The Adventures of Flat Aggie

The Adventures of Flat Aggie

Target Grade Level / Age Range

2nd Grade

Estimated Time

One, 1-hour lesson, then one, 1-hour lesson a month.

Purpose

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  1. understand how and where their food is produced.
  2. help compile a farm report summary.
  3. correspond with farmers that Flat Aggie visits.

Materials

  • Flat Aggie Template (one per student)
  • Map of the U.S.  
  • Colored pencils or crayons
  • Scissors
  • Index Cards
  • Bulletin Board and Pins

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

  1. How Did That Get in My Lunchbox?: The Story of Food by Chris Butterworth
  2. Companion videos/resources as needed based on farms visited
  3. Flat Aggie Template
  4. Map of the U.S.
  5. Parent Letter
  6. Farm Report
  7. Flat Aggie Farmer Information

Vocabulary

  • Agriculture – the science or practice of farming, including the cultivation of the soil for the growing of crops and the rearing of animals to provide food, wool, and other products.
  • Produce – products that have been created or grown.
  • Crops –  a cultivated plant that is grown as food, especially a grain, fruit, or vegetable.
  • Livestock – animals kept or raised especially on a farm for profit.
  • Transport – take or carry (people or goods) from one place to another by means of a vehicle, aircraft, or ship.

Background – Agricultural Connections

Everything you buy from a store that is used for food, fiber, or fuel comes from agriculture. Farmers work very hard to provide safe, quality products for consumers to buy. Today, most farmers specialize in the crops they produce so they can grow the best product that they can.  

Iowa farmers produce four main commodities- corn, soybeans, pork, and eggs. Many of those products are used in items we use every day! Farmers also produce other crops and livestock in Iowa, but they mostly produce corn, soybeans, pork, and eggs.  

Most of the corn grown in Iowa is field dent corn. Field corn is not like sweet corn or popcorn! Field corn is mainly used to make ethanol and fed to livestock, but it also helps make more than 4,000 products we use every day. Each part of the corn plant has a purpose. Corn grits can be used to make snack foods, breakfast cereals, cornbread, and even pet food. Corn flour is used in bakery products, batters, pie fillings, and salad dressings. Corn flour has industrial uses as well. It can be made into label adhesives and pharmaceuticals. The oil in corn can make cooking oil, margarine, and shortenings. Corn is even used to make fuel to power your car called ethanol.  

Iowa is the country’s second-highest soybean producing state. Soybeans can provide many uses as food, fiber, and fuel. Whole soybeans can be used to make soymilk, tofu, and edamame. Soybeans can also be used in desserts, candies, and cooking oils. There are industrial uses for soybeans as well. They are used to make soaps and detergents, lubricants, and cosmetics. They even help power vehicles by making fuel called biodiesel.  

Iowa raises a lot of pigs. In fact, Iowa produces more pigs than any other state. There are nearly 22.8 million hogs in the state. Iowa is a great place to raise livestock because the food they need to eat is produced right here. Pigs eat a complete feed ration made of corn and soybean meal. It is a lot more cost-efficient to raise the pigs in the same area their food is produced instead of having to transport the feed to the pigs in another place.  

Chickens also contribute to Iowa’s agricultural economy. Nearly 16 billion eggs are produced annually. A percentage of the eggs that were produced were furthered processed into liquid or dried eggs, exported, or sold as shelled eggs.  

Farmers work diligently to provide a safe and wholesome product for consumers. It is important for students to understand that most everything they use comes from agriculture.

Interest Approach – Engagement

  1. Have students write down their favorite food and list where they think that item comes from on a sheet of paper. 
  2. Read the story, How Did That Get in My Lunchbox?: The Story of Food, by Chris Butterworth.  

Procedures

  1. Give each student an index card. Instruct students to write down their top five favorite foods and list where they think that food item comes from. *Have student list where they think the ingredients come from if it is a food item with multiple ingredients.
  2. Read How Did That Get in My Lunchbox?: The Story of Food, by Chris Butterworth.
  3. After reading the story, introduce Flat Stanley’s cousin, Flat Aggie.
  4. Explain that Flat Aggie is going to help the class learn how their food is produced by visiting farmers. Farmers will send pictures and report on what is going on at their farms to the class.
  5. Each student will color their own Flat Aggie, using the Flat Aggie Template. The instructor should create one Flat Aggie beforehand or have a group of students work together to create one for the class. This will be the Flat Aggie that is sent to the farmer.
  6. Review the student’s list of favorite foods. Are there any farms that produce those products (or ingredients of those products) near you? Compile a class list of farms/ foods that the students want Flat Aggie to visit.
  7. Send a Parent Letter home to families explaining the Flat Aggie project and asking for their help. Also, reach out to your local Farm Bureau if you need help finding farmers to contact. Take it to social media to help find hosts for Flat Aggie. If you are interested in sending your Flat Aggie out of state and need help finding a host, a state Agriculture in the Classroom contact will be able to help. You can find a list of state contacts here: https://agclassroom.org/affiliates/contacts.cfm.
  8. Arrange travel plans. Scan the class Flat Aggie template and email the file to the farmer. Ask the farmer to print a copy of the Flat Aggie template on an 8x11 piece of paper, then cut it out, then Flat Aggie will be ready to go to work with them on the farm. This will limit the amount of travel time between farm visits. Attach a Farm Report document so the farmer can complete the form to report back to students about Flat Aggie’s adventures at the farm. *If the farmer would rather mail Flat Aggie and the supporting documents back, provide an envelope and stamp for the farmer to return the documents to the class.
  9. The farmer will return the Farm Report and photos of Flat Aggie helping on the farm to the teacher via email.
  10. Pin a copy of a large Iowa map on a bulletin board. Place a pin on the map where Flat Aggie traveled. Have students determine how far Flat Aggie traveled from the school to the farm.  Make sure to include this distance in the Class Farm Report summary.
  11. Use the farm descriptions and images from the farmer to work as a class to create a Class Farm Report Summary. Add the summary to the bulletin board explaining Flat Aggie’s adventures on the farm.
  12. Continue sending Flat Aggie to different farms as time allows.
  13.  Write a thank you letter to the farmer who hosted Flat Aggie. Practice using proper letter writing format as well as how to properly address an envelope.

Did You Know? (Ag facts)

  • A typical ear of corn has 800 kernels.
  • The average Iowa soybean farmer produces enough grain each year to nourish 60,000 people.
  • Iowa farmers are responsible for producing about 1 in 5 eggs consumed in the United States each year.
  • Nearly one-third of the nation’s hogs are raised in Iowa.

Extension Activities

  • Complete a FarmChat® with a farmer that Flat Aggie visited. This way, students can go on a virtual field trip and see what Flat Aggie did on his/her visit.
  • Link for FarmChat® – https://www.iowaagliteracy.org/Tools-Resources/Other/FarmChat
  • Invite a farmer into the classroom to see what students have done with Flat Aggie throughout the year. Let the farmer share more information about their farming operation and allow students to ask questions.
  • Send Flat Aggie to an agribusiness that students are interested in.
  • Send Flat Aggie to visit agriculture in another state.

Suggested Companion Resources (books and websites)

  • How Did That Get in My Lunchbox?: The Story of Food by Chris Butterworth

Sources/Credits

Author(s)

Laura Mincks

Naomi Gretter

Organization Affiliation

Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation

Keota Community School District  

Agriculture Literacy Outcomes

  • T2.K-2.a. Explain how farmers/ranchers work with the lifecycle of plants and animals (planting/breeding) to harvest a crop.
  • T2.K-2.e. Identify the importance of natural resources (sun, soil, water, minerals) in farming.
  • T5.K-2.b. Explain why farming is important to communities.
  • T5.K-2.a. Discuss what a farmer does.
  • T1.K-2.a. Describe how farmers/ranchers use land to grow crops and support livestock.
  • T5.K-2.f. Trace the sources of agricultural products (plant or animal) used daily. 

Iowa Core Standards

  • SS.2.12. Identify how people use natural resources to produce goods and services.
  • SS.2.16. Using maps, globes, and other simple geographic models, evaluate routes for people or goods that consider environmental characteristics.
  • 2-LS4-1. Make an observation of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats. 

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