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National Agriculture in the Classroom

Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix


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Lesson Plans (21)

A Day Without Dairy

In this lesson, students will create, read, and interpret graphs relating to the economic importance of the dairy industry and be challenged to understand the economic consequences of a day without dairy.

Blue's the Clue: Souring Milk for Science (Grades 6-8)

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.

Blue's the Clue: Souring Milk for Science (Grades 9-12)

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.

Cowabunga! All About Dairy Breeds

In this lesson, students will understand breed characteristics and countries of origin for five different breeds of dairy cattle. Students will discover why dairy farmers choose individual breeds for specific purposes.

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.

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.

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. 

FoodMASTER: Milk and Cheese

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

It's a MOO-stery! (Grades 3-5)

Students will make observations and learn about historic tools used on a dairy farm to store and process milk into cheese and butter.

It's a MOO-stery! (Grades K-2)

Students will be introduced to the dairy industry and will make observations about how historic tools such as a butter paddle, cheese press, and milk tester can be used to process milk on a dairy farm.

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.

Milk Makin' Math

In this lesson, students will learn about the numerous career opportunities involved in the dairy industry. They will also practice real world math problems related to specific careers within the industry. 

Milk or Meat? Beef or Dairy?
Students will identify the differences between beef and dairy cattle and determine the commodities produced by each type of cattle.
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.

Right This Very Minute

Students will 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. Students will study a map to discover where different commodities are grown and write a thank-you letter to farmers in their local community.

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.

Sun, to Moo, to You!

Students will investigate the transfer of energy in the process of making milk. Students will understand that there are different forms of energy, that living things need energy to survive, and that the primary source of energy is the sun.

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.

The Ultimate Efficient Recycler
In this lesson, students will 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 will identify each of the stages in the ecological cycle and the important role of decomposers.
Where Does It Come From?

Students will 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.

Whipping Butter into Shape

Students will investigate the physical change that occurs as milk is turned into butter.

Companion Resources (46)

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
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.
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. 
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.
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 graduated cylinder, a bottle of methylene blue, a carton of UHT milk, and instructions. Order this kit online from agclassroomstore.com.
Map/Infographic
Agricultural Commodity & Natural Resource Fact 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.
Animal Facts
This three-page informational sheet describes the processes of how an animal grows, how it gets from the farm to the store, and what products are produced from that animal. Words and simple graphics are used to portray this information for beef cattle, pigs, chickens, sheep, and dairy cows. Text may be difficult for young readers but can be used by teachers as a basic resource for descriptive purposes.
Interactive Map Project
Use this interactive map to help students see how geography and climate affects the production of agricultural crops. The map has USDA statistics built in to allow your students to answer questions such as, "Which state(s) produce the most cattle?" "Where does [my state] rank nationally in corn production?" "What region of the United States produces the most cotton?" etc. There are many agricultural maps available including field crops such as corn, wheat, barley, and alfalfa in addition to fruit and vegetable crops, ornamental nursery crops, and livestock.
Livestock Cards
Double-sided cards representing four livestock species. These cards can add a reading supplement activity to lesson plans to help teach the basic principles about beef cattle, dairy cattle, pigs, and poultry. The cards can be printed from the attached PDF or ordered from the Nebraska Foundation for Agricultural Awareness.
Nutrition Posters
How would you rather eat calcium, fiber, iron, protein, vitamin C, and zinc? This set of posters provides examples of foods that fit into each category and includes nutrition information about each.
Movie/Video
"Cheese Science-As Gouda as TV Gets" Video Series
The Utah Education Network (UEN) website has a series of 25 three minute video clips about cheese and food science.  The videos teach science, chemistry, and physics principles in addition to highlighting many careers in related fields.