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Be'an Smart
December 20, 2002

Every elementary school in North Dakota and Minnesota now has a curriculum kit full of teaching activities using dry beans.

The Northarvest Bean Growers Association sponsored the production and distribution of the kit.

The kit includes lesson plans, an activity book, a video, audiocassette, poster, bulletin border, mylar balloon and cookbook -- all to help make learning with dry beans fun and easy.

Charlotte Iiam, professor Emeritus, Elementary Education, Moorhead State University, wrote the lessons. Rosalind Iiam wrote the history and geography lesson, Dry Beans Feeding The World. Lynne Bigwood, Northarvests home economist and promotion specialist, collaborated with Iiams on the health and nutrition lessons and supervised production of the materials. Ester Hylden, Park River, ND, wrote a childrens story for the guide.

Kids Kollectibles, Playground Publishing, created a song for the curriculum guide.

Field testers and facilitators were Richard Sabol, Glen Huettl, Wally Fegert, Troy Enga, Janice Hienz, Virginia Deitz, Amy Erickson, Casey Mears, Jeff Mootz, Misty Steeke and Doug L. Vannurden, North Dakota assistant supervisor, ag education. The following North Dakota schools were field test sites: Des Lacs/Burlington, Garrison, Lakota, Rolette, Fargo, Hillsboro and Rhame.

About beans and more

The curriculum guide shows how dry beans can be used to in history, geography, nutrition, economics, math, biology, music, literature, music and other classes to help children learn.

For a science lesson, the guide suggests having 1st through 3rd students examine dry beans through a magnifying glass, and sorting a 1/4 cup of mixed dry beans into each similar types and colors. Older students would use dry beans to measure how much water they soak up, and what happens to them when they boil. Planting dry bean and corn seeds and watching the seedlings grow is a popular student activity to illustrate science lessons on monocot and dicot leaf structure.

For a math class, the guide offers ideas on how to use a guess-the-number-of-beans-in-the-jar game to learn volume estimation.

For literature, there are writing assignment suggestions and reading lists such as the Benjamin Bean Family Reunion, written by Carol Amateis and Melissa Amateis-Marsh, Morris Publishing.

For ag studies, a video shows how Northarvest farmers and dealers grow, process and ship dry beans.

For economics, dry bean production and price graphs are used to teach students how to read a graph and how supply and demand affects the market.

For health and nutrition sessions, there is a Food Guide Pyramid cutout that children can put together in the classroom. The lesson plans provides teacher with information on dry bean nutrition. The Bean Cookbook also is included in the kit.

For history, the guide gives teacher information on the origin and use of beans in the Americas, China, Europe and Africa. Teachers can use the information to lead class discussion.

Teachers can even carry a dry bean theme into music class. The guide includes a tape of "The Bean Bop" and sheet music to the song "Oats, Peas, Beans and Barley Grow." While singing, children pretend they are farmers planting, cultivating and harvesting beans.

Other activities outlined in the guide include playing Mancala, an African game; making bean bags and solving bean puzzles and mazes.

Whats inside:  Agriculture in the Elementary Classroom

  • Dry Bean Lessons and Activity Book
  • Audio Cassette Featuring "Bean Bop"
  • Bean Bop Poster
  • Bean Bulletin Board Border
  • The Bean Cookbook
  • Video, "Dry Beans From The Heart of Northarvest Country"



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Northarvest Bean Growers Association | 50072 East Lake Seven Road | Frazee, MN 56544
Ph: 218-334-6351 | Fax: 218-334-6360 | Email: