Nature’s Teachable Moment at Birthday Party

September 20, 2011 | 12:09 pm

I love a good birthday party! One where the kids go home on a sugar high and a happy memory. This past weekend, our four-year-old was turning five. She loves being a cowgirl and insisted on a cowgirl-themed birthday party! We called all cowpokes and invited them to mosey over to our backyard for a rootin’ tootin’ good time! All of our little wrangler friends were encouraged to wear their cowgirl or cowboy duds!

We transformed our backyard into a western landscape with straw bales and stick horses. The cowgirls and cowboys mined for gold in the sand box; raced wild horses through terrain of the yard; played Cowgirl, Cowgirl, Sheriff (as opposed to duck, duck, goose); corralled pigs (pink balloons) with flyswatters; drank root beer; and snacked on roasted peanuts.

With a captivated audience, I turned a birthday party game into a teachable moment. All of our wrangler friends live around agriculture. Their houses are between wheat, corn, and milo fields, but they do not experience agriculture (unless the wind changes direction and they get a nose full of the cattle lot).

We had a sweet corn husking contest. Each cowpoke was given an ear of sweet corn. On the word “go,” they pulled down the husks and brushed off the hair. For many of them, it was the first time they were given the opportunity to husk. Next, we cooked the sweet corn and had a corn eating contest. And oh my, they were asking for seconds and thirds and actually ate more corn than birthday cake and ice cream! I introduced the kids to my dad, the farmer who grew the corn. With a short lesson on how the corn was grown and how it got to the party, they now have an experience to draw from that will help them identify with farmers, who grow the food that line the aisles of grocery stores.


When we put a face, an experience, or a lesson on food production, it provides a new perspective for them to draw upon.

Our cowgirl had a rootin’ tootin good time, and her cowpoke friends left with corny memories!