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Farms and living things!

There is so much going on in my classroom right now! First of all, we are observing the growth of Painted Lady caterpillars. They just made their "J"s this afternoon and we are expecting to see them as a chrysalis when we return to school in the morning!

Second, we observed a crack in our chicken eggs this afternoon! They have been in our incubator since April 18. We are hoping for more cracks and hatching tomorrow! Unfortunately, we will be on our field trip to the Woods tomorrow and won't be around to see them hatch. :( Oh well, as they say, you can't stop Mother Nature! I'm sure that my kiddos will be thrilled to see a bunch of little balls of fluff in the incubator when we return in the afternoon!

Our present theme is "Farm." Since I am the wife of a farmer, I have pretty strong opinions about how this unit should be taught! First of all, most modern day farmers do NOT wear straw hats and wear overalls! My husband goes to work each morning in jeans and a button shirt and the only hat he wears is a ball cap when the sun is really strong! He also is a college graduate so he is a very smart man as well! Anyway.............  I then start to discuss the concept of where our food comes from. When I asked this question last week "Who knows where our food comes from?", my kiddos said "The grocery store!" This, of course, IS true, but then I asked "Where did the grocery store get their food?" My kiddos really did not know and when I said "the farm", one of my little guys said "Not all our food, though." I asked him, "Hmmm, where else do you think it comes from?" He said, "The food in the boxes doesn't come from the farm." Okay........ we have some work to do here, I am thinking!! :)
So............ last week we discussed the fact that not all farms have animals that live on them - some farms just grow crops.  Here in central Illinois, we grow corn and soybeans and a few farms grow wheat. So we talked about the plants, how they grow, and what products are produced from the plants after they are processed.  We have been using some big vocabulary words in this unit! We also discussed the differences between a tractor and a combine and their uses. This week we are discussing some of the animals that live on a farm and the products that they produce. I do not, however, discuss the use of animals for meat. Rather we discuss how we get milk products from dairy cattle, eggs from chickens, and wool from sheep.

Last year, one of my wonderful co-teachers, Lisa, created a dairy cow from a saw horse. Here is a picture of it! She covered the legs with felt and made a felt head. She covered the saw horse with a plastic table cloth and glued on felt spots. To create the udder, she used latex gloves and inserted a pin into one of the fingers to make a small hole. Then she filled the gloves with water and attached to the bottom of the saw horse. We put a bucket under the udder and then asked our students to milk the cow! This picture shows one of my students milking our cow, Betsy! :) Fun! We haven't decided if we will be doing this project this year - it IS rather ambitious and we aren't sure if we are up for it this late in the school year!

I'll post more pictures tomorrow!


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