Every year, the third grade ventures to Pickens County for their annual Farm Day field trip at McCool Farm. At the beginning of the year, students are paired with a student from Pickens Academy in Carrollton, Alabama, and this student becomes their pen pal. Mrs. Stayer uses this activity to teach students letter writing skills, so each month third grade students write a letter to their Pickens Academy pen pal. The students begin to build a relationship through letter-writing and sharing about their lives, what they’re learning in school, their favorite activities, and personal interests. Farm Day marks the first of three visits Advent third graders will have with their Pickens Academy pen pals.

Why Farm Day? Students at Advent have the privilege of attending school in an urban setting where so many resources are readily at their fingertips. Most students at Advent have grown up in an urban or suburban area and have not been exposed to rural living. As part of the third grade curriculum, reading, social studies, and writing is used to build background knowledge of self-sufficiency and rural living. In social studies, students learn about the history of the southeast region, and how farming and agriculture was the primary source of income. Students compare their present lives to the children who grew up in the colonial times. Similarly, the third grade’s reading curriculum focuses on self-sufficient living in which all fiction stories and nonfiction texts correlate. Later, students read fiction and nonfiction texts about urban living in which they can more closely relate.

When students experience Farm Day, there is, of course, much excitement in meeting their pen pals for the first time, but there is also anticipation in experiencing many of the things they have been learning about in reading and social studies. This year, students had the opportunity to witness a sheep dog heard sheep, ride a horse, interact with different farm animals like pigs and chicks, and learn about bee keeping, water pollution, forest fire prevention, and natural, healthy food choices.

Anna White