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National Agriculture in the Classroom

Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix

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Lesson Plans (33)

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

Animals on the Farm

Students discover that farm animals produce different types of products. Grades PreK-K

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. Grades 6-8

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. 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: From Liquid to Solid

Students make fresh mozzarella cheese and discover the science (changing a liquid to a solid), 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

Enzymes and Bacteria are Whey Cool!

Students study the science of amino acids, proteins, enzymes, and beneficial bacteria to explore the phenomena, "Why does each variety of cheese taste different when the ingredients are the same?" Grades 9-12

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: Milk

Students will understand the nutritional components of milk (carbohydrates) as they test three types of milk for the sugar glucose before and after adding the digestive enzyme lactase to determine which milk(s) contain the sugar lactose. They will also explore the nutritional composition and health benefits of consuming milk, research food sources of calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus and devise ways to add bone-strengthening food to their diet. 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

From Cow to Carton: Milk's Journey to the Consumer

Students will explore milk production in the United States and explain the benefits of homogenization, pasteurization, and fortification of milk. Grades 6-8

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

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

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

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

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

Mastering Mindful Eating (Grades 6-8)

Students will explore hunger, satiety, and mindful eating to discover how our eating habits are impacted by our awareness to physiological signals of hunger or fullness. Students will also practice mindful eating practices and explore portion sizes as they sort foods, create meals using portion-size food models, and track their food using mindful eating practices. Grades 6-8

Mastering Mindful Eating (Grades 9-12)

Students will explore hunger, satiety, and mindful eating to discover how our eating habits are impacted by our awareness to physiological signals of hunger or fullness. Students will also practice mindful eating practices and explore portion sizes as they sort foods, create meals using portion-size food models, and track their food using mindful eating practices. 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, Sugar, Science: Engineering Ice Cream

Students explore the journey of milk from cow to ice cream, make ice cream in a bag, and discover how food engineers have developed many different processes for making ice cream. 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

Photosynthesis: Energy's Journey From Farm to You

Explore photosynthesis to discover how plants obtain energy from the sun and then continue following energy's path to see how energy can flow through ecosystems to ultimately provide food for humans. Grades 6-8

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

Companion Resources (51)

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.
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
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.
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.
Ice Cream Man: How Augustus Jackson Made a Sweet Treat Better
Black ice cream vendor Augustus Jackson (1808-1852) began his life in Philadelphia, where slavery was outlawed. After cooking regularly for his family, Augustus decided at age 12 to support them further, using his kitchen know-how to find work. He applied and was hired at the White House, and by 17 he'd earned the title of cook and developed a particular expertise—making ice cream for White House guests. One day, he developed a new dream—making ice cream that all could enjoy—and opened an ice cream parlor in his hometown. By adding rock salt to the ice that froze the confection, he started conjuring ice cream in half the time, a change that allowed him to sell the product "near and far." Augustus's dream had come true, and better yet, he had brought smiles to many faces.
Ice Cream: The Full Scoop
Cool and smooth and sweet, ice cream has long been a favorite treat. It cools you off when it's hot and is too delicious to resist even in cold weather. How did it get to be so scrumptious? Ice Cream: The Full Scoop dishes out the latest scoop on ice cream production. Ice cream has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a mixture of snow, milk, and rice. This book details the many firsts in ice cream history, from the earliest ice cream crank to the original waffle cone. Children's mouths will be watering as they follow ice cream's journey from farm to factory to freezer.
It's Milking Time
As the sun sets over the fields, a little girl and her father begin the evening milking. The girls gathers the cows—a "Holstein parade"—and guides them to the barn. Father and daughter work side by side, pulling up the grain for feeding, fanning out beds of straw, and hooking up the milkers. In the corner pen, the girl feeds the calves all by herself. Soon they've filled milk can after milk can for the creamery truck that will arrive in the morning. The fresh dairy product isn't just for them—other families will buy their milk, butter, and cheese at stores and farmers markets near and far, connecting the little girl's farm to the world beyond.
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.
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.