Saturday, September 12, 2009

Farm To Table and Beyond...

Yesterday, my kids didn't know what was coming. They knew it was the 'first day of school'... which to them meant just another day, but that the workboxes would be clean and they would have to do math. LOL! Little did they know, I had big things planned... which started with a special breakfast of Blue Corn Flakes.

After I put Logan down for nap, I pulled out my science curriculum. Last year was concentrating on botany and earth sciences. This year, we are doing a curriculum called "Farm to Table... and Beyond". What a fun curriculum this is! It starts with corn products, and then move on to making grape juice (processing), and go on to packaging, and then to waste where we calculate how long it will take for a years worth of our garbage to actually decompose (if any of it will). It should be educational for all of us. I am adding a bunch of experiments in there, so we are covering less than a lesson per week... but I am really excited.

Needless to say, today was corn. First, I grabbed all the corn products I had in the house. Actually, I had to buy some. We don't keep corn syrup or corn oil in the house... and we don't use it at all. So I had to find some organic (non-GMO) corn oil and syrup. It took some more cash, but it was the difference between spending $3 and throwing it away, or spending over twice that and having something I may actually use in my kitchen eventually.

They had a wonderful diagram that I copied for the kids of the parts of a corn kernel (endosperm, germ, and seed coat) and simple definitions of each part. I had the kids direct this model on the white board so they could see how much oil, water, starch, fiber and protein there really was in corn. It was funny, but as I came and sat down again I saw Cyan glancing into the corn oil cup with a very intent look on her face. I could only imagine that she was thinking "How do they get that 4% oil out of each of the corn kernels?"

The next part of the lesson consisted of nothing more than questions. They were asked to pull out their notebooks and pick a corn product. Then they were asked "How do you think that this product was taken out of the corn?" and "What part of the corn do you think this came from?" Cyan told me her answers and I wrote them on the board (this is a 6th grade curriculum after all... I want to make it as easy for her as possible to follow along), and then I had Alex write his answers in complete sentences in his notebook.

This is one of his answers:

It says;

Corn Flour

It is similar to the corn kernel because it is yellow and smells like it.

My product is different because it is a powder.

I think they take out the germ of the corn kernel and and then they grind the rest up and let the liquid dry out to make flour.

That is EXACTLY how they make corn flour! I have to admit to being pretty amazed. I don't know why. He and I have talked about food for years... but still, you just never know what they will retain. When I read the next section (on how to make corn flour, starch, and syrup) he was grinning ear to ear because he knew he had guessed exactly right. It was a great lesson!

And just to add some more science to our day, I had Cyan go check on our Topsy Turvy experiment... three more for the 'growing down'!

Growing up: 9

Growing down: 12

The Topsy Turvy is taking the lead. I still don't know if that is because of the May toddler disaster, or because it just grows more tomatoes... but it has been super interesting!


Sadie said...

Looks like a great lesson! I went to the website and looked around, looks wonderful, lots of good resources.

Bona Fide Mama said...

what a practical real life curriculum!

Beth said...

I love the look of the curriculum. Do you think (since you've actually seen it) that this would be useful as a coordinate with studying the food pyramid for Health? I like the idea of focusing on the different foods like corn and such. You have such a great approach to homeschooling, and I love reading all your ideas. Keep up the great work!

Val in the Rose Garden said...

It is more indepth than I would do for a basic food pyramid. I would pick the Botany on Your Plate for that study, honestly. We did that, and loved it! Of course, I added things like a food diary, and a trip to the store where we calculated how far our food took to get to us... which was super fun! All of those experiments (and the review of the curriculum) can be found under the "Science" tag at the bottom of this post. Here is a link to the one where we took school to the grocery store. :)

Thanks for stopping by Beth! I'm going to go check out your blog. :)