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Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom

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Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix


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Lesson Plans (22)
Corn an A-maizing Plant: Food, Fuel, and Plastic

Students examine the growth, composition, history, and uses of corn through a close reading activity, discussion of renewable and non-renewable resources, and hands-on exploration of bioplastics made from corn.

Counting Sheep or People? Census 2020

Students explore the Census of 2020 by making a connection between shepherds counting their sheep and counting the population of the United States.

Energy and Biofuels (Grades 6-8)

Students explore the process of fermentation in the creation of ethanol and observe the role enzymes play in the fermentation of starch.

Energy and Biofuels (Grades 9-12)

Through a series of activities, students explore fermentation and ethanol production, observe the role of enzymes in fermentation, analyze nutrient values of dent corn, and discover how biofuels are made from plant oils.

Evaluating GMO Perspectives

While many view genetically modified crops as a promising innovation, there is controversy about their use. This lesson provides students with a brief overview of the technology, equipping them with the ability to evaluate the social, environmental, and economic arguments for and against genetically modified crops. This lesson covers a socioscientific issue and aims to provide students with tools to evaluate science within the context of social and economic points of view. 

Fueling Up for a Career in Biofuel

Students will recognize the importance of fuel energy and the fact that agriculture can produce biofuel; students will identify career opportunities in the biofuel industry.

Get Popping!

Students discover how popcorn is grown and explore the phenomenon of how popcorn pops.

Growing America

Students determine corn anatomy and function of plant parts, identify stages of plant development in corn, and research how temperature plays a role in corn growth as they calculate growing degree units (GDUs) for a region.

Herbs and Spices of the World

In this lesson students will recognize the difference between a spice and herb, learn how herbs and spices are grown on farms around the world, and participate in a culinary challenge to season popcorn for various cultural cuisines.

Inherited Traits in the Living Corn Necklace (Grades 3-5)

Students observe the growth of Indian corn and popcorn seeds, observe similarities and differences between the two varieties, and discuss heredity.

Inherited Traits in the Living Corn Necklace (Grades 6-8)

Students will observe the growth of Indian corn and popcorn seeds, observe similarities and differences between the two varieties, and discuss heredity.

Pests and Pesticides in Agriculture

Students identify categories of pests including vertebrates, invertebrates, weeds, or disease and discover how pests affect the growth of crops and how integrated pest management (IPM) is used to control pests.

Plant Nutrient Deficiencies (Grades 6-8)

Students discuss the definition of “fertilizer” and relate it to plant nutrition and the need to restore nutrient balance in agricultural soils. They discuss how people and crops can suffer from nutrient deficiencies. Students assume the roles of plant doctors and diagnose nutrient deficiencies in corn plants.

Serious Cereal Science

Students will develop an appreciation for the extensive materials and career fields provided by agriculture, specifically as related to cereal grain production, processing, and consumption. Activities include playing a game in which students become agronomy specialists, mapping the top grain-producing states, and watching videos about careers related to grain production.

Soil and Sustainability (Grades 9-12)

Students observe soil ecosystems to investigate how human impact affects the biodiversity of soils using the Simpson's Index of Diversity. Then, students conduct an investigation using field corn to determine how the introduction of nitrogen fertilizers impact soil microorganisms and biodiversity.

The Columbian Exchange of Old and New World Foods (Grades 3-5)

Students explore New World and Old World food origins to understand how the Columbian Exchange altered people’s lives worldwide.

The Columbian Exchange of Old and New World Foods (Grades 6-8)

Students will explore New World and Old World food origins to understand how the Columbian Exchange altered people’s lives worldwide.  

The Columbian Exchange of Old and New World Foods (Grades 9-12)

Students will explore New World and Old World food origins to understand how the Columbian Exchange altered people’s lives worldwide.  

The QUEST for the Whole Enchilada

This lesson utilizes a process learning model to recognize how the Columbian Exchange and early Spanish explorers impacted the culture and cuisine of the Southwest United States. Students will participate in a food lab to make enchiladas and learn about the production of each ingredient.

Three Sisters Garden

Students investigate the "three sisters" crops (corn, beans, and squash) and explore the benefits of planting these crops together.

Wheat: Ancient and Ageless

Students will explore the importance of wheat in the development of culture by learning about the advent of agriculture, discussing wheat cultivation in ancient Egypt, threshing a head of wheat with their hands, and making a corn dolly out of wheat stems.

Where Does It Come From?

Students explore the connection between geography, climate, and the type of agriculture in an area by reading background information and census data about the agricultural commodities beef, potatoes, apples, wheat, corn, and milk.

