Target Grade Level / Age Range:  

1 st grade


Two, one-hour class periods


To help students understand pigs and their products, producers, and consumers by using various nonfiction books, and activities.


Suggested Companion Resources:

  • Down on the Farm: Pigs by Hannah Ray
  • All Pigs Are Beautiful by Dick King-Smith
  • Pigs on the Farm by Mari C. Schuh
  • Course of Pig Products.pdf


  • Community:   A place where a person lives, works, plays and solves problems.
  • Consumer:   A person who purchases goods and services for personal use
  • Producer:   A person, company, or country that makes, grows, or supplies goods or commodities for sale.
  • Boar: adult, male pig
  • Piglet: baby pig
  • Sow: adult, female pig
  • Swine: a pig
  • Pig farmer: a person who is knowledgeable of pigs and is capable of feeding and caring for them properly to keep them happy and healthy

Background Agricultural Connections:

  • Pigs are part of the swine family.
    • Fully intact males are called boars
    • Castrated males are called barrows
    • Mature females are called sows
    • Young females are called gilts
    • Baby pigs are called piglets or pigs. Once a pig reaches market weight (about 240 pounds) they are generally called hogs.
    • It takes about 6 months for a baby pig to grow to market size.
  • A sow gives birth to a litter of pigs about twice per year. A litter usually has six to 12 baby pigs. During the first 3-5 weeks, baby pigs are nourished by their mother's milk. Eventually they are weaned and eat corn, soybeans and other grains.
  • Iowa is the largest pork producing state in the United States. Most pigs in Iowa live in barns, where they are given balanced rations that include corn, soybeans, vitamins and minerals.
  • Predators are a concern in hog production. Animals such as dogs and coyotes will prey on the pigs, especially when they are young. This has been a large reason to move the animals indoors.
  • When they are indoors, they can also be monitored more closely, air temperature and quality can be regulated, and disease can be kept at bay by using biosecurity practices.
  • Iowa is also a major producer of soybeans, corn, and eggs. The huge agriculture industry in Iowa can be attributed to Iowa s climate and soil. Iowa s soil is rich and dark, and holds the nutrients needed to grow crops. The climate of cold winters and warm summers is ideal for growing corn and soybeans. The large supply of corn and soybeans brings livestock industry into the state.
    • This is a leading reason for so much livestock being raised in the state; the food source is right here.
  • Pigs are raised to produce pork, which is a very commonly eaten meat product. Pork products include bacon, pork chops, ribs, pork loins, tenderloins, and ham.
    • Some byproducts of hog production include fabric dyes, plastics, candles, chewing gum, brushes, upholstery, heart valves, drum heads, and more.
  • To incorporate the careers portion, a FarmChat® would be a good option.
    • FarmChat® is essentially a remote field trip. Using Skype, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, or another video chat platform, you can chat with a farmer from the classroom. If you already know of a hog farmer in the area, you can go to them directly. If not, you can contact your local Agriculture in the Classroom coordinator, Extension office, Farm Bureau office, or the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation. These resources can help you locate a farmer and may be willing to assist in a FarmChat® program.
    • Before the program itself, it may be helpful to have an outline built for you and the farmer to stay on track and allow time for questions.
      • The document FarmChat® Sample Outline – Swine.docx can be helpful for this. You can tailor it to your classroom topics and specific units you are covering currently.
      • Students generally really enjoy asking questions to the camera, so working with them in advance to build appropriate and thoughtful questions might be beneficial.
    • If a FarmChat® is not possible, you can find a collection of videos on the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation’s YouTube channel, here:

Interest Approach or Motivator:

  • Write the word “pig” on the board. Ask students what words they think of when you say the word “pig.” Record their words on the chart paper.
  • To encourage class participation and to better gauge prior understanding, ask further questions. Some questions could be:
    • "What color(s) can pigs be?"
    • "Why do we raise pigs?"
    • "Where do pigs usually live?"
    • "What do pigs eat?"        


Part 1: Literacy:

  1. Before class, print the sentence strips. These are saved under Pigs.True or False.docx. There are 11 statements.
  2. Draw a line down the center of the board. Write “true” on one side of the line and “false” on the other.
  3. Clarify the definitions of these two words and let the students know that they will be learning about pigs. They will be identifying statements as either true or false.
  4. Before reading the book, Pigs by Gail Gibbons, read each statement and ask the students if they think the statement would be true or false. Categorize it based on the majority of the students’ opinions.
  5. Read the book, Pigs by Gail Gibbons.
  6. Then review the statements and check to see if they were under the correct heading.
    1. Discuss as you re-categorize. If one was placed incorrectly, talk about what they learned from the book, how they know what is correct now, etc.
    2. The correct answers to the sentence strips are:

A baby pig is called a piglet


Pigs only come in one size and color.

False. There are many sizes and colors (breeds) of pigs

Pigs are very smart. They can be trained to do tricks just like a dog.


Pigs wallow in water or mud to stay cool.


Pigs have very good eyesight.

False. Pigs have poor eyesight, but a very keen sense of smell.

Pigs eat corn, grains, and soybean meal.


All pigs are kept inside barns.

False. Some pigs are kept inside large barns with heating and air conditioning. Other pigs are housed outdoors with shelter from the heat and cold.

A mother pig has between 3 and 5 piglets in every litter.

False. There are typically 6-12

Pigs grow very quickly. They will weigh over 200 pounds when they are 6 months old.


