We’re only a few weeks into summer break, but I know many kids are already saying, “I’m bored. There’s nothing to do.”
Whether you’re trying to keep your own kids busy or want to teach a group of kids about agriculture, we have many ideas for you! Below are some great ways to help kids explore the world of agriculture, have fun, and learn about science or history too! Some will work well for one or two kids to do at home, while others can easily be done with larger groups at a county fair, summer camp, etc.
- Create a Cover Crop Monster with grass seed, soil, stockings or old tights, a few art supplies. The grass grows into a funky hairdo your kiddos will love!
- Plant a seed necklace. Add a corn kernel and a soybean seed to a jewelry-size zip top bag filled with moisture beads or a moistened cotton ball. Punch a hole in the top, add a piece of yarn, and viola… you have a living necklace featuring Iowa’s two main crops.
- Get gardening. Remember, you don’t need to a big garden to get started. Plunk a seedling or two into an existing flower bed, or create a container garden with something you already have around such as an old flower pot, bucket, barrel or even a shoe. Just make sure it has holes in the bottom, to allow excels water to drain.
- Plant soybeans in plaster of Paris. Say, what??? Just do it. I promise you won’t be disappointed!
Read & Write
- Read the digital version or request your own copy of My Family’s Beef Farm or My Family’s Corn Farm. For farm kids, have them to write and illustrate a simple story about their farm. This would be a great family project!
- Explore the list of books in our Lending Library with your children and pick out a few of their favorites to read together. See if your local library has these titles, or check them out through us for two weeks. A few of my favs for younger children are Who Grew My Soup, and So you want to Grow a Taco, and All in Just one Cookie. Great picks for older kids include The Kid Who Changed the World, Farmer George Plants a Nation. A Hog Ate my Homework, and The Beef Princess of Practical County.
- Click Clack Moo, Cows that Type is one of my kids’ favorite books. In this super silly book, the cows write letters to the farmer demanding extra amenities in the barn or they will go on strike. After reading this book and “My Family’s Beef Farm,” ask kids to write a letter to Cecelia’s family from the perspective of one of the calves. Their letters can be silly or more serious and consider the needs of the calves and what Cecilia’s family provides for them. Instead of a “demand” letter, maybe they’ll choose to write a “thank you” letter. To make this extra fun, ask around to see if you can find an old typewriter so the kids can type the letter just like the cows in Click Clack Moo. The digital version can be found at PBS and it’s in our Lending Library too.
- Make your own butter. All you needs is a small container and heavy cream.
- Make ice cream in a bag. This is a great way for the kids to cool down on a hot day! Make it educational reading books about ice cream and dairy and let them do the measuring.
- Have kids mix up some Pork Feed Ration trail mix. With just a few ingredients, they’ll create a tasty snack learn what pigs eat.
- Turn stack-time into learning time while making these easy cracker pizzas after reading So you Want to Grow a Pizza or Extra Cheese Please?
- Farmers 2050 is perfect for the middle and high school videogame-loving kids. This online and app-based game allows players to grow crops, raise livestock, and support their local community, and engage with local and global partners as they level up.
- My American Farm’s interactive games are perfect for elementary-age kids. Players learn where food comes from and how those products get from the farm to their dinner plate.
- Paint with Soil! Yes, dirt can be beautiful. The color of soil in Iowa varies quite a bit, but for a more colorful work of art ask out of state friends and relatives to send you soil too!
- Make corn mosaics. Explore the difference between Indian corn, popcorn, and field corn while creating a beautiful work of art. Gather seeds of each type, craft glue, and cardboard squares and let your little artist create a masterpiece worthy of display in the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD.
- Forget rubber stamps, an ear of corn is all you need to create a beautiful work of art with ink pads or washable tempera paint. Rolling the whole ear in paint will create a beautiful pattern, but also try printing with the husks, cob, or a cross section of an ear. Other veggies like broccoli, potatoes, carrots, and even lettuce leaves make great prints too!
- Visit a farm. Ask a relative, neighbor, or friend if your family can come visit their farm – or even better put the kiddos to work for a few hours help. In person is best, but don’t forget about virtual visits too! Check out our FarmChat® tips to learn how.
- Have fun at a local farmer’s market. Encourage kids to help you pick out vegetables or ask the farmers questions. This farmer’s market scavenger hunt will make the visit extra fun too!
- Plan a family road trip to visit one of the many agricultural historical sites in Iowa. Check out Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area‘s eight Ag Adventure loop guides to make your planning easy! Even better, let the kids explore the website and help decide where to go!