National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
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K - 2
In this lesson students will observe various types of seed, be introduced to the many uses of seeds, taste edible seeds, and make a seed mosaic.
- Apple, orange, cucumber, watermelon and squash
- Knife for cutting fruit and vegetables
- Four different edible seeds for each student
- Examples: pumpkin seeds, edamame (immature, green soybeans), sunflower seeds, kidney beans, navy beans, pinto beans
- Seed Observation and Taste Testing chart
- Rulers for each student
- The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
- A wide variety of dried seeds such as beans, sunflower seeds, peas, rice, caraway, or millet for each group of students. You can buy birdseed mix or bags of beans in the soup section of your grocery store.
- Poster board or cardboard for each student
- Selected seed stories such as Which Seed is This? by Lisa Amstutz, Seeds by Vijaya Bodach, Spot the Difference: Seeds by Charlotte Guillain, and A Packet of Seeds by Deborah Hopkinson.
- One egg carton for each group of students
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
cotyledons: an embryonic leaf in seed-bearing plants, one or more of which are the first leaves to appear from a germinating seed
germinate: begin to grow and put out shoots from a seed
grain: a small hard seed of a cereal plant such as wheat or rice
legume: a seed, pod, or other edible part of a leguminous plant used as food
photosynthesis: the process by which green plants use sunlight to synthesize foods from carbon dioxide and water and generates oxygen as a byproduct
seed: the part of a flowering plant that contains an embryo within its protective coat and a stored food supply
Did you know? (Ag Facts)
- Varying conditions such as temperature, moisture, air, and light must be correct in order for seeds to germinate.2
- The United States is the largest seed market in the world.1
- Farmers are required to purchase their seeds for planting each year to attain the best crop yields. This practice can be costly.1
- The first studies done on seeds and plants were tested on corn.1
- Seeds can remain dormant (asleep) until its placed in the correct conditions such as water and soil.2
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
- Display a wide variety of food items to include; apple, orange, cucumber, watermelon, and squash.
- Ask the following questions.
- "What would we see if we cut open each food item and looked inside?" (seeds)
- "Do we usually eat these seeds when eating the fruit or vegetable?" (sometimes)
- Cut open each food item and display the seeds. Ask the following questions.
- "What are these?"
- "Where do you think seeds come from?"
- "Why don't they all look the same?"
- "What are they used for?"
- "Can we eat seeds?"
- "Do farmers use seeds on their farms? How?"
- Record student's responses on your whiteboard or poster paper. Use the student responses to explain that you have displayed examples of seeds. Seeds are produced by a plant once it is fully grown. Seeds have many purposes and some we enjoy eating like sunflower seeds, edamame (immature, green soybeans), or pumpkin seeds. However some seeds are used for planting by farmers and we don't eat them, but we eat the products they produce such as bread made from wheat.
- Tell the students that they will be learning about the uses of seeds.
Activity 1: Seed Observation and Taste Testing
- Refer the students back to their responses from the questions in the Motivator. Use the responses to explain that seeds have many uses and purposes including:
- Growing New Plants - Seeds allow plants to reproduce. (green beans, peas, pumpkins, cucumbers)
- Oil - Some seeds are crushed and used to make oil. (soybeans, peanuts, rape seed, sunflower seed)
- Animal Feed - Some seeds are ground into “meal” for animals. (corn, sorghum, oats, barley)
- Food - Some seeds are eaten whole by humans (peanut, sunflower, sesame, flax seeds)
- Fuel - Some seeds are processed into fuels like ethanol and biodiesel. (soybeans, safflower, sunflower, rape seed)
- Show the students your seed samples once again. If you purchased seeds that can be grown in your area, tell students that those seeds are grown by local farmers and explain what crops they produce.
- As students observe the seeds, help them realize that plants do not all look the same. Seeds also are different in appearance and use.
- Tell the students that today they will investigate four different types of seeds and make observations about their appearance and how they taste. (sunflower, edamame (soybean seed), pumpkin, and pinto bean).
- Hand out the Seed Observation and Taste Testing Chart. Use a sample seed to model how to complete each column. For example: Using a corn kernel:
- Size – use a ruler to measure the corn kernel to the nearest cm
- Color – golden color with a white tip
- Texture – smooth but sharp at the point
- Smell – dusty, earth smell similar to dirt
- Taste – too hard to taste! Assure students that all seeds they will be using will be safe to eat.
