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Teacher turns classroom into farm to encourage hands-on learning

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PETERSBURG,  Va. -- There is a talking turkey in the library of the Westview Early Childhood Education Center in Petersburg. The entire library looks like and sounds like a farm. Nearby, vegetables grow in planters and a chicken lays eggs in a cage.

The in-school farm is the work of Lead Literacy Teacher Wanda Corbett.

"They're little minds are like sponges," Ms. Corbett said. "And children learn at this age through hands-on activities. They're learning and they're having fun at the same time."

Corbett has worked for Petersburg Schools for over 30 years. Her parents were also longtime educators, she said while showing off a large gourd.

"This gourd was my great grandfather's," she said. "And he used it to cut an opening and make bird houses out of them."

Principal Stacie Parham said the school was lucky to have Ms. Corbett.

"Even the adults are coming in and are engaged with the different activities that she has.  We have a chicken in the library!" she said.

Learning about the farm includes other lessons to: counting, reading, science.

“We've got a station here for which one is heavier; which one is lighter.  Look at the peanut pumpkin, how do you like that?  Cute, huh? "

Her lessons build self-confidence.

"Everyone pat yourself on the back and say, 'Good job self.'"

Lessons that build better minds.

Do you know a student, teacher, or school staff member who deserves to be recognized in a Building Better Minds segment? If so, let Rob Cardwell know here.

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