I like to fiddle.  It drives my wife and kids nuts.   I have to have something in my hands.  If I have a pen, I twirl it or click it. It is just that way.  I like to tinker.

As a teacher–I tried to understand when I had students express themselves in the same way.   It wasn’t easy all of the time. Sometimes it drove me nuts!

At Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom we know and understand that there are different types of learners.  Not all students learn best with paper and pencil or by lecture.  Theorists believe that all learners have various learning styles.   Many break these down by VAK–Visual, Audial and Kinesthetic

People that learn by doing, or with their hands are kinesthetic learners. Roughly 1/3 of the population learns best by doing.  Think our schools might have trouble reaching kids that don’t do well learning visually or via hearing?   The Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory estimates that most High School dropouts are primarily kinesthetic learners and  80% of prison inmates are kinesthetic learners.  Do you think there could be a better reason to continue to advocate for what used to be considered ‘vocational’ courses at an upper level?  Even at the elementary level, we have to make sure students are engaged!

At Ag in the Classroom we have take our familiar ‘Make and Take Items’ and transitioned them into what we call “Interest Approaches”.   At the same time that  we see statistics like those mentioned above, schools are interested in showing how to increase learning, and measuring learning under Federal, State and local guidelines, it seems that the place for ‘crafts’ in education have lost their luster.  So, we’ve worked out ways to incorporate this learning to make sure that the craft has a purpose and it is tied back to a lesson.  

Some of our favorites include our chains and charms.   While sequencing items in a chain form and placing them in a paper plate (see apple chain) might not seem like rocket science, that chain can be expanded far beyond what meets the eye.   Our “Tassel to Table” chain walks students and adults through the process of how corn goes from the field through transportation and processing to be used in a final product by consumers.  When you break it down many are amazed at how often their food travels from place to place. 

Another great activity is showing how biodegradable corn starch packing peanuts differ from standard Styrofoam peanuts.  We encourage students to build a structure by moistening the packing peanuts and sticking them together and then placing the finished structure in a bucket of water and watching them dissolve.

Our interest approaches are designed to reach learners of all ages in multiple levels!   Why don t you take a minute and take a peek at how you might be able to use your kinesthetic learning style in agriculture!!

Kevin Daugherty
Education Director
Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom