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National Agriculture in the Classroom

Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix


Lesson Plan

Peaches: What's All the Fuzz About?

Grade Levels

3 - 5

Purpose

Students explore peach production in various regions of the United States, describe how peaches are produced and processed from farm to table, and explain how internal and external structures of peaches support survival and growth. Grades 3-5

Estimated Time

1 hour

Materials Needed

Interest Approach — Engagement:

Activity 1: The Anatomy of a Peach

Activity 2: What's All the Fuzz About?

Activity 3: Peach Production

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

blossom: to produce flowers or masses of flowers

dormant: not active but able to become active

flesh: the pulpy substance of a fruit or vegetable, especially the part that is eaten

stone: a hard seed in a peach, cherry, plum, or other stone fruit

Did You Know? (Ag Facts)
  • During harvest, peaches are picked by hand from the trees.1
  • The peach tree belongs to the same family of trees as almonds and roses.1
  • Georgia grows 130 million pounds of peaches each year, but California and South Carolina each produce more peaches than Georgia!1
  • Peaches are best picked when the fruit easily separates from the tree. If it is difficult to pull off the tree, it isn't ripe.1
Background Agricultural Connections

Peaches are a popular fruit known for their juicy flesh and fuzzy skin. It is believed that peaches originated in China and were associated with royalty. Later on, peaches were introduced to Europe. Spanish explorers brought peaches to the New World.2 In the United States, large-scale peach production did not begin until the 19th century.

California, South Carolina, Georgia, and New Jersey are the top peach-producing states in the nation. Georgia is well-known for its peaches, but many do not realize California and South Carolina each produce more peaches than Georgia. Peaches cannot tolerate extremely cold climates and they also cannot thrive in areas with very mild winters. Most varieties of peaches require over 500 hours of chilly weather during winter months to stimulate growth after the dormant period. This is why peaches can't be grown in the tropics. Peach trees blossom in the spring with bright pink flowers, and late frosts are always a concern for peach producers. If a late frost kills the flowers on peach trees, then peach production for the year is ruined.

The peach develops from a single ovary and ripens into a juicy edible part with a hard interior, also known as the stone or pit. The flesh of a peach can be yellow, white, or even red. Scientists believe the fuzzy skin surrounding the peach acts as a barrier against insects, helps repel excess outside moisture, and traps moisture inside the peach to prevent it from drying out. It is commonly believed that a nectarine is a hybrid of a peach and plum; however, it is actually just a peach without fuzzy skin. In this case, fuzzy skin is considered a dominant trait and the smooth skin on nectarines is a recessive trait. Peaches sold at grocery stores might look less fuzzy than those sold fresh at produce stands or farmers markets. Why? Excessively fuzzy peaches at stores do not sell as well. Some think too much fuzz on a peach might remind consumers of mold. Before peaches are sold at grocery stores, they are "de-fuzzed" which means some of the fuzz is removed from the peach to make it more appealing. This is done with brushes, wet knives, and power washers.

Peaches are very nutritious and contain high amounts of fiber, potassium, and vitamins A and C.3 Many people enjoy eating peaches in a variety of ways including fresh, canned, or in cobblers and pies.

Interest Approach - Engagement
  1. Pass out each of the What Am I? clues to various students in the class.
  2. In numerical order, ask each student to read their clue out loud.
  3. After each clue has been read, pause and let students guess what the clue is referring to. Write each of the guesses on the board after each clue has been read aloud.
  4. After all of the clues have been read, ask students to look at each of the guesses on the board and decide on a final answer.
  5. Reveal the correct answer to the class—A peach!
Procedures