- Which seed? Instruct students to make their best guess or hypothesis at which plant each seed is from. Their choices are listed at the top of the chart.
- If you have enough rulers, hand out one to each student or have them share rulers.
- Hand out the seeds one at a time to each student. Have the students place the first seed in the box on their chart that is labeled “seed 1”. Hand out the second seed and instruct the students to place it in the box labeled “seed 2”. Continue for seed 3 and 4.
- Once everyone has the seeds in the appropriate box, tell the students to begin taking their observations and completing the chart. Assist students as needed.
- Ask students to share their hypothesis, or educated guess regarding the seed identifications. Share the actual results and compare student guesses. Help the students understand that a seed is the first stage of a plant's life cycle and when it grows into an adult the plant will produce more seeds.
- Review the purpose of seeds with the students as listed above. (plant reproduction, food for animals and humans, oil, and fuel)
- If available, read the book The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle to support the student's knowledge.
Activity 2: Seed Mosaic
- Place a wide variety of seeds into the compartments of the egg cartons. Distribute one filled egg carton to each group of four students.
- Provide time for the students to examine the seeds. As a class discuss the similarities and differences between the seeds. Sort them into piles.
- Ask the following questions.
- Which seeds do people eat?
- Which seeds do birds or other animals eat?
- Discuss the function of seeds as stated taught in Activity One.
- Read selected stories about different seeds such as Which Seed is This? by Lisa Amstutz, Seeds by Vijaya Bodach, Spot the Difference: Seeds by Charlotte Guillain, and A Packet of Seeds by Deborah Hopkinson.
- Have each student make a seed mosaic as follows:
- Have each student sketch a simple picture or design on posterboard or cardboard. Ideas include basic outlines of fish, tractors, cars, birds, pears, trees, and more.
- After giving students a demonstration of how they can glue seeds on their poster board to create different designs, have students create their own colorful display.
- Display the mosaics in the classroom, hallway, and offices.
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation:
At the conclusion of this activity, review and summarize the following key concepts:
- Seeds come in various shapes and sizes.
- Seeds have many functions, including plant reproduction, a common food source for humans, and a base for livestock feed.
- Examples of seeds we eat include sunflower seeds, beans, corn, etc.
- Farmers grow plants with seeds.
- Use birdseed or feed grains in a classification activity and discuss the different seeds that are fed to livestock.
- Model the Think, Pair, Share method: Tell students to ask a partner, “Name a type of seed that people eat.” Their partner should then respond, “People eat sunflower seeds.”
- Provide a variety of seeds and their name labels for display.
Have the students examine a mature sunflower. Instruct the students to estimate the number of seeds in the sunflower, then count the seeds as they remove them. Roast the seeds and enjoy eating them.
Have students save seeds from fruits and vegetables they eat. Have students draw a picture of the fruit or vegetable and then glue the seeds onto the paper to form an outline of the drawing. Bind the samples together to make a class seed book.
Organize a “Seeds for Lunch” day. Each dish must contain edible seeds. Examples include corn bread, peanut butter and jam sandwiches, rice pudding, granola, burritos, popcorn balls, banana-nut bread, chocolate covered raisins, and corn on the cob.
Have the students examine various ways seeds promote their own dispersal. For example, some seeds get caught in animal fur while others are carried by the wind. Seeds, such as coconuts and cranberries, float, some get dispersed in animal scat, and others spread by exploding.
Suggested Companion Resources
- A Seed in Need: A First Look at the Plant Cycle (Book)
- A Seed is Sleepy (Book)
- How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? (Book)
- Plants Feed Me (Book)
- Sadie's Seed Adventures: Learning About Seeds (Book)
- Seeds Go, Seeds Grow! (Book)
- The Tiny Seed (Book)
- The Life of a Seed (Multimedia)
Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
Food, Health, and Lifestyle
- Identify healthy food options (T3.K-2.a)
Plants and Animals for Food, Fiber & Energy
- Identify examples of feed/food products eaten by animals and people (T2.K-2.c)
Education Content Standards
Health Standard 7: Demonstrate the ability to practice health-enhancing behaviors and avoid or reduce health risks.
Common Core Connections
Reading: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.10Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.
Speaking and Listening: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix (2013) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.