What it is:Starting with Soil is a free app from the Whole Kids Foundation that teaches the importance of healthy soil and lets kids discover the harmonious roles that plants, animals, and people play in keeping it healthy. This high-quality, interactive app lets kids explore the life in soil through lots of interactive experiences. They can use a compost wheel to learn about which things can be composted; learn about pollinators and their role in the food we eat; explore fungi, bacteria, protozoa, algae, and nemotodes with a built-in microscope; and learn how long it takes to make an inch of healthy soil with an interactive timeline. Kids can also plant digital seeds, make it rain, and build their own digital compost pile.
How to integrate the Starting with Soil App in your classroom:The Starting with Soil app is a fantastic interactive experience that will help your students learn about how nature creates organic soil, the role that animals and cover crops play in organic farming, how different plants can thrive together, the importance of pollinators, and how compost is made and its part in growing healthy food. This free app can be used as a provocation for an inquiry unit about soil, in your science classroom, or during discussions about ecosystems or nutrition.
My favorite part of this app is the way it let’s kids explore soil. Rather than telling them why healthy soil is important, it reveals its importance through discovery, exploration, and play.
Follow-up learning by giving students the opportunity to put that new understanding to work. Have students design pollinator hotels for your school yard or garden, start a composting bin, or start a school garden. Check out the Whole Kids Foundation site for fantastic resources, ideas, and grant opportunities.
Tips: Starting with Soil is available on the App Store and Google Play.
What it is: There are some things that I think should be essential to every school experience. Some place where kids can sink their hands down into the earth and have a part in growing something is one of those essentials. Edible Schoolyard is an incredible site with a goal to bring children into a positive relationship with food by connecting it with nature and culture. The great part: good health is the outcome. The Edible Schoolyard Project shares a food curriculum for schools around the world to put into practice. I share their dream of making an “edible education” as part of the core of every school in the country. I love that Edible Schoolyard wants to provide every student with a free nutritious lunch and interactive experiences in the classroom, kitchen and garden…transforming the health and values of every child.
Maps the grassroots efforts of edible education programs around the United States.
Gathers and shares lessons and best practices of school gardens, kitchens, and lunch programs.
Documents 15 years of Edible Schoolyards.
Trains educators at the Edible Schoolyard Academy.
How to integrate Edible Schoolyard Project into the classroom: The Edible Schoolyard Project has some excellent lessons, tips, guidance, and encouragement for starting an Edible Schoolyard Project at your own school. The great thing about the resource collection on Edible Schoolyard Project is that it has been created by educators. The lesson plans aren’t just focused on food, they are all tied in to a variety of disciplines…you know, like it happens in real life.
There is something so human and important about growing food. It is something that we have separated ourselves from and as a result, we are happy to stuff ourselves with a combination of chemicals and additives. I have taught students who truly didn’t know that potatoes grew. Seriously.
At Anastasis, we are working to start our own Edible Schoolyard Project. Our challenge: we lease space from a church. There is no little piece of land that we can call our own. We don’t let anything stop us at Anastasis, we just have to be more creative. In the past few weeks our students have been composting in 56 2-liter bottles. It can be stinky…but the kids are learning so much about decomposition! My next plan for our own little edible school yard project:
Truck Farm. I learned about Truck Farms from a way cool little restaurant here in Colorado called Beatrice and Woodsley. They take advantage of Truck Farms for some of their produce. Brilliant idea. A truck farm is an old pick up truck whose bed has been retrofitted as a container garden. The result: fresh produce that is mobile. SO great for a school that puts everything on wheels! While it isn’t exactly like getting your hands into a plot of land, students will be able to have their own little kitchen garden that they can grow.
****As a side note, if anyone has an old pickup they would like to donate to Anastasis or help funding this project, please let me know!
Tips: Explore the Movement is a section on the Edible Schoolyard Project where those in the US can find others in their state to network with.
Please leave a comment and share how you are using Edible Schoolyard Project in your classroom!