Most pigs are raised for their meat.


If you visit a fair, you will not see pigs.

False. Most fairs have pigs along with many other farm animals.

Part 2: Careers:

  1. Ask your students what a farmer is. Do all farmers do the same things? Ask your students to name some of the jobs that farmers do each day. Compile a list on the board.
  2. Help students recognize that farmers grow and raise plants and animals that provide food for us to eat and clothing to wear. There are many kinds of farmers. Ask your students what it would be like to be a pig farmer. Help them understand that they must be very knowledgeable of pigs and be capable of feeding and caring for them properly to keep them healthy and happy.
  3. Lead the discussion to what students need to be happy and healthy. Ask them who makes sure they have those things (food, clothing, and shelter). Point out that farmers are the ones who make sure of that for animals.
  4. Help prepare the students for the FarmChat®
    1. Talk about good questions to ask, what they may or may not see, and ask them what they would like to learn from visiting with the farmer.
    2. I f you are not doing a FarmChat® and will watch a video instead, prepare the students for the video. Ask them what they hope to learn from that.
  5. Connect to the FarmChat® or video.
  6. After the segment, return to the list you compiled on the board. Are these assumptions all correct? What else do they do?
  7. Wrap up by writing a letter to a pig farmer
    1. Have the students recall at least two things they learned about pig farming. Have them use connecting words like “then,” “next,” and “after that.”
    2. If a FarmChat® program was used, have them say thank you, and send the letters on to the farmer.
    3. If a FarmChat® program was not used, try to find a pig farmer in the area they can correspond with. Extension or Ag in the Classroom contacts should be able to assist with this.

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

Did you know? (Ag facts):

  • Iowa raises more pigs than any other state in the nation!
  • Pigs eat lots of Iowa corn and soybeans, and in turn provide manure that helps fertilize those fields.

Extension Activities:

  • Scavenger Hunt activity: Explain that pigs provide many things for humans. Next, conduct a scavenger hunt with your students to find Pork Product Cards that are hidden throughout the classroom. Choose one student at a time to find a card, then discuss the card and place it on the board. Some suggested products are:
    • Bacon: Thin slices of pork that has been cured to add flavor.
    • Sausage: Ground up pork meat with added spices.
    • Ham: Cured pork that is popular for Christmas, Easter or other family gatherings. It is also a popular sandwich meat.
    • Canadian Bacon: Cured pork meat. Your students may recognize it as part of a Hawaiian style pizza.
    • Pork Chops: A fresh (not cured) cut of pork popular for grilling.
    • Cosmetics, Gelatin, Crayons, and Chalk: These products from pigs are considered byproducts or secondary products. After the meat is harvested from a pig, the non-meat portions of the pig are used to make products such as these. Little to none of the pig is wasted or thrown away.
    • Insulin: The first insulin produced for humans with diabetes came from pigs (and cows). Pork insulin is no longer used for humans in the United States, but it can be used to make insulin for pets with diabetes.
    • Heart Valves: Pigs are very valuable to medical science. A pig's circulatory system is very similar to a human circulatory system. Pigs help in medical research to learn more about treatments for heart diseases in humans. A pig's heart valve can actually be transplanted into a human whose heart valve has failed. Pig heart valves have saved many lives.
  • Careers activity: Have students interview their parents or guardians about their careers. Have them ask what their jobs include, and how that fits into society (producer vs. consumer, etc.). Have them write a paragraph summarizing what they learned.
  • Poster activity: Work with local FFA students to create a pork promotion poster competition. Each student in the class should create a poster using the facts learned through the true or false activity. Then, FFA students can come through and judge the posters based on key things like information present, creativity, and visual appeal. A local Pork Producers group may be willing to donate a small prize for the winner.



National Agriculture in the Classroom:


Georgia Miller            

Organization Affiliation:

East Union Schools  

National Agriculture Literacy Outcomes:

  • Plants and Animals for Food, Fiber & Energy Outcomes T2.K-2
    • a. Explain how farmers/ranchers work with the lifecycle of plants and animals
    • (planting/breeding) to harvest a crop
    • b. Identify animals involved in agricultural production and their uses (i.e., work,
    • meat, dairy, eggs)
    • c. Identify examples of feed/food products eaten by animals and people
    • e. Identify the importance of natural resources (e.g., sun, soil, water, minerals) in
    • farming
  • Food, Health, and Lifestyle Outcomes T3.K-2
    • a. Identify healthy food options
    • b. Recognize that agriculture provides our most basic necessities: food, fiber (fabric
    • or clothing), energy, and shelter
  • Culture, Society, Economy & Geography Outcomes T5.K-2
    • a. Discuss what a farmer does.
    • b. Explain why farming is important to communities.
    • c. Identify places and methods of exchange for agricultural products in the
    • local area.
  • Agriculture and the Environment T1.K-2
    • a. Describe how farmers use land to grow crops and support livestock

Iowa Core Standards:

  • English Language Arts:
    • RI.1.2: Identify the main topic and retell key details of a text.
    • W.1.2: Write informative/explanatory texts in which they name a topic, supply some facts about the topic, and provide some sense of closure.
    • 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.
    • W.1.8: With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.
  • Iowa Core Science Standards:
    • 1-LS3-1: Make observations to construct an evidence-based account that young plants and animals are like, but not exactly like, their parents.

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