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4-H Growing Connections: A Garden-Enhanced Nutrition Education Curriculum
4-H Growing Connections A Garden-Enhanced Nutrition Education Curriculum Author:Michelle Monagas, Dale Steen The primary theme emphasized throughout 4-H Growing Connections is making healthy food choices. The curriculum is divided into five sections: Gardening, Food Safety, Nutrition, Food Security, and Food Preservation. Each section includes objectives, background information for the instructor, planned observations for evaluation, one to three lesso... more »n plans to choose from, and a list of supplies needed.
Specifically designed with the “outdoor classroom” in mind, lesson plans include fun, hands-on activities where students learn by doing. The curriculum is enriched by a variety of group building games and activities, cooking recipes and additional resources on gardening and nutrition education. The curriculum package includes a variety of evaluation tools such as ‘camera ready’ documents for recording observational and statistical data in addition to sample copies of the Fruit and Vegetable pre/post test.
4-H Growing Connections has been successfully used by school age child care education programs, organized 4-H and 4-H Cloverbud groups, special interest/short term programs, day camps, school enrichment programs, summer food service programs, parents, Master Gardeners, and adult volunteers. The written curriculum is designed for youth age 5-12, but can be adapted for older youth.
Growing Connections Overview: Intro, goals, life skills, evaluation and lesson plan format
4-H Growing Connections is a garden-enhanced nutrition education curriculum for youth that includes:
* planning and planting a garden,
* developing nutrition and cooking skills,
* building food security and hunger awareness, and
* enhancing food safety and preservation skills.
4-H Growing Connections is designed for youth age 5-18. The curriculum is designed to be used successfully with a mixed age group of youth. The primary theme emphasized throughout the curriculum is making healthy food choices. The curriculum is divided into five sections: Gardening, Food Safety, Nutrition, Food Security, and Food Preservation.
Each section includes objectives, background information for the instructor, planned observations for evaluation, one to three lesson plans to choose from, and a list of supplies needed. The format for each lesson plan is to begin the lesson with an opening circle, present the main activity for the day, prepare a cooking recipe or share a prepared snack, do a group building activity if time permits, and end with a closing circle. Each lesson plan is 1 1/2 to 2 hours long and is designed according to the experiential learning model of active learning, reflection, and application.
It is recommended that each student participate in a minimum of six hours of program time. One of the primary goals of 4-H Growing Connections is that youth will increase their preference for the taste of fruits and vegetables by developing life skills to grow a garden and prepare and preserve food in a safe way. In order to find out how the students’ knowledge and choices are influenced by the program, the instructor administers a pre/post evaluation tool and planned observations. (See Program Evaluation for more details.) 4-H Growing Connections can be used by school age child care education programs, organized 4-H and 4-H Cloverbud clubs, special interest/short term programs, day and resident camps, school enrichment programs, summer food service programs, parents, Master Gardeners, and adult volunteers.
Overall Goal Youth will understand the connections between personal health and well being, food secure communities, and the environment by developing life skills to grow fruits and vegetables and prepare and preserve food in a safe way. Through this program youth will want to garden, prepare healthful recipes using freshly harvested produce, and share the fruits of their labor with others in their community. Objectives The objectives of 4-H Growing Connections are based on the Social Cognitive Theory which emphasizes key factors that influence health behaviors and behavior change. Each of the following objectives corresponds with one of these factors. The lesson plans address these objectives through activities, reflection, application, and evaluation.
A. Food environment
Youth will increase their awareness of the varieties of locally grown produce by actively participating in:
1. Growing vegetables in a group and/or container garden.
2. Preparing at least one dish with fresh produce.
B. Skills and knowledge
The skills and knowledge are outlined at the beginning each section and correspond to levels of learning as identified by the labels 1 2 or 3. Each skill and knowledge level must be mastered before a student goes on to the next. An instructor can expect each level to be mastered according to the following age groups:
* Level 1 = ages 5-7;
* Level 2 = ages 8-10;
* Level 3 = ages 11 and older.
* The instructor can use the same lesson plan for a mixed age group of youth by emphasizing reflective questions that correspond to the skills and knowledge as they are defined in each section.
C. Health benefits
Youth will recognize that the health benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables:
1. Provides their body with more energy to be physically active.
2. Supports their body to be fit and healthy so they feel good about their body.
D. Valuing nutritious food
Youth will develop an increased preference for the taste of fruits & vegetables by:
1. Growing fresh produce.
2. Using recipes that are child tested and approved
Youth will set and monitor goals to:
* Eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
F. Observational learning
Youth will learn from each other by observation and demonstration as they:
2. Taste fresh produce.
3. Keep hands and surfaces clean when preparing, cooking, or serving food.
4. Role play the experience of hunger and the process of sharing food with others.
Youth will be given recognition for:
* Completing their goal to eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
H. Emotional coping responses
* Increase their level of comfort in trying new fruits and vegetables.
I. Confidence building
1. Youth will plant a group garden and/or container garden to enhance their confidence in their ability to grow food.
2. Youth will practice safety skills and safe food handling skills in the kitchen to enhance their confidence to prepare and preserve fresh food.
Each lesson plan in 4-H Growing Connections provides activities that are based on the experiential learning process. Lessons strive to involve young people in the experiences that require them to interact, analyze, question, reflect, and connect what they have learned to other situations. The activity comes first; the “learning” comes from the “discovery” of new knowledge and skills as a result of the experience. This is the “learning-by-doing” process. Hands-on involvement is the most effective method for learning this material. It helps youth learn personal initiative, hard work, patience and deferred gratification. If youth need assistance completing a task, instructors should guide them—but not do the work for them. Doing the work for them may prevent children from learning by trial and error, practicing skills, and becoming competent and capable. Instructors have a unique opportunity to help youth validate themselves as capable people which builds self-esteem and sense of worth. Throughout the lessons, step-by-step information is provided for the instructor. An answer has been provided for some questions; however most questions do not require an exact answer. In addition to providing an opportunity for feedback, the purpose of the question is to affirm and validate the perceptions of the students.
Experiential Learning Model
Do: This is the actual doing part of the activity where students experience the activity.
Reflect: This section includes questions for students to share and process what they have learned and to write and draw in their journals on important aspects of the subject matter.
* Students SHARE what they did, observed, and how they felt.
* Students PROCESS important aspects of the subject matter content, the experience, and the use of the life skill. These reflection questions correspond to the levels of learning outlined on the first page of each section.
Apply: This section includes more questions to help students generalize and apply what they have learned to new situations.
Students connect what they are learning across subject areas by generalizing and identifying how the skills and knowledge gained are useful in other situations.
* Student APPLY what they have learned by setting and monitoring goals to practice the life skills they are learning and share what they have learned with others.
* Students TAKE IT FURTHER by exploring additional activities at home and in their community.
Life skills are defined as abilities, knowledge, attitudes, and behavior that are learned for success and happiness. Life skills enable people to adapt to and master their life situations. Through development of life skills, youth learn to live comfortably with others, express their own feelings safely, love life, and welcome new experiences. The Targeting Life Skills Model includes four of the key life skills that are emphasized throughout the 4-H Growing Connections curriculum. These life skills include:
* Head - Thinking: Clearly state my thoughts, feelings, and ideas to others.
* Heart - Cooperation: Work well with others and be able to follow instructions.
* Hands - Leadership: Act as a good role model and motivate others to action.
* Health - Choices: Make healthy food choices.« less