Scrambled States: Colorado and California – 5/29

California and Colorado


Olive who? Olive you!  And you’ll love learning about these two states today!  Back to the front of the alphabet as we learn about California’s olives and Colorado’s proso millet with these fun activities!


Colorado is ranked #1 in the nation for production of proso millet!  Proso millet is an annual grass grown as a grain crop and used for bird food, pet food, and even livestock feed. It can even be ground down to be used as a flour substitute when cooking!  This grass originates from Eastern Europe and was brought to the U.S. by early English settlers!  Today, Colorado grows around 6.4 million bushels each year! 

Today you will meet two characters who are an unlikely match! Follow along on their adventure with today’s read aloud “Max and Bird” by Ed Vere.

Since proso millet is used in bird feed, your activity today is to see what bird feed, and the seeds in the feed, birds in your area prefer!  Fill up two containers (or bird feeders) with different types of bird feed.  Set them outside about 6 feet apart from each other.  What types of birds are visiting the feeders?  At the end of the day, go look at the bird feed.  Was there one seed that was more popular than other seeds within the feed?  

Check out this image and compare the size, color, and texture of different grain seeds!

Learn more about Colorado here!


Although California only produces less than 1% of the world’s olives (major producers are Spain and Greece), it is the only commercial olive growing state in the U.S.! With a near 400 olive growers in the state, California has over 40,000 acres of olive trees producing on average 81,000 tons of table olives and more than 4 million gallons of olive oil.  With around 75 different types of olives grown, there are many options available for olive oils! The Arbequina olive is the most popular type of olive used for olive oil. 

Once harvested, they are rushed to the mill, rinsed in fresh water, separated from leaves and stems, and ground into a paste. The paste is then mixed to encourage the oil to separate from the surrounding vegetable matter and water!  Check out this video showing how olives are turned into oil!

For over 5,000 years, olives have been cultivated in the Mediterranean!  Olive oil has historically been used for religious rituals, medicines, soap-making, body care, and fuel in oil lamps!  Today’s activity is to make your own olive oil!  This recipe uses kalamata olives, but you can experiment and try any type of olive!  Use your olive oil for the STEM activity below!

Learn more about California here!


You learned that olive oil has been used to fuel oil lamps in the past!  Make your own olive oil lamp today!

Something for Everyone

Sometimes bird feed is appealing to other critters!

Assessment and Extended Response


  1. What is proso millet used for? (Bird food, pet food, and livestock food)
  2. How much millet does Colorado produce each year? (Around 6.4 million bushels)

*Why do you think some seeds were preferred over other seeds in the bird feed?


  1. What does California grow olives for? (Primarily to be made into olive oil)
  2. How many acres of olive trees are in California? (Over 40,000 acres that produce around 81,000 tons of olives on average each year)
  3. Where do Olives originate from? (The Mediterranean area and a commercially produced in Greece and Spain)

*Compare your homemade olive oil to some you bought from a store.  Observe the similarities and differences in color, texture, smell, and taste. 

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