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A Child's Guide to Riverhill Farm

School: Grass Valley Charter School

City/State: Grass Valley, CA

Grade(s): 3, 4

Format(s): Field guide: Natural science

Subject(s): English Language Arts, Science and Technology

Project Overview

Students in a 3/4 multi-grade classroom created A Child’s Guide to Riverhill Farm at Grass Valley Charter School. The product is the culminating project for a yearlong expedition about food and water titled Dinosaur Spit and You Are What You Eat. This final product is based on experiences with the local watershed and local community-supported agriculture.

After an initial visit to a local CSA, Riverhill Farm, students learned how a farm can be engineered to be its own watershed. The class also discovered that the farmers were very interested in educating children about their farm, but were short on both time and resources with which to teach children. After a brainstorming session with the farmers, the students proposed creating a guild for children to use when they visit the farm.

Throughout the project the students visited the farm five times to decide on areas of interest, do research, ask questions of the farmers, study the watershed, do service for the farm and to do drawings and journaling. The final visit was a celebration of the work and a presentation of A Child’s Guide to Riverhill Farm to the farmers.

In addition to meeting with and questioning the farmers and their interns as experts, students studied a broad spectrum of exemplars in order to choose the format and layout style for their guidebook. To appeal to young learners, the class chose the interactive format of a coloring book. They brainstormed a list of possible topics of interest to their child audience, and then did individual research reports. To create their entry for the guidebook each student learned to research, edit, revise, type and format their writing, creating criteria and rubrics to evaluate the work as it evolved.

Several aspects of service entered into the project as the year progressed: the students spent time weeding, harvesting, seed collecting and seed planting on the farm in order to pay the farmers back for their time. Students also took turns being students ambassadors for community-supported agriculture by presenting the booklet to the public at a grower’s market and collecting donations. All donations collected at the market were used to purchase produce from the farm for low-income single mothers. 

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Creating a guidebook for an authentic audience, to fill an authentic need is motivating for students to work hard and produce quality work
  • Presenting research in a speech bubble, with a self-portrait, allows for strong personal voice and character to come across
  • A good example of young students engaged in fieldwork with local experts
  • A compelling example of service learning – a vital contribution that also entailed serious learning

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can write an informative/explanatory text.
  • I can write informative/explanatory texts that convey ideas and information clearly.
  • I can sort evidence into provided categories.
  • I can use grammar conventions to send a clear message to a reader or listener.
  • I can use conventions to send a clear message to my reader.
  • I can use grammar conventions to send a clear message to a reader or listener.
  • I can use conventions to send a clear message to my reader.
  • I can compare how people use language when they write versus when they talk.
  • I can accurately use 3rd grade academic vocabulary to express my ideas.
  • I use formal English when appropriate.
  • I can accurately use 4th grade academic vocabulary to express my ideas.
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