Thursday, October 11, 2012

Crop Study: Corn

Autumn harvest time...the perfect rows of green corn stalks, the smell of picked peanuts, and the fields full of puffy white cotton (the closest thing we ever see to snow).  In honor of our southern farming culture, I wanted the kids to learn more about our local crops and how they impact our everyday lives.  During the month of October we are going to visit farms, study the crops, see methods of harvesting, learn uses for the crops, and do many crop-related activities just for fun!  

First up is corn!  My sister and brother-in-law own a large family-operated farm.  We spent one morning with her as she gave us a tour of local corn fields and the pre-cooler (where the corn goes to be quickly cooled before shipping to grocery stores, etc.)

First, we went to a field of sweet corn ready to picked.  We learned about the 2 most common types of corn...field corn and sweet corn.  The boys learned what each is used for and how they are harvested.  

Field Corn:  harvested by a corn combine and used for livestock feed, seed, and other products
Sweet corn: harvested by hand and is the kind we eat :)

Below:   A mule train is used to pick the sweet corn by hand.

We walked through the rows of corn and looked carefully at the plant.  We opened an ear of corn and brought home a few to study.

Next, we traveled to Sweet Georgia Corn and received a wonderful tour by the office manager,
Ms. Mary Ann.  She explained the steps that must be taken to get the corn ready for later shipment.  

Step 1.  Trucks carry corn from the fields to the pre-cooler.
Step 2.  The boxes of corn are unloaded and a sample from each batch is inspected for bugs, damage, etc. 

Step 3:  The boxes of corn are placed on a slow-moving belt that carries them through a 45 minute ice cold shower.  
Step 4:  The forklifts then carry the COLD corn into the COLD refrigerated room.  It was so cold in there I couldn't think to take pictures. :)

Our visit to Sweet Georgia Corn was a highlight for the boys.  They loved seeing the trucks and forklifts all work together to get the corn ready for people to eat.  Ms. Mary Ann was so kind; she sent us home with a box full of corn.  Yummy!!!

After we left the pre-cooler we rode a mile down the road to the ice house.  Once semi trucks are loaded with the cold corn from the pre-cooler, ice must be sprayed into the truck to keep the produce cold for the shipment.  

They showed us how the ice sprays from the large hose.  No trucks were there at the time, so he just shot it into the parking lot.  Yes, the boys thought this was awesome!!

Once our field trip was over, we brought home our corn along with all of our knowledge and began to have fun!

Nature Journal and Corn Study

Together, we shucked one of the ears of corn.  We noticed the layers of leaves on the outside, the silk around the corn, and the yellow sweet corn inside.

Old Crow used his nature journal to draw the corn and label the parts.

Memphis Belle traced around her corn and then colored it yellow.

Bonnie even wanted in on the fun!  She carried this corn around for days.  :)

Candy Corn Math
We used candy corn as counters with our math.  Old Crow practiced addition sentences and Crazy Horse worked on numbers.

Corn Coloring Sheet
After breakfast one morning, we all colored a picture of corn.  While this was fun for Old Crow, it was great for the younger two to practice fine motor skills and color words.  Here is the coloring sheet we used.

Corn Sequencing
They enjoyed the pre-cooler visit so much, and I wanted to help them remember the steps we learned.  So for Crazy Horse I made pictures showing the 4 steps, and he sequenced them and glued them in order.  He did awesome!

For Old Crow, I typed the 4 steps and left a blank for him to fill in.  Then he created a flip book with his sequenced events and illustrations.  

He did a wonderful job and wanted to share it with Daddy.

Vidoes on Field Corn
We watched this video on how field corn is harvested using a corn combine.  We compared that to how sweet corn is picked by hand.

We also watched this video about corn which gives many examples of everyday items that use field corn.  We looked for some of these items in our home...batteries and crayons are a couple. :)

Corn Meal Letter Search
We talked about ways to eat corn and living in the south one favorite is always cornbread.  So we used corn meal as a sensory activity.  I hid Scrabble letters in a bowl of corn meal.  Old Crow found letters and spelled words like corn, fall, and sweet.

Crazy Horse searched for the letters in his name.  He stayed with this activity much longer than Old Crow...he is extremely tactile.

For Memphis Belle, I placed some on a cookie sheet and let her play in it with her hands.  She had a blast.  Be warned:  it can get messy. ;)

What's for dinner?  How about some corn on the cob and cornbread?!  We'll know exactly how it grew and how it got to our table.


Coming soon, our crop study on peanuts!


  1. What an awesome field trip! A field trip they would not have gotten from a "regular" school setting. I remember my students always thinking food came from the grocery store. We always had to have a long lesson on where it came from before the grocery store. Can't wait for the next one.
    Love y'all!

  2. What a great learning experience your children had. Great photos!

    Lynne, this is a experience that could have happened at "regular" school.