From Field to Table
Target Grade Level / Age Range:
3rd – 5th grade
Two 40 minute class periods (can be shortened with research for homework rather than class time).
Students will understand that agriculture is a wide and diverse field that includes many occupations and is necessary to produce food and other many other goods we need.
- Chart paper
- Markers/colored pencils
- Computers/tablets for research
Vocabulary (with definitions)
- Agriculture - the science or practice of farming, including cultivation of the soil for the growing of crops and the rearing of animals to provide food, wool, and other products.
- Capital - wealth in the form of money or other assets owned by a person or organization or available or contributed for a particular purpose such as starting a company or investing.
- Consumers - a person who purchases goods and services for personal use
- Profit - a financial gain, especially the difference between the amount earned and the amount spent in buying, operating, or producing something.
- Loss - an amount of money lost by a business or organization.
- Environment - the natural world, as a whole or in a particular geographical area, especially as affected by human activity.
- Hybrid - the offspring of two plants or animals of different species or varieties,
- Livestock - farm animals regarded as an asset.
- Crop - a cultivated plant that is grown as food, especially a grain, fruit, or vegetable.
- Organic crop - Organic farming is a form of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost, and biological pest control.
Interest Approach or Motivator
Place students in groups of 3-5. Each group should have a leader, a researcher, and 1-3 artists. Give the group 4-6 minutes to choose a crop they will be tracing from farm to table. Some stipulations to consider giving students (to help them and help you):
- Must be a crop that is/is not grown in Iowa/the Midwest
- Must be a crop that can be, but is not always, fed to livestock
- Must be a crop that you have consumed today
- Must be a crop that is most often processed rather than eaten raw
- No two groups should have the same crop.
Have students collaboratively map the path of a crop – seed to table. Make the map on a large piece of bulletin board paper so there is room to add to the original map. Doing this will tap into prior knowledge but will also leave visual gaps where learning needs to occur.
- Explain to students that they will be mapping the path of a crop from seed to consumption. They should include information about the crop, such as where it is grown, and the careers that are necessary to get the crop from the farm onto a dinner plate. A representative drawing should accompany each step, and students are encouraged to create their chart in a timeline format (or other easy to understand, clear style).
- Give students an example to work from. Map out on a white board or piece of chart paper the path of corn, which could include:
- A farmer buys seed from a seed salesman. He uses his planter, sprayer, tractor, combine, and grain cart to plant, care for, and harvest the crop. An agriculture engineer helped design and build these products.
- In the fall, the farmer harvests his corn. A truck driver transports the corn to a cooperative, where the grain is stored in large metal bins. Cooperative managers use logistics skills to manage this and many other farmers’ grain.
- The farmer sells his corn to a local farmer /corn processing plant.
- Local cattle farmer uses the corn to feed his livestock. An animal nutritionist balances the diet of the animals.
- At the corn processing plant, chemists use science and math to turn the corn into high fructose corn syrup, which is shipped by way of rail car to a candy factory.
- Continue until the corn has reached the plate (in the form of beef or candy).
- Give students 25-30 minutes to do research on their crop using the internet and library. Within their groups, students should determine the most efficient way to use this time, knowing there is an impending chart to be made and a presentation to be given at the end of the lesson time. Once students report they are done with research, check over their notes to assure they are on the right track.
- After student research has been given an okay, give each group 1-3 pieces of chart paper. Allow students to work as a group on their chart of 20-30 minutes.
- For best possible results, a teacher could use this time to do their own research on the crops to fill in any gaps students may have.
- After time is up, call each group to the front to present their crop. Each group member must speak as a part of the presentation.
- After each group has completed their presentation, compare crops and host a class discussion. Some discussion prompts could include:
- Do all crops end up being fed to humans?
- What needs do agriculture supply for?
- What careers did you learn about? What careers do you want to learn more about?
- How does geography impact the crops that are grown? Does geography impact agribusinesses and processing?
- What value does processing add to the crops?
Extension Activities (how students can carry this beyond the classroom)
- Students could connect with someone who is employed in the occupation that they chose. They could interview the person or have them come and visit the class and talk about their job.
- Read the book Who Grew my Soup? By Tom Darbyshire. Have students illustrate the farms and products in the correct region on a printed map of the United States.
- Read the book Harvest Year with students and have the class map out 5-10 crops from the book on a large US map.
National Agriculture Literacy Outcomes
- Theme 3:
- Diagram the path of production for a processed product, from farm to table
- Distinguish between unprocessed and processed food
- Theme 4:
- Provide examples of science being applied in farming for food, clothing, and shelter products
- Theme 5:
- Provide examples of agricultural products available, put not produced in their local area and state
- Explain the value of agriculture and how it is important in daily life
- Discover that there are many jobs in agriculture
Iowa Core Standards
- Social Studies
- SS.3.13. Identify how people use natural resources, human resources, and physical capital to produce goods and services.
- SS.3.15. Analyze why and how individuals, businesses, and nations around the world specialize and trade.
- SS.4.17. Create a geographic representation to illustrate how the natural resources in an area affect the decisions people make.
- SS.4.14. Explain the reasons why the costs of goods and services rise and fall.
- SS.4.25. Analyze the impact of technological changes in Iowa, across time and place.
- SS.4.26. Explain how Iowa’s agriculture has changed over time.
- SS.5.13. Describe how goods and services are produced and distributed domestically and globally.
- 21st Century Skills:
- 21.6–8.ES.4 Essential Concept and/or Skill: Demonstrate initiative, self–direction, creativity, and entrepreneurial thinking while exploring individual talents and skills necessary to be successful.
- 21.3–5.TL.2 Essential Concept and/or Skill: Use interactive technologies in a collaborative group to produce digital presentations or products in a curricular area.
- SS.3–5.G.2 Essential Concept and/or Skill: Understand how geographic and human characteristics create culture and define regions.
- 21.3–5.ES.1 Essential Concept and/or Skill: Communicate and work productively with others emphasizing collaboration and cultural awareness to produce quality work. Work appropriately and productively with others.
- 21.3–5.ES.5 Essential Concept and/or Skill: Demonstrate productivity and accountability by producing quality work. Deliver quality job performance on time.
- 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.
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