Companion Resources (64)
Activity
Wheat Weaving: How to Make a Corn Dolly
Students will learn about the history of weaving with straw and make their own woven wheat ornaments, traditionally known as "corn dollies." The art of weaving with wheat stems (straw) is practically as old as wheat itself. Traditionally, corn dollies were made using the last stems of harvested grain. Wheat was most common, but oats, rye, barley, and corn were also used. The woven ornaments with the heads of grain still on the stem were hung on inside walls where they made it safely through the winter. These sacred grains were then planted the next season to ensure the fertility of the entire crop.
Book
A True Book: Corn
This book takes a thorough look at corn, providing high quality information in both text and image. It provides a comprehensive overview of types of corn and their uses, how and where corn grows, the history of corn, and the uses of corn for food and more. The text and photos describe how corn is used in both food and non-food items. A section on corn breeding and the use of corn in creating renewable fuels and biodegradable plastics is also included. The book ends with a useful glossary.
Carlos and the Cornfield
This dual-language (Spanish and English) book tells the story of Carlos whose father offers him a little money if he will help plant the family's corn field. Carlos takes a shortcut but feels guilty and learns the meaning of the phrase 'cosechas lo que siembras'--you reap what you sow. This engaging story illustrates the simple life of a farming family and underscores the importance of hard work and honesty. 
Combines: with Casey & Friends
Combines introduces children to the world of modern farm equipment- showing how the most complex machines on the farm work to harvest crops. This book is filled with colorful action photographs, fun illustrations and a cast of cartoon equipment characters. Students can follow the timeline of harvesting equipment from the sickle to the mechanical reaper, international harvester, and eventually the modern-day combine. As a companion to lessons on grain crops such as corn and wheat, students will learn the process of harvesting these crops.
Corn
Perennial nonfiction favorite Gail Gibbons turns her spotlight on corn. Popcorn, corn on the cob, corn dogs, cornflakes - corn is used in many children's favorite foods. This book offers a cornucopia of information about the history of corn as well as details concerning planting, cultivation, harvesting, and its many uses.
Corn in the Story of Agriculture
This book introduces readers to the five stages of corn as it makes its way from farm to table; production, processing, distribution, marketing and consumerism. Each stage is presented in an easy-to ready chapter that includes graphs and colorful pictures. Full of vocabulary, fun facts and corn activity ideas.
Farms Feed the World
A simple introduction to the beauty and variety of farms from a wheat field in Montana to a rice paddy in Indonesia to the harvesting of seaweed from the ocean, to corn, pigs, and wool on farms around the world. Through simple text and stunning photographs, this book shows how farmers provide the world with food and fiber.
Four Seasons of Corn: A Winnebago Tradition
Many Native Americans regard corn as a gift, a food with sacred value. The Winnebago, or Hochunk people, tell a story about a clan leader who saw a spirit called Corn Person in a dream. Corn Person showed the man how to plant, grow, and preserve corn so his people would have food to eat all year. In this photographic essay, twelve-year-old Russell learns the traditions of corn from his grandfather, who is from the Winnebago reservation in Nebraska.
Glorious Grasses: The Grains
This book covers early history, cultivation, processing, and nutritional importance of grains. One chapter is dedicated to each grain, including wheat, rice, corn, millet and barley, and oats and rye. The two-column text reads easily and is full of informative material.
Growing Vegetable Soup
"Dad says we are going to grow vegetable soup." So begins Lois Ehlert’s bright, bold picture book about vegetable gardening for the very young. The necessary tools are pictured and labeled, as are the seeds (green bean, pea, corn, zucchini squash, and carrot). Then the real gardening happens... planting, weeding, harvesting, washing, chopping, and cooking! In the end? "It was the best soup ever." Ehlert’s simple, colorful cut-paper-style illustrations are child-friendly, as is the big black type. A recipe for vegetable soup tops it all off!
Heartland
Here, in their second stunning collaboration, Diane Siebert and Wendell Minor create a joyful, singing celebration of this country's Heartland, the Midwest. It is a land where wheat fields grow and cornfields stretch across the plains to create a patchwork quilt in hues of yellow, green, and brown; a land where herds of cattle graze in pastures draped in lush, green grass, and a newborn calf stands in the sun. And upon this land toils the farmer, strong and proud, whose weathered face tells a tale of a life of work that's never done. The Heartland's a land where, despite man's power, nature reigns.
In the Garden: Who's Been Here
Christina and Jeremy have been sent to the garden to gather vegetables for dinner. But they quickly realize that they are not the first visitors to the garden today. There's a slimy trail on a leaf in the cucumber patch, and some corn kernels have been pecked off the cob. Not only that, someone has been snacking on the lettuce leaves! Christina and Jeremy follow the clues to discover which birds, animals, and insects have been in their garden. Keep your eyes open and join Christina and Jeremy on a scientific journey in their own backyard! 
My Family's Farm Book Series
Learn through the eyes of young farmers how animals are cared for, crops are raised, and renewable resources are used as they take you for a tour of their family's farm. This digital book series includes titles for beef, corn, soybeans, wind (energy), pigs, and apples.
