Farm Crates program teaches Scottville Elementary students about agriculture. 

November 30, 2020

Farm Crates program teaches Scottville Elementary students about agriculture. 

Spartan News is a presentation of Mason County Central Schools in partnership with Mason County Press. 

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

SCOTTVILLE — In an effort to support teachers and students as they navigate education during a pandemic, Michigan Farm Bureau and Michigan Agriculture in the Classroom have been offering an agricultural educational program called Farm Crate. The subscription program is a hands-on, educational program that teaches about farming. 

Thanks to a sponsorship from Mason County Farm Bureau and the school, the program was offered this fall at Mason County Central’s Scottville Elementary, which teaches grades kindergarten through second. 

“This program brings back the normalcy and fun of field trips in the classroom, whether the students are meeting in person or online,” said Mason County Farm Bureau President Seth Earl. 

Similar to other subscription boxes like Stitch Fix or HelloFresh, Farm Crates are delivered to elementary classrooms across the state at the start of each month. Each crate includes a food or agriculture book, Agriculture in the Classroom lesson resources, a hands-on, grade-appropriate lesson and support materials, an online extension activity and a teacher gift.

The most recent lesson plan was titled “November Turkey Takeover.” 

With the Thanksgiving holiday it was a great opportunity for my class to get some information on poultry with our Ag Mag (the magazine that comes with the crates),” said second grade teacher Jim Allen. “We have been working with informational text, therefore the information provided was a great reinforcement for the kids. Several of our kids were able to link and connect the information with their own lives,  in that they have turkeys and chickens at their homes. The activities and recipes were also a great tool for the kids to utilize. We made copies of the recipes to send home.”

The program has worked well for distant learning students utilizing MCC’s Spartan Connect service. 

Spartan Connect first grade teacher Scott Anderson said the program has been a great way to enhance class discussion during its morning meetings. 

“This month, my students were able to listen to me read the book provided, and then on their own using, Jamboard, they added a sticky note to tell me the most interesting fact they learned about turkeys. The next day we were able to look at their ideas and they had the opportunity to verbally share what they learned with the rest of the class. In a time where we are not able to take real field trips, the provided Nearpod lesson serves as a great and engaging virtual field trip opportunity for my Spartan Connect students.”

Spartan Connect kindergarten teacher Sue Anderson said she also utilized the program for the distant learning students. 

“ I got positive comments from the parents about them. I tape myself reading the book to them, and assign the Nearpod videos, which were a huge success.  I got a lot of positive feedback on them. We combined it with the book ‘Pumpkin Jack’, which talks about the life cycle of pumpkins.  The two fit together, and we used it for reading and science.  Had I had the students face-to-face, I would have done pumpkin math as well. We would have measured and counted the seeds in our pumpkins.

“The November crate was also paired with a book, this time a silly fiction story.  We read the turkeys book included in the crate, ‘A Turkey for Thanksgiving’, and another nonfiction book that was more focused on turkeys in the wild.”

Michigan Farm Bureau and Michigan Agriculture in the Classroom normally offers a program called the Farm Science Lab, a mobile classroom that travels to various schools across the state. This fall, MCC and Mason County Eastern schools were scheduled to have a visit from the lab, but the pandemic caused the lab to cease operations for the school year. Mason County Farm Bureau, along with area farmers and the schools, had committed funds to bring the lab. Arrangements are currently being made for the lab to visit next school year. 

“Mason County Farm Bureau is dedicated to promoting the importance of agriculture in our society to all ages,” Earl said. “The Farm Science Lab is a popular program with a long waiting list. We were excited to have it scheduled to visit our area and hope that it will happen in the near future. In the meantime, bringing the Farm Crates to MCC has been a great way to introduce elementary children to the important roles science and math play in farming.”

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