Educare Chicago children learn how to grow and sell food

A preschool class at Educare Chicago had a question: How are plants grown? This curiosity, which started with the children’s fascination with nature and collecting items from outside, soon turned into whole class study on how food is grown and sold.

Their teachers began by asking them a number of open-ended questions to see what they knew about nature. Then they had the children come up with their own list of questions and practice thinking about the questions by predicting what the answers would be.

“For example, one of the kids wondered why worms come out when it rains. One of the kids thought it was because they wanted to get out of the dark and take a shower,” said Educare Chicago teacher Annaliese Newmeyer. “Obviously not the right answer, but it is a logical explanation that required himto think about his prior experience and knowledge about worms and water, and apply it to a new situation. This is the type of thinking that we need to be teaching kids how to do in order for them to be successful throughout their school careers.”

Each child then experimented with how vegetables grow by planting green beans in plastic bags, watering them every day and taking them home to water over the weekend. The class went on to grow other vegetable plants, including spinach, peas, carrots and red peppers, and even made a worm compost bin using plastic containers, dirt and newspapers to discover more about worms, soil and what plants need to grow.

Taking the study a step further, the children turned the class’s dramatic play area into a store to find out how food is sold. They practiced the jobs of customer and cashier and traveled to a local Walgreens tosee how a store operates. The children explored the store and items for sale, asking managers about their jobs and interviewing customers about what they buy at the store and why. Throughout the study, the children learned and practiced many academic and social skills, including science skills by asking questions and conducting experiments, math skills by figuring out how much items cost, and social skills by creating rules for store conduct and learning how to interact with customers.

Finally, it was the children’s turn to open a store at their school – they sold 60 of the plants they grew and raised money for a class popsicle party. Check out photos below from each step in the children’s experience.