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National Agriculture in the Classroom

Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix


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Lesson Plans (23)

A Day Without Dairy

Students create, read, and interpret graphs relating to the economic importance of the dairy industry and are challenged to understand the economic consequences of a day without dairy. Grades 3-5

Blue's the Clue: Souring Milk for Science

This lab introduces students to the effect temperature has on reducing and controlling the growth of bacteria. Students will use conventionally pasteurized and ultra-high-temperature (UHT) milk to observe how different temperatures (hot, room temperature, cool, and freezing) affect the growth of spoilage bacteria. They will also learn about the importance of pasteurization in keeping food safe. Grades 6-8

Blue's the Clue: Souring Milk for Science

This lab introduces students to the effect temperature has on reducing and controlling the growth of bacteria. Students will use conventionally pasteurized and ultra-high-temperature (UHT) milk to observe how different temperatures (hot, room temperature, cool, and freezing) affect the growth of spoilage bacteria. They will also learn about the importance of pasteurization in keeping food safe. Grades 9-12

Cheesemaking: A Science, an Art, and a Craft

Students make fresh mozzarella cheese and explore a career as an artisan cheesemaker as they discover the science, art, and craft involved in the development of specialty cheeses. Grades 6-8

Cheesemaking: A Science, an Art, and a Craft

Students make fresh mozzarella cheese and discover the science, art, and craft involved in the development of specialty cheese. Grades 3-5

Cowabunga! All About Dairy Breeds

Students explore breed characteristics and countries of origin for five different breeds of dairy cattle and discover why dairy farmers choose individual breeds for specific purposes. Grades 3-5

Energy's Journey from Farm to You

Students discover how plants use energy from the sun to change air and water into matter needed for growth. Using dairy cows as an example, students investigate how animals obtain energy from the plants they eat to produce milk for human consumption. Further exploration is facilitated by a live virtual visit to a dairy farm or the option of viewing a pre-recorded virtual dairy farm tour. Grades 3-5

FoodMASTER Middle: Cheese

Students will learn about the Law of Conservation of Mass by exploring environmental factors that can impact protein coagulation in milk (cheese-making process). By making qualitative and quantitative observations they will test three possible methods of making curds and whey. Grades 6-8

FoodMASTER Middle: Yogurt

Students will learn the role of bacterial fermentation and evaluate the effect of fat content, sugar content (lactose), and temperature in bacterial fermentation as they make yogurt. Grades 6-8 

FoodMASTER: Milk and Cheese

Students taste test four different milks while comparing color, texture, taste, and cost. In addition, students examine four milk food labels and complete a table comparing calories, fat, and calcium found in the milks. Students make cottage cheese by heating milk to the proper temperature and adding an acid (vinegar) to speed up the separation of curds and whey. Grades 3-5

It's a MOO-stery!

Students make observations about historic tools used on a dairy farm to store and process milk into cheese and butter. Grades K-2

It's a MOO-stery!

Students make observations about historic tools used on a dairy farm to store and process milk into cheese and butter. Grades 3-5

Lactose Lab: Some Don't Like it Sweet

In this lesson students will learn the chemistry and composition of milk, identify the difference between a monosaccharide and disaccharide, and carry out a laboratory activity testing the effect of the enzyme lactase on various milks. Grades 9-12

Milk Makin' Math

Students explore the numerous career opportunities involved in the dairy industry and solve real world math problems related to specific careers within the industry. Grades 3-5

Milk or Meat? Beef or Dairy?

Students identify the differences between beef and dairy cattle and determine the commodities produced by each type of cattle. Grades K-2

Milk: The Scoop on Chemical and Physical Changes

In this lesson students apply their knowledge of physical science to dairy products to determine if the changes that take place when turning milk into cheese, butter, yogurt, ice cream, whip cream and other dairy products, is a physical or chemical change. Grades 9-12

Right This Very Minute

Students read Right This Very Minute—a table-to-farm book about food production and farming—and diagram the path of production for a processed product, study a map to discover where different commodities are grown, and write a thank-you letter to farmers in their local community. Grades 3-5

Stacking Up Milk and Milk Substitutes

Students will compare and contrast milk and plant-based milk substitutes by learning their source from farm-to-table and discovering how they "stack-up" in nutritional value. Students will also explore food package labeling laws and consumer trends in milk consumption to think critically about the impact of labels in marketing and consumer perceptions of food. Grades 9-12

Sun, to Moo, to You!

