Almond Board Develops Classroom Curriculum

California school students could add a lesson on almonds to their traditional reading, writing and arithmetic.

The Almond Board of California (ABC) developed a lesson plan that touches on agriculture, art, science and more, while teaching children about agriculture, specifically almonds. The lesson unit covers topics that include: Fact or Opinion, Science and Poetry with Almonds, Fun with Almond Math, Almond History and Cultural Significance, and Nutritious Almonds. The curriculum aligns with the state’s education standards, as well as the country’s Common Core standards for math, science and English.

“California is the No. 1 agricultural-producing state, with 80% of the world’s almonds grown here,” says Rebecca Bailey, program coordinator for Industry Relations at the ABC. “Almonds are grown throughout the Central Valley in California, so it’s important to provide educators with the tools they need to teach students about almonds in a fun way.”

ABC has partnered the past six years with the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom to offer schools a video called “An Almond Story” (http://bit.ly/AnAlmondStory) and an accompanying activity book. The lesson plans, for third-graders through fifth-graders, are the next step in the groups’ offerings.

One goal of the lesson plans is to teach children how to be aware of what is being grown around them, and to instill a sense of responsibility for the land. Almonds are one of more than 400 agricultural crops grown in California.

“The kids learn about almonds, but the plans also build in options for interactive activities,” says DeAnn Tenhunfeld, curriculum coordinator for Ag in the Classroom. “The lesson plans allow teachers to choose from having their students make recipe books, poetry books, travel brochures or even coordinate a farmer visit.”

Matt Visser, a third-generation almond grower from Ripon, CA, took the “Almond Story” video to Ripon Christian Schools, where his children were students, a few years ago to show during Ag Day. He talked to nearly half a dozen classes that day because he says it’s important for children to know about the value of agriculture around them.

“It’s the No. 1-valued crop in the state of California, and it’s important to let the kids know where our food comes from, especially since Ripon is one of the oldest growing regions in the state for almonds,” Visser says. “Some kids are not farm kids, and they need to hear the things we’re doing.”

Visser says the video was educational and entertaining, and he enjoyed sharing bags of almonds with the students and showing them a branch from an almond tree he brought from his orchard.

He encourages other growers to take advantage of agricultural educational materials and get them in front of children when possible.

“The world does offer so many things to suck our kids in. It’s so easy to sit on the couch and let them watch television or play with an iPad,” Visser says. “It’s just important to teach them where food comes from. It doesn’t come from the grocery store. It comes from hard-working farmers working the land.”

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