The featured activity this week goes beyond connecting an assignment to everyday life. This “activity” is actually a one-day event celebrating food plants, community and international cuisine.
The event I am referring to is called a “Plant Feastival”. The Feastival event was created by teachers Lynn Gilbert and Pam Mannon. They use the event as a way to end their classroom unit on plants. It’s true value, however, is as a community outreach vehicle and an interdisciplinary learning tool.
The Feastival designed by Gilbert and Mannon is an 11-day project culminating in an event similar to one of those “Taste Of…” events where visitors sample different cuisines in a festival setting. The difference is students prepare the food and serve up not only tasty samples during the Feastival, but also background information about their respective food plant, including its origins, how it grows, and how it is prepared.
During the research phase students are assigned to teams and each team researches their food plant’s history, origin and current distribution. They also look for a recipe for their food plant, work on conversion sheets to increase the yield of their recipe, write up their findings, prepare a poster presentation and work on their public speaking skills. The research tasks Gilbert and Mannon lead students through address standards in science, math, social studies and language arts. They also introduce students to topics related to economic botany, the culinary arts, cartography, botanical illustration and graphic design.
On the day of the Plant Feastival, students set up their poster presentations in the school cafeteria. Instead of sharing their research and culinary creations with other middle school students, Feastival participants share their research with 5th graders who will soon transfer to the middle school. You see, the Feastival is not only a class project, but a vehicle introducing incoming students to their new school. Fifth graders and their families are invited back later that same day to attend the evening session of the Feastival where, once again, 7th grade researchers become teachers and introduce their food plant, its history and its uses to parents as well as students.
The Plant Feastival by Lynn Gilbert and Pam Mannon can be purchased online for 99¢. Educators will find these helpful teaching tools in the article:
- An 11-day planning guide.
- Photographs of Plant Feastival events hosted by Gilbert and Mannon.
- A list of questions teachers can use to guide students in their research of their food plant.
Gilbert, Lynn and Pam Mannon. 2010. The Plant Feastival.
Science Scope. 33(8): 51-57.