Why a ‘Lord of the Rings’ theme for the farm?

"When children use their imagination in play and learning they are developing crucial psychological and emotional capacities that help them understand the world in which they live and their relation to it; they are learning to solve problems, create new possibilities, even change the world."

Before our famous Hobbit door entrance to the school farm was created, or the popular Dragon bench holding the Box of Learning in its tail was carved, or the Elven pollinator garden maze was built, we had the good fortune to witnessed firsthand the importance of engaging the imaginations of the K-5 level students for enhanced learning. It was during our initial school tours during the Earth Day (week for us). With full Covid protocols in place, we had 20 groups of elementary grade students scheduled to visit the school farm for an hour at a time during the week. Our first two tours we shared about all the 'what's' of the available at the school farm. How many fruit trees, types of veggies we grow, composting, workshops, etc. However, what we failed to do is engage the 'why' of the school farm, more importantly, why 'they' are so important to it. Although happy to be outside, it almost felt as if they were just attending another class and we had almost zero engagement.

During the lunch break, we changed it up by adding a superhero theme to the tours. "Who's your favorite superhero and why?" "Do you want to be a superhero?" They listed their favorites and how superheroes "save the world" and how cool it would be to be one too. We countered with "You can be a super hero and save the world too!" How planting a seed and growing plants and trees they can create and clean the air people breathe, cool the earth, prevent water shortages... essentially they can help save the world! From that moment on, every tour of the farm was fun, engaging, and exciting for these newly commissioned superheroes.

However, what we needed was a superhero theme that related to farming, and trees, and flowers and animals. We reached back into Tolkien's world to discover that Hobbits are the worlds best farmers, Elves were known for their love of trees and flowers, and Dwarves for their sturdy animals. We had found the imaginative theme we were looking for and the fun began.

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