Students investigate the transfer of energy in the process of making milk, discover that there are different forms of energy, determine that living things need energy to survive, and identify the sun as the primary source of energy. Grades 3-5

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. Grades 6-8

The Ultimate Efficient Recycler

Students examine how cows help conserve natural resources by identifying the important role dairy cattle have in reducing, reusing, and recycling food processing by-products. Students identify each stage of the ecological cycle and the important role of decomposers. Grades 3-5

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. Grades 3-5

Whipping Butter into Shape

Students investigate the physical change that occurs as milk is turned into butter. Grades 3-5

Companion Resources (49)

Activity
Better Butter
This activity details instruction for making butter in a small baby-food sized jar. 
Farm Pop-Ups

Students use this template to create a pop-up game to reinforce agricultural concepts concerning various plants and animals. Templates are available for apples, cows, dairy, pigs, sheep, and turkeys. Teachers can use the blank template to create their own pop-ups to reinforce concepts and understanding for any area of study.

Fill MyPlate Game
Test your students’ understanding of nutrition with this exciting, fast-paced board game. Students take turns rolling a die, moving to different sections of the MyPlate board, and answering basic trivia about healthy eating and food science. The first to “fill their plate” with one trivia card from each section (Fruits, Grains, Vegetables, Protein, and Dairy) wins! In-game bonuses encourage students to exercise, reinforcing personal choice as an important component to a healthy lifestyle. Each gameboard comes with materials for up to five students. Available for purchase or free download. Order this game online from agclassroomstore.com.
Book
A Big Cheese for the White House: The True Tale of a Tremendous Cheddar
In 1801, the proud citizens of Cheshire, Massachusetts boasted that their cheese was the very best. But then they heard the shocking news: President Jefferson was serving Norton cheese at the White House! What to do? Elder John Leland had an idea. A very large idea. If everyone worked together, they could make a cheese so large that President Jefferson would be serving Cheshire cheese at the White House for years to come. How the villagers of Cheshire create a true cheese-making miracle and transport it to the nation's capitol makes a spirited, rollicking tale. Based on a true moment in American history, this funny picture book celebrates the ingenuity and community spirit of one small New England town as it attempts to make the country's biggest cheese for the nation's greatest man.
All in Just One Cookie
This book takes students on a world-wide exploration to find the source of each of the ingredients used to make chocolate chip cookies. "Visit" a dairy farm for the milk to make butter, Madagascar to find vanilla beans, and even a mine for baking soda and salt.
Casper Jaggi: Master Swiss Cheese Maker
Have you ever wondered why Swiss cheese has holes? You'll find out in this story about a Swiss cheese maker named Casper Jaggi. Casper Jaggi was only six years old when his father taught him how to make cheese in the Swiss Alps. In 1913, Jaggi left Switzerland in search of new opportunities in the United States. Like many other Swiss, he settled in Green County, Wisconsin, where the rolling hills dotted with grazing cows reminded him of home. And soon, he'd be turning cow's milk into cheese, just as he did in Switzerland. The book opens the doors to Jaggi's Brodhead Swiss Cheese Factory—largest factory of its kind in Wisconsin in the 1950s. Archival photos help illustrate, step-by-step, the process Jaggi and his workers followed to transform 2,000 pounds of milk in a copper kettle into a 200-pound wheel of Swiss cheese. Jaggi was one of the many European immigrants  who helped establish Wisconsin's reputation for delicious cheese. The Artisan cheese makers crafting award-winning cheeses today are continuing this rich tradition in America's Dairyland.
Chuck's Ice Cream Wish (Tales of the Dairy Godmother)
With the help of his Dairy Godmother, Chuck is taken—poof!—on a memorable and delicious adventure to a dairy farm. He finds out exactly where ice cream comes from and gains an even deeper love and appreciation for his favorite food.
Clarabelle
By featuring a single cow (Clarabelle) and her calf on a large, modern-day Wisconsin dairy farm, Peterson describes all the latest technology that enables farmers to create energy and other by-products from their herds. And yet none of the modern-day machinery matches the miracle of production that is the cow herself. Vibrant, close-up photographs capture Clarabelle with her herdmates and her newborn calf as well as the family members of Norswiss Farm who live and work together.
Extra Cheese, Please!
When Annabelle gives birth to her calf, she also begins to produce milk. The milk is then processed into cheese, and from the cheese, pizza is made. An excellent nonfiction look at milk production.
Farm Animals
Farm Animals is a 32-page book filled with facts to learn about many types of farms and the animals that live there. The book includes real-life pictures and color illustrations. In addition to the text, each page includes a fun fact. Readers will learn why traditional farm animals such as beef cattle, dairy cattle, goats, sheep, chickens, and pigs are kept on farms. They will also learn why specialty farms raise ducks, geese, fish, and ostriches.
Food
