Are you thinking about starting a Passion Project in your school? If so, read I Am Farmer: Growing An Environmental Movement in Cameroon. In this true account, we learn how Tantoh Nforba’s passion for farming saved lives. As a young boy, Nforba asked many questions about agriculture. He spent a great deal of time digging, planting, reading and observing. Nforba’s devotion to farming deepened after he got sick from drinking the local water. Villagers also got sick. Nforba knew how to fix this problem. But with limited resources, he needed help. He asked the villagers to bring whatever tools and materials they had to start building wells. They got to work and made a difference. Their water is clean. They are feeling better and their crops are thriving.
Baptiste and Miranda Paul did an excellent job telling this true story. The engaging text connects readers to Cameroon, Africa by using local phrases. A glossary and pronunciation guide help decipher the words. Heartwarming details of Nforba’s profound work are described in the Author’s Note. Readers will appreciate seeing Nforba and his village in photographs on the endpapers. Mixed-medium illustrations offer visual details that enrich the story. Elizabeth Zunon invites readers to see the landscape of Cameroon with a collage of different shades and patterns. Readers will also see the true joy on Nforba’s face as he pursues his passion for learning about farming.
AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Explore/Think V.A.1 Learners develop and satisfy personal curiosity by reading widely and deeply in multiple formats and write and create for a variety of purposes.
Farmer Tantoh’s story will inspire learners to immerse themselves in a passion project. Try these ideas to bring a passion project to your library or classroom:
Day 1: Write the words, “I want to learn more about…” on an anchor chart. Invite learners to write or draw ideas on sticky notes and add them to the chart. Ask learners to write questions they have about their topic.
Before Day 2: Look for possible groupings with the sticky notes and questions. Collect books and online resources for each group. Allow older learners to curate their own resources.
Day 2: Invite learners to work in groups to find answers to their questions.
Day 3: Ask learners to share why learning about their passions matter. Brainstorm ideas on how they can use their passions to help a community project.
Ongoing: Identify a community problem. Develop a class action plan to solve the problem using the skills learned from the passion projects.
Let’s see how far learners can go by following their passion for learning. Take a look at this video of Famer Tantoh for more inspiration:
If you like these lesson ideas, please take a look at our book, Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades. This resource includes ready-to-go lesson plans that meet the standards. Worksheets, assessments and rubrics are included.