Target Grade Level / Age Range: 

3rd grade


3 days/ 30 minutes per day


Students will develop an understanding of where the food they eat for lunch originated.


Suggested Companion Resources (books, websites, etc.)

Vocabulary (with definitions)

  • Agriculture – raising crops and livestock for food, fiber and fuel. 

Interest Approach or Motivator:

Begin lesson by asking students what they have eaten so far in the day. Have them share with a neighbor all they have eaten. As a class, make a list on the board of one food or drink each person has consumed so far that day. Ask the class to think about where those items came from. 

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

All food students eat comes from a farm. All meat, like ham, turkey or cheeseburgers, comes from livestock animals that are often grown in Midwestern states like Iowa. Fruits and vegetables can be grown in many states, and are produced on farms. Iowa’s biggest crops, corn and soybeans, are ingredients in many common lunch and snack foods in the form of corn syrup, corn starch, and soybean oil. In fact, almost everything students eat comes from a farm, with the exception of salt, which is mined. 

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

  1. Day 1- 30 minutes
    1. Pass out a copy of the school lunch menu provided to students. Have them look over that day’s items for lunch.
    2. Read How Did That Get in My Lunchbox? aloud to students. 
    3. In groups, have students analyze the lunch menu for the day to determine all of the foods that come from agriculture. Have students decide on the source of foods that are processed, such as the hamburger bun, as well. 
    4. List student answers on board.
    5. Assign each group a lunch item they will research tomorrow on the journey it took to arrive on their lunch tray.
  2. Day 2- 30 minutes
    1. Have each group visit the assigned YouTube video to watch how their food arrived on their lunch tray.
      1. Milk- 
      2. Potatoes- 
      3. Buns-    
      4. Corn- 
      5. Strawberries- 
      6. Hamburger- 
    2. As students watch, they need to write the steps it took for their food to get from the farm to their lunch tray.
    3. When they have finished their steps, they will meet with the teacher to go over the steps to make sure they logically make sense (may need to help them include transportation to get from the farm to the mill or factory). As student groups wait to meet with the teacher, they will watch the other videos on how food arrives on their trays.
    4. When each pair or group has met with the teacher, they will get their art supplies (crayons, markers, colored pencils) and index cards and draw a picture and write a word or words below the picture of what is happening.  Example- cow eating corn (above is a picture of a cow eating corn), cow is fat (above a picture of a fat cow), cow in trailer (above a cow in a trailer), cow sold (above cow with money) etc.
  3. Day 3- 30 minutes
    1. Groups will practice with each other on what they will say to the class when they present, make sure cards are in order, and add any finishing touches (5-7 minutes)
    2. Groups will share with the class the steps it took to get their food from the farm to the tray. As they talk about each card, they will clip it to the attached yarn extending from one end of the board to the other end showing the sequence.
  4. Wrap up as a whole class what similarities were noticed as each group presented and the importance of agriculture.

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

• School lunch menu 

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

  • Students will choose a breakfast or lunch menu, different from the one just completed, and will trace the path of each item from farm to table using YouTube videos or non-fiction books borrowed from the AEA. Students will create a menu, like what you get at a restaurant that shows in pictures and a few words the sequence of steps it took to get each item onto the lunch tray. The menus will be on display outside the cafeteria on the day their selected lunch or breakfast is served. 


Jennifer Hardee - Essex Elementary 3rd grade teacher
Kelsey Faivre – Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation 



National Agriculture Literacy Outcomes

  • Theme 3- Food, Health, and Lifestyle Outcomes 
    • Diagram the path of production for a processed product, from farm to table 
    • Distinguish between processed and unprocessed food

Iowa Core Standards

  • 21st Century Skills:
    • 21.3–5.TL.3 Essential Concept and/or Skill: Utilize digital tools and resources to investigate real–world issues, answer questions, or solve problems.
  • English Language Arts:
    • SL.3.4 Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.
  • Social Studies:
    • SS.3.13. Identify how people use natural resources, human resources, and physical capital to produce goods and services.
  • Science
    • 3-LS1-1. Develop models to describe that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles but all have in common birth, growth, reproduction, and death.



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