This book traces the production of food from the farm to our fork. Readers learn where fruits and vegetables grow, visit a dairy where milk is produced, learn about eggs and meat which come from animals, and see how wheat is processed into flour to bake cakes or make pasta. 
Jack & the Hungry Giant Eat Right with MyPlate
Yummy! Colorful images of fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and protein foods fill the pages of this picture book starring Jack of beanstalk fame. Fortunately, the friendly giant in this version of the story is happy to invite a guest for dinner. As they cook together, Jack learns about the food groups that are a part of a well-balanced meal. The book is an appetizing way to introduce children to the MyPlate nutrition program, written and illustrated by Loreen Leedy.
Kiss the Cow!
Never. Not a chance. Annalisa wouldn't dream of kissing Luella the cow, even though her mother kisses her every day after singing her a song and milking her. Still, inquisitive Annalisa is awfully interested in milking Luella, and one day she sneaks off and does everything just the way her mother does - except for the kiss on the nose. Will Annalisa's innate curiosity get the best of her?
Let's Make Butter
This book describes the way foods can change, using butter as an example, and shows the steps needed to make heavy cream into butter.
Make Mine Ice Cream
A colorful photographic journey from milk to ice cream. A 'big book' format for young audiences.
Milk Comes From a Cow?
Follow the travels of Kailey as this city girl visits a dairy farm to learn where milk comes from. Gather trivia about milk along the way and take a tour of a milk processing plant. This educational story offers a fun way for young people, parents, and teachers to learn more about agriculture. The book, sponsored by the Kansas Farm Bureau, is now available for download from their website as part of an app that comes complete with a host of bonus features and videos.
On the Farm, at the Market
Take a behind-the-scenes tour of three different farms where food is locally grown, harvested, and sold at the market. This book illustrates the journey of vegetables, cheese, and mushrooms as they travel from the farm to your fork. 
Say Cheese! A Kid's Guide to Cheese Making
A mother-daughter team bring easy cheese making right into your kitchen with this fun guide for kids and families. Step-by-step photos take kids ages 8–12 through the cheese making process, then teach them how to make 12 classic favorites, including mozzarella, feta, ricotta, and cream cheese. A hearty helping of kitchen chemistry and math along with bits of international cheese making history add to the education. 
The Milk Makers
This 32-page book describes and illustrates the process of milk production from the care of the cows to the processing of the milk and each step in between.
The Perfect Barn
Have you ever wondered about the purpose or function of different types of barns? The Perfect Barn is a captivating story about an owl that searches for a barn that would meet her needs and tells the story about some of the modern-day uses of barns. In the book, the main character, Barn Owl, takes flight to find the perfect barn. On her journey, she discovers various types of barns and the animals that live there—chickens, pigs, dairy cows, and sheep. Will Barn Owl find the perfect barn? At the last farm, Barn Owl makes a great discovery.
Booklet/Reader
Dairy Reader
Dairy cows are amazing animals. This printable student reader takes kids through the basics of milk production, how dairy cows are cared for, important vocabulary, and why milk is part of a healthy diet. 
Sprout 2 - Careers
Do you have students that believe Agriculture only provides careers for farmers? This activity booklet defines agriculture and examines careers within the industry that include agricultural engineers, dairy farmers, turf scientist, veterinarians, and many more that are important but rarely discussed. The booklet also includes questions and activities for student engagement that builds vocabulary and knowledge. 
Kit
Biotech Cheese Kit
Make cheese in your classroom using the same fast methods as industry. This kit includes the recipe to make cheese (also available to download), cheesecloth, and two different types of rennet - one from an organic animal source and one from a genetically modified yeast source. You add water, powdered milk, and buttermilk. This is a great activity for exploring enzymes and chemistry as well as the benefits and concerns surrounding genetic modification. Order this kit online from agclassroomstore.com.
Blue's the Clue
We're spoiling milk for science! This kit provides your students with the chance to experiment with different variables that affect something most of them drink every day. This experiment can be used to model the scientific process or to get kids thinking about how scientists and quality control workers keep them safe and healthy every day. The kit includes six test tubes with caps, one test tube stand, a bottle of methylene blue, a carton of UHT milk, and instructions. Order this kit online from agclassroomstore.com.
Map
Agricultural Fact and Activity Sheets
These fact sheets provide information on the history, production, top producing regions and economic values of various agricultural products and natural resources.  The activity sheets provide specific lesson ideas and fun facts for each topic. Commodities include agricultural water, alfalfa, almonds, artichokes, asparagus, avocados, beef, cantaloupes, carrots, citrus fruits, cling peaches, corn, cotton, cut flowers, dairy, dried plums, dry beans, forest resources, mushroom, pears, pistachios, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, processing tomato, rice, strawberries, table grapes, walnuts.