Pick, Pull, Snap! Where Once a Flower Bloomed
In the orchard, a honey bee buzzes. Its legs brush pollen inside a fragrant pink flower. A small green fruit begins to grow and grow and grow...Peaches and peas and even peanuts—they all begin with a single flower. How? Open this book and find out!
Popcorn Country: The Story of America's Favorite Snack
How does a field of corn become a delicious bowl of popcorn? The story behind the fluffy snack the entire country loves is revealed in this photographic nonfiction picture book. Kids love food—and they especially love to eat popcorn! Author Cris Peterson offers an illuminating step-by-step examination of the history and science behind America's favorite snack. With photographs illustrating every stage, readers get a behind-the-scenes view of how popcorn is planted, grown, harvested, processed, tested, and finally shipped to stores and movie theaters all over the world. Back matter delves into the history of popcorn and how it became so popular in the United States.
Popcorn!
Pull up a chair and dig in! Popcorn! is chock-full of tidbits about one of America's favorite snack foods. Learn what makes popcorn pop, how Native Americans liked their popcorn, and how television almost wiped out popcorn's future. Cooking tips, recipes, and resources included.
Step into the Inca World
This book explores the Inca civilization, including information on diet, domestic life, and religious beliefs. Instructions for making crafts that bring the past alive are included throughout. Sections on living on the land, hunting and fishing, food and feasts, and textiles and tunics provide useful information and activities for connecting agriculture and social studies.
The Boy Who Changed the World
This book tells the story of Nobel Laureate, Norman Borlaug.  Norman grew up as an average farm boy in Iowa, but later his work as a plant scientist reached far and wide to help improve the growth of wheat, rice, and corn all over the world.  This book highlights the benefits of emerging science, but also has an underlying message to teach kids that, "Every choice you make, good or bad, can make a difference."
The Popcorn Book
Brothers Tiny and Tony are hungry for a snack, and their mother allows them to make some popcorn. The two boys learn about the history of popcorn in the Americas, how much popcorn is eaten on an annual basis, and methods of popping corn. Two recipes to pop corn are included in this book.
The Story of Food: An Illustrated History of Everything We Eat
This glorious visual celebration of food in all its forms reveals the extraordinary cultural impact of the foods we eat, explores the early efforts of humans in their quest for sustenance, and tells the fascinating stories behind individual foods. With profiles of the most culturally and historically interesting foods of all types, from nuts and grains, fruits and vegetables, and meat and fish, to herbs and spices, this fascinating culinary historical reference provides the facts on all aspects of each food's unique story. Feature spreads shine a spotlight on influential international cuisines and the local foods that built them. The Story of Food explains how foods have become the cornerstone of our culture, from their origins to how they are eaten and their place in world cuisine.
The Tortilla Factory
Beautiful illustrations and a simple story tell how corn is planted and processed to provide the ingredients for the tortilla factory. The story comes full circle as the corn tortillas nourish the workers that return to the field to plant another year's crop.
Thomas Jefferson Grows a Nation
Thomas Jefferson was more than a president and patriot. He was also a planter and gardener who loved to watch things grow—everything from plants and crops to even his brand-new nation. As minister to France, Jefferson promoted all things American, sharing corn and pecans with his Parisian neighbors. As secretary of state, he encouraged his fellow farmers to grow olives, rice, and maple trees. In this meticulously researched picture book for older readers, author Peggy Thomas uncovers Jefferson’s passion for agriculture and his country. And Stacy Innerst’s incredibly original illustrations offer the right balance of reverence and whimsy. Back matter includes an author’s note on Jefferson’s legacy today; timeline, bibliography; place to visit (Monticello); and source notes.
Tomatoes, Potatoes, Corn and Beans
This excellent book describes how foods from North and South America changed eating around the world. It focuses on corn, beans, peppers, peanuts, potatoes, tomatoes, and chocolate but also includes other foods that originated in the Americas. Can you imagine Italian food without the tomato? Indian curries without the pepper? German or Irish food without the potato? Corn is now the most widely grown grain in the world. This book details the history of those transitions and is illustrated with historic artwork and modern photos. For anyone wishing to understand the real gold found in America, this book is an essential read.
Kit
Crazy About Corn
This is a lively, fun-filled elementary education kit, including an educator's guide, activity books, a video, and free songs that will keep students interested while learning about pattern recognition, memory, counting, alphabetizing, geography, agriculture, and elementary scientific concepts. Use these resources to show students how amazing plants can be.
Farming in a Glove (Corn Seeds)
This kit contains instructions and enough materials for a classroom of students to plant five varieties of corn seeds – sweet corn, super sweet corn, popcorn, dent corn (also known as field corn), and flint corn (also known as Indian corn) – in the fingers of a food handler's glove and the cotton necessary to sprout them. Given a few days and some water, the glove will be alive with growing sprouts that your students can observe. An excellent activity for teaching plant growth and genetic differences. Order this kit online from agclassroomstore.com.