"Healthy Food from Healthy Soils: A Hands-On Resource for Educators"


Book: Healthy Foods from Healthy Soils: A Hands-On Resource for Educators

Authors: Elizabeth Patten and Kathy Lyons

Illustrator: Helen Stevens

Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers, revised edition published in 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0-88448-242-0

ISBN-10: 0-88448-242-1

Related website: www.tilburyhouse.com (publisher)

Language level: 1 (nothing objectionable)

Reading level: For educators of grades K-6

Rating: 4 stars (GOOD)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

For more information e-mail homeschoolbookreview@gmail.com

Patten, Elizabeth, and Lyons, Kathy. Healthy Foods from Healthy Soils: A Hands-On Resource for Educators (published in 2003 and revised edition in 2007 by Tilbury House Publishers, 2 Mechanic St., Gardiner, ME 04345). Where does our food come from? I know, I know! The grocery store. As our society has become more urban and less rural, fewer and fewer children understand what is involved in growing the food that we eat. Healthy Foods from Healthy Soils is intended to help solve this problem. It weaves down-to-earth activities from a variety of disciplines to illustrate where food comes from, how our bodies use food, and what happens to food waste. The 49 individual lessons are divided into four main sections: “Where Does Food Come From?”, “Choosing Food for Body and Soul,” “Putting ‘Garbage’ to Work,” and “Let’s Grow Our Own.”

The lessons move across traditional disciplines with activities which give children a chance to sing, act, make models, grow food, create collages, taste new food, keep journals, chart food waste, and learn to love worms. For traditional school educators, each lesson is keyed to the “Benchmarks for Science Literacy,” providing simple goals; key points written in “kid” language; ample background information for the activity; clear “how to” instructions; classroom conversations; suggestions for further discussion; lesson links; children’s literature links; and relevant annotated resources. Many activities include action steps and tips to make teacher planning easier. Also a number of lessons ask children to reflect on their own choices thus encouraging critical thinking.

One special feature of the book is a teaching puppet named Annelida the earthworm, and there is detailed information on how to create and use a recycled sock or stocking puppet. A series of appendices including a glossary, an extensive bibliography for further resources, and an index complete the book and add to its usefulness. Many homeschooling families are involved in homesteading, organic gardening, and natural foods, and these lessons would be a great addition to their curriculum. While it is intended primarily for the classroom, it could be easily used in the homeschool. In fact, the authors say, “This guide is adaptable and can be used in many different settings besides the classroom. Parents, environmental educators, homeschoolers, volunteer coordinators, clubs, and service groups will also find a wealth of interesting activities and useful information in this guide.”

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