After almost three decades, the Traveling Farm is traveling to a new home.
In October of 1990, the DeKalb County Ag in the Classroom News & Notes newsletter announced the availability of a Traveling Farm with this description:
“The Traveling Farm consists of four buildings, a barn, a farmhouse, a machine shed, and a corn crib. The buildings contain materials for teaching concepts relating to agriculture, nutrition, and ecology.
Materials range from kits with pre-planned lesson plans to video tapes. The possibilities are endless for ways to incorporate use of the Traveling Farm in your class this school year.”
At the same time, a Preschool Barn was introduced. Like the Traveling Farm, the Preschool Barn was loaded with educational materials like books, puppets, posters, and videos.
The buildings were constructed by Woodworks of DeKalb and brightly painted by artist Diane Gilmore.
“When I started working here in 1998, the farm wasn’t being used very much, but the Preschool Barn was still in demand,” says Ag Literacy Coordinator Rhodora Collins. “I retired the smaller buildings and made the second barn available with similar contents.”
Throughout the years, the Preschool Barns remained popular with area preschools, day care providers, and kindergarten teachers. Frequently both barns were on loan to different teachers while others waited their turn to borrow one. New items like books, farm animal stampers, realistic toy farm animals, and grain samples were added.
There was one problem, however. “They were too heavy for me to lift,” says Collins. Each time a teacher borrowed or returned a barn, reinforcements would have to be called in to assist in getting it in or out of their vehicle. “I loved the barns, but I knew it was time to reevaluate them the day both people I could usually count on for help said they had hurt their backs.”
Still appealing, still durable, and still functional, the farm buildings needed a new home. They found one at the DeKalb County History Center in Sycamore.
“The DeKalb County History Center is excited to be the new home to the Traveling Farm and the Preschool Barn,” says Michelle Donahoe, the center’s Executive Director. “We are located on a former farmstead with similar buildings, which is a nice connection. Also, as we prepare for our upcoming Smithsonian exhibit ‘Crossroads: Change in Rural America,’ these hands-on buildings will be a great addition to our education collection.”
Preschool and kindergarten teachers, fear not. The barn contents are still available and better than ever with the addition of new books and a Farm Matching Game. The resource kit has been renamed Farm Discovery, and it is now packed into an easier-to-carry plastic tote. Visit www.GrowYoungMinds.com to view its contents and reserve it for your classroom.
Known as the Traveling Farm, this set of farm building-shaped storage boxes was filled with educational materials and made available to 4th-6th grade teachers beginning in 1990.