Target Grade Level / Age Range:

3rd-5th Grade

Estimated Time:

1 hour


Students discover that pizza ingredients are made from plants and animals raised on farms and identify the natural resources, people, and technology needed to make pizza.  


Interest approach: 

  • A pizza with a few different toppings (optional)
  • Paper plates or napkins (optional)
  • Dry erase board and marker

 Activity 1:

Activity 2:

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


  • 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
  • Goods: Tangible things that are produced, bought or sold, and then consumed.
  • Services: Activities provided by people or businesses.
  • Human resources: People who make up the workforce of a business or industry.
  • Natural resources: Resources created by nature. Natural resources include soil, water, air, and minerals. Plants and animals are often considered natural resources too. 
  • Physical capital: Manmade things used by businesses including buildings, machinery, computers, office supplies, etc. 
  • Livestock: Domesticated animals raised on a farm or other agricultural setting to produce goods such as food and fiber.
  • Crops: Plants that are grown and harvested to produce goods such as food and fiber.
  • Technology: A tool or technique that makes a job easier or more efficient.  

Background – Agricultural Connections

Nearly all pizza ingredients are derived from plants or animals raised on farms. Just like us, plants and animals need natural resources to live. Four primary types of natural resources utilized in agriculture are sun, soil, water, and air.

The sun is a source of energy for all life. Plant leaves capture sunlight to make food, or energy, to grow. Farm animals eat plants. By eating food from plants and animals, the sun gives us energy too.

Soil is essential to growing plants, and Iowa has some of the best soils in the world for growing corn and soybeans – essential feed ingredients for livestock like pigs.  

Water is essential for agriculture. In fact, nearly three-quarters of the world’s freshwater is used to produce the food and fiber products that we need to live. Water is used to irrigate crops, water livestock, clean buildings and equipment, and process plants and animal products into the final food and fiber products.

Plants, animals, and people need clean air to live. Animals and people breathe in oxygen that plants release. Plants take in carbon dioxide that animals and people breathe out. Pig barns are well ventilated. They have automated fans and windows to keep fresh air moving through the barn. 

Human resources are essential to agriculture too. A farm is rarely operated by one person. Depending on the size of the pig farm, the owner may utilize a few family members or many employees to help manage the business, care for the pigs, maintain the buildings and equipment, and do other work on the farm. 

Physical capital on farms include tractors, machinery, barns, pens, heating and cooling systems, computers, feed storage bins, etc. These things are expensive but necessary investments. Buildings, equipment, and technology farmers use are often designed for a certain size of animal or type of crop. If farmers raise livestock, they usually raise one type or even specialize in one stage of the growth cycle. This enables them to invest in the facilities, equipment, and technology needed to produce it and produce it well.  

Interest Approach – Engagement

Option 1: Tell students they are going to sample a pizza and use their senses to determine what kind it is. Give each student a small slice of pizza. First ask them to look at and smell the pizza to identify the toppings and other ingredients. After recording their observations, let them eat the pizza. When they are finished, ask them to add to or change their list and then tell them what kind of pizza it was. List all of the toppings and other ingredients on the board.

Option 2: Ask students to identify their favorite pizza toppings. List them on the board. 


Activity 1: Pizza Ingredients (20 minutes)

