I have been a primary school teacher for more than 12 years, with the majority of my career being in the one school. I have always been a keen cook myself and take an interest in where food comes from and how it is grown. In my current post I have also been the technologies co-ordinator – part of that role is being responsible for increasing the education of food technologies throughout the school. Throughout the years I have always found that some children’s knowledge of where their food comes from is lacking. For example (taken from a lesson I conducted about healthy eating):
Me: Where do carrots come from?
Pupil: From a tin, Miss
Pupil: My mum gets them from the supermarket
Me: Who likes potatoes?
Pupil: Not me, Miss
Me: Do you like chips?
Pupil: Yes, of course
Me: They are made from potatoes
Pupil: Really, I thought the supermarket made them
Some children are unaware that fruit and vegetables are grown on farms and think that they just appear on the supermarket shelves – and they have no other experience or knowledge to contradict that belief. These children are unlikely to go and visit a farm or farmers’ market, unless it is on a school trip, so will continue to have this belief.
Due to there being less money for trips in school, and also parents can’t afford to subsidise the trips, classes are less likely to be able to go and visit farms etc.
However Tesco have launched their Eat Happy Project, and part of the resource is Farm to Fork Online Field Trips. These field trips are free and a great way for pupils to see how different foods are produced and supplied without leaving the classroom, while still giving them the real-life context of a visit and interacting with the people involved in the process.
The resources and activities before the event allow the children to gain some prior knowledge and background about the food they are learning about, changing any misconceptions about where the food comes from, and as they are already prepared, it isn’t any extra work for the teacher. They are fun activities that build up the children’s enthusiasm for the certain foods. I also created a homework task, where the children researched about the food, so they were also learning facts independently.
The Online Field Trips themselves are interactive, using different methods of technology to keep the children interested and also engaging the children by allowing them to speak to the food producer. They also get to see other schoolchildren from different parts of the country.
The children get to pass round the food being discussed, as Tesco send a delivery to the school, they get to grow their own or make their own and then they get to take the food home, so they can share the experience with their parents and create a recipe.
My class took part in an Online Field Trip to a pasta factory in Naples, Italy. The children loved learning about Italy in the quiz prior to the event and then enjoyed seeing Guiseppe and Sam discussing the production of the different pastas – they were amazed at how many there were! This Online Field Trip was something that the children would never have experienced otherwise, as Scotland isn’t renowned for its pasta-making. The children took pasta and pesto home and we got to make our own fresh pasta as a class, as Tesco had provided us with all the ingredients. One of my pupils even made it with his mum at home from scratch! The children loved the experience of making it, just like Guiseppe!
Prior to the Online Field Trip, we looked at the preparation activities; these fully engaged the children and built on their minimal prior knowledge, as they knew what Giuseppe was talking about when he discussed the different types of pasta.
The pupils loved interacting with Sam the presenter and Giuseppe, seeing the other schools and learning about pasta in such a fun and interactive way. We also took part in an Online Field Trip about mushrooms. The class took the mushrooms home and cooked recipes with them, some even brought back the mushroom dish for the class to taste. We also got sent ‘Grow our own mushroom’ kits.
I’d recommend this great project to any class who wish to learn more about healthy food and where it comes from. It’s free for schools and will ensure the children experience an engaging lesson whilst making great use of technology in the classroom.
Take a look behind the scenes at the Perfect Pasta Online Field Trip
The Eat Happy Project is:
- a cross-curricular resource that fits into the experiences and outcomes of the curriculum and allows for children to gain a greater and more accurate knowledge of where food comes from and how it goes from farm to fork
- fully inclusive for all pupils, whatever their learning abilities are, and can be adapted to different year groups and differentiated where needed
- completely free, so doesn’t cost the pupils, schools or parents anything
- suitable for all learning styles
- a resource that encourages pupils’ interest in food, the health benefits and nutritional values that certain foods have, in a real-life context.
- a resource that allows children to visit places they wouldn’t normally be able to visit, albeit virtually.
- an easy-to-use resource for teachers that doesn’t involve time-consuming preparation time.
There are lots more Online Field Trips coming up in the autumn term:
Honey – 11 September 1.30pm
Sweetcorn – 18 September 1.30pm
Rice – 25 September (time TBC)
Broccoli – 2 October 1.30pm
Pumpkin & squash – 9 October 1.30pm
Baked beans – 6 November 1.30pm
Bread – 13 November 1.30pm
Potatoes – 20 November 1.30pm
Tea – 27 November (time TBC)
Clementines – 4 December 1.30pm
Cheryl Miller, P4/5 Class Teacher at Niddrie Mill Primary School, Edinburgh