25 January 2009

Use storytelling to teach kids about how food and clothing (and more) are produced

Sara's inventive (and entertaining) teaching method:

I want my daughter to understand is where things (food, fabric, etc.) comes from. To this end, I invented the "Little Farmer J--" stories. Little Farmer J does *everything* -- grows a garden, plants and harvests wheat, grinds it, and makes bread, grows cotton and does all the steps (picking, carding, spinning, dying, weaving, sewing) to turn it into a shirt, etc. It's a very popular set of stories, and we can always improvise more!

Related:
"Storytelling" the house clean
Record yourself telling stories to calm bedtime fears

More: Best of Parent Hacks: Gardening with kids

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The Richard Scarry book "What Do People Do All Day" can also work well for this, or as a jumping off point to explore any one aspect more thoroughly.

http://www.amazon.com/Richard-Scarrys-What-People-All/dp/0394818237

Kids are really into figuring out how things work too - my son LOVES "this old house" and asks a lot of questions about plumbing and electricity at home (he's 3.5)

I wonder how much of the "wheat is grown by Little Farmer J" we should be telling our kids. I've read the same things- we love all Richard Scarry around here and my kids know the farmer of our CSA - so yes, some of our food does come from "Little Farmer J". But primarily, Conglomerate Brown grows the wheat and shuts down all the private family farms and I also want them to understand how that has happened. Where is Richard Scarry when I want to explain that?

Try also Agatha's Feather Bed by Carmen Agra Deedy. The story of how feathers got into Agatha's bed and lots of other jumping off places for where other things come from. Super-cute story too!

Along the same line, whenever I read a story to my sons, I always told them the title and who the author and illustrator were. I wanted them to know that it took talent and hard work to produce books.

Aliki has a good book called How A Book Is Made.

Grace is a good opportunity for this sort of thing to. You can do a family brainstorm re: all the people you can give thanks to for making your meal possible. We always forget the people who box and haul things!

A backyard garden and trips to farms are great lessons.

y'all, Little House on the Prairie rules for this. Those folks made or grew pretty much everything, and the stories are told from a little girl's perspective.

Excellent advice in the post and suggestions in the comments. Can't wait to pass them along.

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