  1. If you used option 1 for the interest approach, ask students their favorite pizza toppings and add them to the list.
  2. Ask students if they have ever made pizza crust and sauce from scratch? If so, what ingredients did they use? Add these to the class list.   
  3. Watch Learn How Pizza is Made, Ask students to write down the ingredients used as they watch the video. After the video is finished, add any new ingredients from the video to the class list.
  4. Next, ask the students where all of these ingredients for pizza come from. Explain that almost all pizza ingredients are made from plants or animals raised on farms. The only exception to this is yeast and water. Water is a natural resource that is collected and filtered. Yeast is a living microorganism made up of a single cell. Yeast grows and multiplies when it is in the right conditions and has sugar to feed on.  Yeast for baking is grown in large quantities by yeast manufacturers under controlled conditions.
  5. Work together as a class to identify the plant or animal needed for each pizza ingredient. Write it next to the ingredient on the board. 
    1. Meat: Pepperoni, ham & sausage – pork from pigs. Hamburger – beef from cattle. 
    2. Crust: Flour from wheat kernels. Olive oil from olives. Sugar from sugar cane or sugar beets.
    3. Sauce: Tomatoes. Basil, oregano and other herbs from plants. Garlic. Onions.  
    4. Other toppings: Pineapple. Peppers. Mushrooms. Green or black olives.
  6.  Remind the students that pizza ingredients, and all food, are examples of goods. Goods are tangible things that are produced, bought or sold, and then consumed. All food and other goods utilize resources. Farmers utilize many resources (water, feed, buildings, people, etc.) to raise plants and animals. Processing plants use resources (machines, people, water, etc.) to turn the plants and animals into pizza toppings. Pizza companies and restaurants use resources (people, cooking equipment, electricity, etc) to turn the ingredients into pizza.
  7. Explain that there are three types of resources: natural resources, human resources, and physical capital. Briefly explain the types of resource and ask the class to list a few examples of each.    
    1. Soil, sun, water and air are examples of natural resources. Seeds, plants, and animals are also natural resources.
    2. Human resources are people who work at farms, processing plants, grocery stores, and restaurants. They also include people from outside companies who work with farmers and businesses. This includes veterinarians, engineers who design equipment, sales representatives, bankers, and marketing specialists.   
    3. Physical capital is manmade things used by businesses. Examples include buildings, machinery, computers, cooking equipment, etc.
  8. Divide the class into teams of 2-3 and assign each group a pizza ingredient. Ask students to work as a team to write down at least three natural resources, human resources (people), and physical capital (things) that are needed to produce their assigned ingredient. Examples include:
    1. Pork
      1. Natural Resources: pigs, water, air, corn and soybeans (feed ingredients), sun and soil to grow the corn and soybeans,
      2. Human Resources: pork farmer, truck driver, pork processing plant worker, etc.   
      3. Physical capital/things:  pig barn, pig feeders, gates in the barn, truck to haul the pigs, pork processing building, knives and meat processing machines, coolers and freezers, etc.
    2. Cheese
      1. Natural Resources: dairy cows, water, air, corn, soybeans & alfalfa (feed ingredients), sun and soil to grow the feed ingredients. 
      2. Human Resources: Dairy farm manager, dairy farm worker, veterinarian, milk truck driver, cheese plant worker, cheese truck driver,   
      3. Physical capital: cattle barn, fences & gates, milking machine, cheese making equipment, cheese bags & boxes, etc.
    3. Peppers
      1. Natural Resources: seeds/seedlings, sun, soil, water, air
      2.  Human Resources seed/plant salesperson, vegetable farmer, truck driver, people to wash and package the peppers, etc.
      3. Physical Capital: tractor, irrigation equipment, truck, cleaning equipment, boxes, etc.  

Activity 2:  Technology (40 minutes)

