Target Grade Level / Age Range:

3 rd-5 th grades


45 minutes


Students will explore the uses of common Iowa products by playing the agriculture version of the popular game, Pictionary.


  • Blank paper or dry erase boards
  • Pencils or dry erase markers
  • One minute timer
  • Agriculture Pictionary cards, printed 4 per page and cut
  • A Hog Ate My Homework by Gary Metivier

Interest Approach or Motivator:  

Have students read on their own or as a class Gary Metivier’s A Hog Ate My Homework. Ensure that students use a variety of research-based comprehension strategies, such as visualizing, making inferences, and summarizing.

Background – Agricultural Connections (what would a teacher need to know before teaching this lesson):

Iowa crops and livestock can be found in some pretty amazing – and unexpected – places. Corn and soybeans are very common ingredients in household products like laundry soap, hand soap, and candy. By-products from the production of beef and pork are also found in common products, such as Jell-O, insulin and chewing gum.  


  • Tootsie Roll: tootsie rolls contain corn glucose as a sweetener and modified starch as a thickener
  • Diapers: corn starch can be used for absorbency in diapers
  • Taco Shell: whole corn is cooked and processed into taco shells
  • Ethanol: Corn is fermented to create fuel for gas engines; by-products from this processes are fed to livestock
  • Ketchup: Modified corn starch is used to thicken condiments and corn syrup can be used to sweeten them
  • Hand soap: Corn is dry-milled and used in soaps
  • Cattle feed: Cattle are fed whole, rolled or cracked corn as a source of carbohydrates and protein
  • Chewing gum: Modified corn starch is used in chewing gum to improve texture
  • Pudding: Modified corn starch ad corn flour can be used to give pudding it’s distinct texture
  • Batteries: Corn starch is used as an electrical conductor in batteries
  • Hot cocoa mix: most chocolate drinks contain full-fat flour from soybeans
  • Pie crust: Soybean full-fat flour is used to make pie crusts
  • Tofu: Tofu is made from whole soybeans for protein
  • Newspaper ink: Refined soybean oil is used to make ink for printing
  • Crayons: Refined soybean oil is used to make crayons
  • Firework: Soybean oil by-products are used to make explosives
  • Biodiesel: Soybeans are crushed and the oil is processed to make biodiesel
  • Mayonnaise: Refined soybean oil is a primary ingredient in mayonnaise
  • Salad dressing: Salad dressing contains refined soybean oil
  • Chocolate: Chocolates often contain soybean oil or soy lecithin
  • Noodles: Noodles often contain soy flour or protein
  • Jello: gelatin from skin and bones is used in many gummy substances, including jell-o. The bones are also used to bleach and process refined sugar
  • First aid cream: Beef hide provides a base for many ointments and creams
  • Toilet paper: Fatty acids from cattle help make toilet paper soft
  • Glue: Cattle hooves and horns are used to make glue
  • Dish soap: Beef fat is often used in soaps
  • Camera film: film is made thicker with gelatin from cattle
  • Paintbrush: Cattle hair can be used to make artists’ brushes
  • Makeup: Fatty acids are used in cosmetics
  • Rubber: Fatty acids are used in cosmetics
  • Drumheads: Drumheads can be made from pigskin
  • Chalk: Chalk contains pork fatty acids
  • Glass: Pork bone meal is used to make glass
  • Matches: Fatty acids are used in matches
  • Plastic: Pork fatty acids and glycerin are used in the production of plastic 
  • Shampoo: Pork fatty acids are an important component of soaps and shampoos
  • Ice cream: Capric acid, a component of ice cream, is derived from pork fatty acids
  • Candle: Pork fatty acids help stiffen candles and raise the melting point
  • Shoe: Shoes can be made from animal hide
  • Cream cheese: Gelatin from pigs is used to make cream cheese stable

Procedures (main points, step by step activities, and the full content to be presented to students)

  1. After reading A Hog Ate My Homework, host a class discussion with students focused on the following topics:
    1. Who is the main character? What is he like?
    2. Can you summarize the story?
    3. What are some of the lessons the main character learns in the story?
    4. What is the theme of the story?
    5. What does the main character learn about agriculture?
    6. What are some of the products that the main character finds corn and soybeans to be in?
  2. Introduce the concept of Pictionary. Explain that students will get into groups of 4-5 and each group will receive several blank pieces of paper (or a white board), a timer and the Pictionary cards.
  3. Select one student in each group to draw first and keep score.
  4. Demonstrate the game in front of the class with a selected student. That student will select a Pictionary card off the top of the card pile, read the card silently to themselves, and have one minute to draw the product that’s on the card. Group members should guess what the product is until a person guesses successfully or sixty seconds have passed.
  5. After a successful guess or the allotted time, the student who drew the product should ask if there are any guesses as to which crop or livestock is an ingredient in the product. A correct guess awards an extra point to the person who guessed the commodity. The score keeper will award a point to the person who guessed the drawing and the person who guessed the commodity.
  6. A student who guesses the drawing successfully will be the next person to draw. Repeat steps 3-5.
  7. After a half hour, call for the game to end. The student in each group with the highest number of points will come to the front of the classroom. Each student has 60 seconds to write as many products as possible on the white board. The student who writes the most pr oducts will be the class winner.

Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)

Extension Activities (how can students extend learning outside of the classroom?)

  • Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation’s By-Product Riddles game


  • Original idea from Yvonne Gaul


Kelsey Faivre

National Agriculture Literacy Outcomes

  • Culture, Society, Economy and Geography Outcomes
  • Explain the value of agriculture and how it is important in daily life

Iowa Core Standards

  •  Literacy:
    • RL.4.IA.1 Employ the full range of research-based comprehension strategies, including making connections, determining importance, questioning, visualizing, making inferences, summarizing, and monitoring for comprehension.
    • RL.4.1 Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
    • RL.4.3 Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).

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