As an author, there is this ubiquitous bit of advice we always get and give about book publishing: that launching the book into the market is really the hardest part of the entire process. With The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen that would be true if selling them were my end goal. But since it goes well beyond that, to a deep desire to change the way kids and their families relate to and understand the food on their tables, the launch has really only been the beginning. At the end of the day I’ve been much more concerned that the book would ultimately flop in the stage after the launch; when it really counts most.

So, shortly after the launch when I found out that Illinois Ag in the Classroom (AITC) had picked up The Cow and started recommending it to not just classrooms within their own state, but also to other state AITC programs I was ecstatic.

And, last week, when Kevin Daughtry, Illinois AITC’s Education Director, emailed me about curriculum they’d developed to go alongside The Cow… well, ecstatic doesn’t even begin to cover it.

This is an incredible packet of curriculum, available for free online, that includes age-appropriate lessons on farming and food.

Topics range from the history of breakfast to the anatomy of chickens to the history, origins and production of maple syrup, and so much more. There are interesting facts, engaging activities and really, just a good mix of everything you want in a well-rounded early elementary curriculum. There’s even a model cow and a timeline of the history of chocolate milk.

And I love that they’ve made it available to anyone, not just Illinois school teachers. Homeschoolers, Moms and Dads who just want to supplement their reading with some activities, and even school teachers from other states have an opportunity to benefit from this. The only way it could get better is if it somehow combined reading, writing and bacon… oh, wait! It does that, too. With a bacon poem. I cannot make this stuff up, people.

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