Activity 1: The Anatomy of a Peach

  1. Pass out an Anatomy of a Peach handout to each student.
  2. Write the following terms on the board for students to see:
    • Stem end
    • Tip (blossom end)
    • Pit
    • Flesh
    • Suture
    • Cheek
    • Shoulders
  3. Project the Anatomy of a Peach handout onto the board. Ask the students for their ideas about where each part of the peach is located. Label the peach for students to see.
  4. Instruct the students to label the peach on their handout.
  5. Explain that all stone fruits (peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots) have shoulders, cheeks, and sutures.
  6. Instruct the students to write a short description next to each labeled part:
    • Shoulders: the bulge around the stem cavity at the top of the fruit. It becomes full and rounded as the fruit matures.
    • Suture: The line running from the stem end to the blossom end of the fruit.
    • Cheek: The sides of the fruit on either side of the suture.
    • Blossom end or tip: The end opposite the stem.
    • Stem end: The end where the peach was attached to the tree. The depression around the stem is called the stem cavity.
    • Pit or stone: The pit supports the fruit as it hangs from the stem and provides the pathway for nutrients flowing from the tree as the fruit grows.
    • Flesh: The edible portion of the peach.
  7. Ask the students, "What other part of the peach (that's not labeled) helps it grow and survive?" (the fuzz)

Activity 2: What's All the Fuzz About?

  1. Pass out a sticky note to each student in the room.
  2. Hold up a peach for the class to see. 
  3. Pass the peach (or multiple peaches) around the classroom for the students to observe and feel.
  4. Ask, "Why do peaches have fuzz?"
  5. Instruct the students to write their answer on their sticky note and then stick it onto the board.
  6. After all of the students have posted their answers, pull off each note and read them aloud. Group similar answers together on the board.
  7. Discuss the ideas as a class. Guide the students to think about protection. 
  8. Ask, "What is the peach fuzz protecting against?" Explain that scientists believe peach fuzz helps protect the delicate peach skin, acts as a barrier for most insects, traps moisture inside the peach to keep it from drying out, and repels surface moisture which prevents the fruit from rotting.
  9. Hold up a peach in front of the class. Ask, "What happens when peaches are rained on or get wet outside?"
  10. Determine the best way for students to all see a close-up of the demonstration (gather around as a class or repeat the demonstration in small groups). Using a spray bottle or watering can, pour water droplets on the peach. Allow the students to watch as the moisture is repelled and the water droplets roll off the peach.
  11. Discuss how plants have internal and external structures that help with survival, growth, and reproduction.
  12. Ask the students to think of other fruits, vegetables, or plants that have protective structures.
  13. Explain that nectarines are peaches without fuzz, and because they don't have a fuzzy protection, a nectarine's skin is much more delicate which can make nectarines harder to grow.
  14. Show the Peaches: What's the Fuzz About? video. Ask the students to listen for reasons why peaches have fuzz and why the fuzz is removed before being sold at grocery stores.
    AActivity

Activity 3: Peach Production

  1. Discuss with the students that peaches and other fruits have different physical structures that help peaches grow, reproduce, and mature; but how do farmers help peaches grow?
  2. Show the Peach: How Does it Grow? video to explore the clues they read aloud in the Interest Approach—Engagement section of the lesson. 
  3. Point out specific practices that farmers use to ensure their peach trees are productive each year in order to provide quality peaches for consumers:
    • Replant trees every year.
    • Thin out blossoms by hand to make room for the peaches to grow.
    • Pick the ripened peaches by hand.

Concept Elaboration and Evaluation:

After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:

  • Peaches have different physical structures that help them to grow, reproduce, and mature.
  • Peach fuzz helps protect peaches by acting as an insect barrier, repelling excess outside moisture, and trapping inside moisture to prevent drying out.
  • Peach farmers use common agricultural practices to ensure peach trees are healthy and productive each year.
Enriching Activities
  • Bring a variety of peaches to class for the students to taste. Have the students observe the different colors, shapes, and tastes.

  • Instruct the students to complete a Venn diagram comparing the physical structures of peaches and another type of fruit.

  • View the Peach Harvest & Packing video to learn more about the production of peaches.

Author

Bekka Israelsen

Organization Affiliation

Utah Agriculture in the Classroom

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