Target Grade Level / Age Range:

Grades 2-3

Note: This lesson is best for the end of 2nd grade or the beginning of 3rd grade.

Estimated Time:

30 minutes

Virtual Learning

Use this document to convert the lesson into a virtual learning module for your students. Use the steps outlined to create the different elements of a Google Classroom or other online learning platform. You can also send the steps directly to students in a PDF, present them in a virtual meeting, or plug them into any other virtual learning module system.


Students will understand that farmers and other people in agriculture use math in their jobs.


  • Story problems worksheet for each student
  • 10 frames, 100 charts or other math manipulatives

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


  • Agriculture – Everything involved in growing plants and animals to be used for food, fiber, and fuel. It includes production, processing, marketing, and transportation of farm products, research to improve plant and animal genetics, and the design and sales of buildings, equipment, and other things farmers use. 
  • Acre – a unit of area used to measure fields, pastures, and other land. An acre is about the size of a football field.
  • Bushel – a unit of volume used to measure grain.
  • Dairy cattle – Breeds selected for their ability to produce large volumes of milk.  Common dairy breeds include Holstein, Jersey, and Brown Swiss.
  • Beef cattle – Cattle raised to produce meat.  Common beef cattle breeds include Angus, Herford, and Charolais.  
  • Milking parlor – The place on a dairy farm where cows go to be milked with milking machines.  

Pasture – A plot of land where grazing animals, like cows, live and eat.  It is covered with grass, alfalfa, or other plants. 

Background – Agricultural Connections

Farmers use math every day. They use math to determine the amount of seed they need to plant their crop and how much it will cost. They use math to decide what tractors and equipment to purchase and make payments. Farmers keep track of things like how much their livestock weighs, how much milk their cows produce, and their crop yield per acre, etc.

Interest Approach – Engagement

Ask students these questions and engage in discussion about how farmers use math:

  • What is agriculture? Everything related to growing plants and animals to be used for something else (food, fiber, and fuel)
  • What are some jobs in agriculture?  Farmer, veterinarian, animal nutritionist, diesel mechanic, agriculture engineer, plant scientist, seed or equipment sales rep, agronomist, etc. 
  • How does a farmer use math?

How might some of the other jobs in agriculture that you came up with use math?


  1. Explain that farmers and others who work in agriculture use math every day.  Today they are going to practice their math skills by doing some story problems about farms and agriculture.
    • Review the list of vocabulary with students.
    • Discuss what each word means so that students have an understanding when they read the word problems.
  2. Distribute the math worksheet to students. Give them time to work on the problems independently and encourage them to use math manipulatives and strategies they are familiar with.     
  3. Next, pair the students up to compare their answers and how they arrived at each answer. Then review each problem as a class.
  4. Finally, have students interview their parents to learn about the type of math they do at home or at work. During the next day, have students share one example of the everyday math applications to the class.  

    Did you know? (Ag facts)

  • There are over 70 breeds of cattle. 
  • 2% of Americans are involved in production agriculture.
  • There are over 200 careers in agriculture.
  • More than 97% of Iowa farms are owned by families.

Extension Activities

  • Invite a farmer to your classroom to discuss how they use math. 

Suggested Companion Resources

  • The My Family’s Farm book series by Katie Olthoff
  • A Day in the Life of a Farmer by Heather Adamson
  • Farm by Elisha cooper



Cindy Hall

Organization Affiliation

Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation

Agriculture Literacy Outcomes

  • Food, Health and Lifestyle Outcomes
    • Recognize that agriculture provides our most basic necessities: food, fiber (fabric or clothing), energy, and shelter
  • Culture, Society, Economy & Geography Outcomes
    • Discuss what a farmer does.
    • Discover that there are many jobs in agriculture

Iowa Core Standards


  • 2.NBT.B.5. Fluently add and subtract within 100 using strategies based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction. (2.NBT.B.5) (DOK 1,2)
  • 2.NBT.B.6. Add up to four two-digit numbers using strategies based on place value and properties of operations.
  • Add and subtract within 1000, using concrete models or drawings and strategies based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction; relate the strategy to a written method. Understand that in adding or subtracting three-digit numbers, one adds or subtracts hundreds and hundreds, tens and tens, ones and ones; and sometimes it is necessary to compose or decompose tens or hundreds.
  • 2.MD.B.5. Use addition and subtraction within 100 to solve word problems involving lengths that are given in the same units, e.g., by using drawings (such as drawings of rulers) and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem. 
  • 2.MD.C.8. Solve word problems involving dollar bills, quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies, using $ and ¢ symbols appropriately.
  • 2.MD.C (DOK2) Describe the relationship among standard units of time: minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years.
  • 2.G.A.2. Partition a rectangle into rows and columns of same-size squares and count to find the total number of them.
  • 3.0A.D.8. Solve two-step word problems using the four operations. Represent these problems using equations with a letter standing for the unknown quantity. Assess the reasonableness of answers using mental computation and estimation strategies including rounding.