Target Grade Level / Age Range:

3 rd-5 th grades


45 minutes


Students will be introduced to the basics of agriculture through exploring books.


  • Brown paper bags labeled: Holstein, Jersey, Guernsey, and Brown Swiss.
  • Books:
    • Who Grew My Soup? By Tom Darbyshire
    • How Did that Get in My Lunchbox? by Chris Butterworth
    • The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen by Diana Pritchard
    • All in Just One Cookie by Susan E. Goodman

Suggested Companion Resources (books, websites, etc.)

Vocabulary (with definitions)

  • Predict: To make an educated guess using the information you have learned. 
  • Agriculture: the raising and utilization of plants and animals for food, fiber, and fuel

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

Agriculture is the source of many of the things we use every day. Corn and soybeans are used to fuel our cars and trucks. Cotton is used to make blue jeans to wear. Farmers all over the world work hard to produce everything we eat – from vegetables and fruits to grains and meat!

However, there are many more jobs in agriculture than just that of a farmer. Veterinarians, agronomists, food scientists, dieticians, truck drivers and grocery store managers are all a part of the puzzle that gets products from the farm to the grocery store eventually to the consumer.

Interest Approach or Motivator: 

Write the word “agriculture” on a piece of chart paper or a white board. Ask students to silently write 3-4 things that come to mind with that word. Then, ask students to share their thoughts on the word. Some discussion questions could include:

  • What is agriculture?
  • Why is it important?
  • What are some careers in agriculture?
  • Who benefits from agriculture?
  • What are some products of agriculture?
  • Record responses on the chart paper or white board.

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

  1. Label four large brown grocery bags with one of the four books inside each.
  2. Before students enter the room, place the bags in the four corners of the room.
  3. Divide students into four groups FARMERS, VETERINARIANS, FOOD SCIENTISTS, and ENGINEERS.  Assign each group a bag.    
  4. Give students 5-10 minutes to read the book aloud and discuss it in their groups. Groups will choose a leader of their group to be a spokesperson and together they will think of 3 or 4 clues to give the class about the book hidden in the bag.  Each student should think of a clue.
    1. Clues could hint at the title of the book or the content. For Who Grew My Soup, example clues could be:
      1. It’s a food you eat with a spoon.
      2. It contains vegetables.
      3. Farmers help produce this product.
      4. This food is often eaten when people are sick.
      5. The book talks about the people who grow the food.
  5. Bring the class together in the center of the room.  Each group will give clues about the book in their bag and the remaining students will guess what the book is about. The spokesperson is in charge of calling on students and giving each person in their group a chance to voice their clue.
    1. Audience members should take turns guessing what the book is about. Each book is about agriculture and where food comes from.
  6. After the audience guesses the topic of their book, the group members should give the class a 1-2 minute summary of the book and what they learned from it.
  7. Each team will participate until all books have been guessed and reviewed. Students will return to their seats and give the books back to the teacher.
  8. Ask students if they have any guesses as to what their groups were named after. Some students may be familiar with these careers. Ask students if they can describe the jobs these people do. Are there any other careers in agriculture?
  9. Revisit the list of student responses to the word “agriculture.” What have students learned from their books and presentations that can be added to make a complete list?


Shari Davis

Kelsey Faivre, IALF

National Agriculture Literacy Outcomes

  • Culture, Society, Economy & Geography Outcomes:
    • Explain the value of agriculture and how it is important in daily life
    • Discover that there are many jobs in agriculture

Iowa Core Standards

  • Literacy
    • SL.4.2 Paraphrase portions of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
    • SL.4.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one–on–one, in groups, and teacher–led) with diverse partners on grade 4 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
    • SL.4.4 Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.
    • 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.
  • 21 st Century Skills
    • 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
    • 21.3–5.ES.3 Essential Concept and/or Skill: Practice leadership skills, and demonstrate integrity, ethical behavior, and social responsibility in all activities.
  • Social Studies:
    • SS.3.13. Identify how people use natural resources, human resources, and physical capital to produce goods and services.
    • SS.4.17. Create a geographic representation to illustrate how the natural resources in an area affect the decisions people make.
    • SS.4.25. Analyze the impact of technological changes in Iowa, across time and place.
    • SS.5.13. Describe how goods and services are produced and distributed domestically and globally.

Creative Commons License

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