Target Grade Level / Age Range:



30 minutes


Students will use agriculture and hunger as a vehicle to understand critical thinking and problem solving skills.


  • Food from Farms by Nancy Dickmann
    • Available in IALF’s Lending Library
  • Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
  • Problem and Solution Graphic Organizer printed for each student

Suggested Companion Resources:

  • 1st Grade Wonders Unit 3 Week 5 (Research question: Where does food come from? How is food produced?)
  • Farming by Gail Gibbons*
  • A Year on the Farm by Holly Dufek*
  • A Day in the Life of a Farmer by Heather Adamson*

*Available through IALF’s Lending Library


  • Urban farming: growing or producing food in a city
  • Compost: made by collecting plant material in a bin and letting it decay; useful as fertilizer
  • Greenhouse: a glass building that protects plants while they are growing

Background – Agricultural Connections:

  • This lesson uses a broad hook, “where does food come from?” to lead into a lesson based around critical thinking. Students will first be exposed to how food is produced, and then led into the idea that there are some issues for some people to obtain food. Then, the lesson will challenge what they have thought about farming and food production, and coax them into creating solutions of their own.
    • In order to do this successfully, in your classroom, it might be necessary to elongate or elaborate specific portions. For instance, if your students struggle with understanding how food is produced, it could be beneficial to add to that discussion or add another activity with it. If your students have a good grasp on that, but are struggling with problem solving, perhaps you could create multiple smaller problem solving activities.
  • Urban farming is slightly different from community gardening or homesteading.  Quote from “Greensgrow” website: “You don’t have to be a corporation to be an urban farm or have a large tract of land. An individual, a couple of friends, a nonprofit entity, or neighborhood group can start and run an urban farm. There is no one correct sales outlet for an urban farm. Food can be the sold to restaurants or at a farmers’ market, given to a local soup kitchen or church, but the food is raised primarily to be moved (through some form of commerce) from the grower to the user.” - See more at:
    • When discussing urban farming, one can also discuss vertical farming, or the idea of farming upward. There are many different creative ways people are trying to grow food indoors, on roofs, or in small areas.
    • There are many issues that attribute to food scarcity and hunger. These things could be poverty, lack of trade, lack of infrastructure, corrupt governments, lack of education, and many, many more. This issue can seem daunting, but the book about Farmer Will Allen helps break down his problem solving skills in a way that’s good for students.
  • Composting is valuable because it puts important nutrients back into the soil, thus making it richer and helping plants grow.
    • Part of the fertility of the soil comes from the organic matter content. Organic material like compost can hold lots more nutrients than other components of soil. High organic matter content also helps soil hold water, feed microbes, and contribute to good soil structure.

Interest Approach or Motivator:

Have students find a partner and talk to them about their favorite food. Have them describe it and then talk about where they think it comes from.


  1. Ask students if they know where food comes from.  Where to tomatoes come from? What about yogurt? Do pineapples come from the same place as eggs?
  2. Read aloud Food from Farms. Talk about the components of the book, including farms, farmers, farmer’s markets, plants on a farm, animals on a farm, packing the food, transporting the food, and grocery stores. What did students already know? What did they learn? What other things come from farms?
  3. Then ask students to “turn and talk” about who a farmer is and where farms are located.
  4. Lead into the problem and solution scenario by reviewing students’ previous knowledge.
  5. Ask them whether they think people being hungry is a problem in the world. Guide students to the answer that it is a problem. Have them write/draw their visualization of “world hunger” in the first box of the “Problem and Solution Graphic Organizer” (attached document).
  6. Then guide them with books, tablets, and any other resources to research ideas for solutions to the world hunger problem and write/draw one in the middle box.
    1. Allow students to be creative, but practical. Help them understand some limiting factors, like resources, land, and infrastructure.
  7. Introduce the concept of “urban farming” to the students, being sure to point out that anyone can be a farmer and farming can happen anywhere. Ask students how many previously said farms could be in cities.
  8. Read aloud Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table.
    1. Be sure to highlight the many problems Will faces and how he perseveres to solve them in order to help his community and the world.
  9. Allow the students to rethink their solutions and write/draw a new idea (if they have one) in the final box on the graphic organizer.
  10. Finish the class with a short discussion about the problem and potential solutions. Ask them questions like, why is it important to solve problems? What can we learn from Farmer Will? What kinds of problems do you have to solve every day? What about your parents or your teacher? Allow students to share in pairs, small groups, or whole group.

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

Did you know? (Ag facts):

Extension Activities:

  • Read more books such as Farms Feed the World by Lee Sullivan Hill, Visit to the Farm by B.A. Honea, or Garbage Helps Our Garden Grow: A Compost Story by Linda Glaser
  • Read about others who have helped with world hunger such as The Boy Who Changed the World by Andy Andrews
  • Interview someone who is a farmer, food truck driver, grocery store worker, etc. about the importance of their job related to people having food
  • Have students start a compost pile or bin at their house or at school. Have them document how they see things change or develop over time.
  • Plant a garden either at home or as a class. Ask students what plants (within reason) they would like to plant. Help them learn about plant lifecycles, as well as healthy eating, responsibility (in weeding, watering, harvesting, etc.), and other skills.



Denise Morris

Organization Affiliation:

Oskaloosa Elementary School

National Agriculture Literacy Outcomes:

  • T1.K-2.a: Describe how farmers/ranchers use land to grow crops and support livestock
  • T2.K-2.c. Identify examples of feed/food products eaten by animals and people
  • T3.K-2.b: Recognize that agriculture provides our most basic necessities: food, fiber (fabric or clothing), energy, and shelter
  • T5.K-2.e: Identify the people and careers involved from production to consumption of agricultural products.

Iowa Core Standards:

  • Language Arts:
    • Kindergarten:
      • RL.K.9: With prompting and support, compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in familiar stories.
      • W.K.3: Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to narrate a single event or several loosely linked events, tell about the events in the order in which they occurred, and provide a reaction to what happened.
    • 1 st grade:
      • W.1.3: Write narratives in which they recount two or more appropriately sequenced events, include some details regarding what happened, use temporal words to signal event order, and provide some sense of closure.
      • RL.1.9: Compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in stories.
    • 2 nd grade:
      • W.2.3: Write narratives in which they recount a well-elaborated event or short sequence of events, include details to describe actions, thoughts, and feelings, use temporal words to signal event order, and provide a sense of closure.
  • Social Studies
    • Kindergarten:
      • SS.K.8: Determine a procedure for how people can effectively work together to make decisions to improve their classrooms or communities.
    • 1 st grade:
      • SS.1.11: Compare the goods and services that people in the local community produce with those that are produced in other communities.
      • SS.1.19: Compare how people in different types of communities use goods from local and distant places to meet their daily needs.
    • 2 nd grade:
      • SS.2.11: Evaluate choices about how to use scarce resources that involve prioritizing wants and needs.
      • SS.2.12: Identify how people use natural resources to produce goods and services.
  • 21st Century Skills:
    • 21.K-2.ES.3: Learn leadership skills and demonstrate integrity, ethical behavior, and social responsibility.
    • 21.K-2.KL.3: Recognize critical literacy/thinking skills related to personal, family, and community wellness.
  • Iowa Core Science Standards:
    • K-2-ETS1-1: Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.