  1. Ask students, “What is technology?” and have them provide examples of technology at home or at school. If they only list electronic devices and machines, ask if they can name an example that does not use electricity, a battery, or fuel. 
  2. Explain that technology is anything that makes a job easier or more efficient.
    1. Technology can be as simple as a toothbrush, spoon, or dry erase board, or it can be as complex as a smartwatch or an electric car.
    2. Sometimes simple tools are well suited for a job. If the job is bigger, a small machine might help complete the job faster. Large, complex. and even automated machines are best suited to large or very labor-intensive tasks. For example, a knife would be sufficient for slicing one onion at home. If I needed to slice six onions, I would probably choose to use my hand-held vegetable slicer or even an electric food processer. If I worked at a company that made frozen onion rings, a large industrial slicing machine would slice many onions at once. Instead of doing the slicing myself, my role would likely be to monitor the machine to ensure that it is working properly and the slices are uniform.  
  3. Technology is an example of a physical capital resource. Investing in technology can reduce the amount of human resources needed to complete a task. In the onion example, the different slicers enabled me to save time or human resources needed to do the job.
  4. Investing in technology can also help conserve or protect natural resources.
    1. A high-efficiency washing machine uses less water than a traditional washer.
    2. A drip irrigation system reduces the amount of water needed to water crops.  
    3. Electric cars use less fuel and reduce CO2 immersions, which improves air quality. 
    4. In the next lesson, we will learn several ways that farmers use technology to conserve top soil and improve water quality. 
  5. Watch the pizza Learn How Pizza is Made video again, and have students write down the tasks that were made easier by technology. Remember that technology does not have to use electricity.
    1. After the video, discuss how technology made making pizza easier at the restaurant. Examples of technology in the video includes the dough mixer, cheese shredder, spatula, knife, refrigerator, rolling pin, oven
    2. Were any tasks done by hand? Why do you think these tasks were done by hand?
      1. Tasks done by hand include rolling the pizza dough, assembling the pizza, and cutting the pizza.
      2. Reasons for doing them by hand could include: The owner likes the look and texture that rolling dough by hand gives. The cost of a dough rolling machine is too high. Pizzas need to be assembled when they are ordered, so it is easiest to do it by hand.   
  6. Next, let’s see how frozen pizza is made. Play the How It’s Made – Frozen Pizza video. Ask students to pay close attention to the role of machines and people in the video.   
  7. Now compare the two videos. How was the process of making pizza different and similar in the restaurant vs. the frozen pizza company?
    1. What new technology was used? (larger mixer, chunking machine, dough rolling machine, cutting machine, conveyor, oven with conveyer, sauce machine, larger shredder, cheese output machine, meat applicator, scale, blast cell freezer, wrapping machine, quality control machine, etc.) 
    2. Did you notice any similarities in the technology used? (The dough mixer and cheese shredder are similar to but bigger than the ones used at the restaurant.) 
    3. Were the jobs people did differently? (Yes. People touched the pizza less. Instead, they mostly monitored the equipment.) monitored What jobs were the same? (Adding the dough ingredients.)

Did you know? (Ag facts)

  • On any given day, one in eight Americans will eat pizza. 1
  • Farm and ranch families comprise less than 2% of the U.S. population. 1
  • Of the 10% of disposable income Americans spend on food each year, 46% is for food eaten at home and 54% is for food eaten away from home. 1
  • One U.S. farm feeds 166 people annually in the U.S. and abroad. 1

Extension Activities

Suggested Companion Resources


  • Part of this lesson was adapted from activities in the Pizz-a-Thon Facilitators Guide created by Eldon Weber with support from Iowa State University.
  • 1 Fast Facts About Agriculture & Food, American Farm Bureau


Cindy Hall

Organization Affiliation  

Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation 

Agriculture Literacy Outcomes

  • T1.3-5.b. Explain how the interaction of the sun, soil, water, and weather in plant and animal growth impacts agricultural production
  • T1.3-5.e. Recognize the natural resources used in agricultural practices to produce food, feed, clothing, landscaping plants, and fuel (e.g., soil, water, air, plants, animals, and minerals)
  • T4.3-5.b Describe how technology helps farmers/ranchers increase their outputs (crop and livestock yields) with fewer inputs (less water, fertilizer, and land) while using the same amount of space 

Iowa Core Standards

  • Science
    • 3-5-ETS1-2. Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  • Social Studies
    • SS.3.13. Identify how people use natural resources, human resources, and physical capital to produce goods and services.
    • SS.4.25. Analyze the impact of technological changes in Iowa, across time and place.
  • English Language Arts
    • SL.3.1, SL4.1, SL5.1. Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
    • SL4.1, 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.
    • SL5.1. Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 6 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.