National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix

Search

Eggs: From Hen to Home (Grades 3-5)

Grade Level(s)

3 - 5

Estimated Time

2 hours

Purpose

Students will trace the production path of eggs, beginning on the farm and ending in their home. Students will identify the culinary uses and nutritional benefits of eggs.

Materials

Activity 1: From Hen to Home

Activity 2: Egg Nutrition

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

Vocabulary

breed: a stock of animals or plants within a species having a distinctive appearance and typically having been developed by deliberate selection

candle: test an egg for freshness or fertility by holding it to the light

consumer: a person who purchases the goods and services offered by a producer

coop: an enclosure where poultry live

domestic: an animal that has been tamed and kept by humans as a work animal, food source, or pet

fertilize: cause an egg, female animal, or plant to develop a new individual by introducing male reproductive material

hen: female chicken usually raised to produce eggs

incubate: to provide heat so as to promote embryonic development and the hatching of young

leavening: a substance used in dough or batter to make it rise

nutrient: a substance that provides nourishment essential for growth and the maintenance of life

poultry: domestic fowl, such as chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese

protein: a substance that has amino acids, compounds, and carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and sometimes sulfur and is found in many foods

Did you know? (Ag Facts)

  • The process of an egg traveling from "Hen to Home" takes approximately a week or less.
  • When refrigerated, eggs have a shelf life of 3-5 weeks.
  • The majority of eggs purchased in a grocery store have white shells and were produced by a White Leghorn, a breed of chicken known for their egg production.

Background Agricultural Connections

Eggs are produced by hens (female chickens) on farms. Hens begin laying eggs when they are 4-6 months old. A good laying hen will produce 6-7 eggs per week for the first 1-2 years of her life. Chickens are domestic fowl, as are turkeys, ducks, and geese. All species of poultry lay eggs. Chicken eggs are most commonly consumed in the United States. 

Eggs come in various shell colors, although there is no nutritional difference between different colored eggs. The shell color depends upon the breed of chicken. Eggs can be white, tan, brown, or even a light shade of green. Chickens can be raised on a large or small scale. A few chickens can easily be raised in a backyard to provide eggs for a family. Eggs that are purchased from a store likely came from a farm. Chickens live in houses called coops. They eat a special feed that includes grains, such as ground up corn and wheat.

Eggs that are produced for the purpose of eating will never develop into a chick because the eggs are not fertilized by a rooster and they are never incubated (kept warm). On a farm, eggs are collected each day. The eggs go through a processing plant where they are washed, checked for cracks and abnormalities, sized, graded, and then packaged. The contents of an egg can be seen by a method called candling (holding it up to a light). If an egg has an abnormal shape or appearance, it is discarded and the remaining eggs are packaged into cartons. The eggs leave the processing plant in refrigerated trucks which deliver them to retail grocery stores to be sold to consumers.

Eggs are graded into three classifications according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) grading system—AA, A, and B. The grade of an egg is determined by the interior and exterior quality of the egg. Grade AA eggs have thick, firm whites and the yolks are free from any defects. Their shells are clean, smooth, and oval in shape. Grade A eggs have a slightly lower interior quality. Grade B eggs may have slight stains and be irregular in shape. Grade B eggs are not sold in supermarkets, but are used in powdered or liquid egg products. There is no nutritional difference between the different grades. 

Egg size is determined by the average weight per dozen. Jumbo eggs are 30 oz. per dozen, extra large are 27 oz., large are 24 oz., medium are 21 oz., small eggs are 18 oz. per dozen. The age, breed, and weight of the hen as well as environmental factors influence the size of an egg. As a hen ages, the size of her eggs increase. Underweight birds lay smaller eggs. Stress, heat, overcrowding, and poor nutrition can also result in smaller eggs. Eggs are weighed by electronic scales and packaged by size based on weight.

Eggs are an important part of our diet because they are an abundant source of protein. One large 70 calorie egg contains 6 grams of high-quality protein and 8 essential nutrients including choline (critical for fetal brain development and brain function) and vitamin D (critical for bone health). Eating 20-40 grams of protein, from foods like eggs, promotes muscle recovery following exercise and helps preserve muscle during aging. Egg yolks contain lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids that can support eye health as you age. Research shows that dietary cholesterol (say, from eggs) does not negatively impact blood cholesterol and may even increase "good" cholesterol.1 

Though eggs can be prepared in various ways for breakfast, they are also important and commonly used in other foods. Eggs help bind ingredients together, act as a leavening agent, and help to thicken soups and sauces.

Interest Approach – Engagement

  1. Write the words BreakfastLunch, and Dinner on the board. Ask the students to name as many ways they can think of to prepare eggs for the different mealtimes. Write a list of their ideas under each mealtime. Examples could include:
    • Breakfast: scrambled, poached, omelet, boiled, baked, over easy, over hard
    • Lunch: frittata, quiche, egg salad, egg sandwich
    • Dinner: deviled eggs, Pad Thai, pasta salad
  2. Explain to the students that they are going to explore where eggs come from, how they get to the grocery store, and how they can be part of a healthy diet.

Procedures

Activity 1: From Hen to Home

  1. Watch the video Eggs: From Farm to Supermarket.
  2. Ask the students, "What are the steps involved in getting eggs from the farm to the grocery store?"
  3. Organize the students into six groups. Provide each group with a set of Egg Production Cards. Ask the groups to work together to place the cards in the order that show the steps it takes to get eggs from the farm to the supermarket.
  4. Have the students check the order of their cards by watching from minute 1:57 to minute 4:15 of the video Hickman's Family Farms.
  5. Explain to the students that technology is used in every production step to increase efficiency and decrease costs. Ask the students to describe some of the technologies they noticed from the videos.
  6. Assign each group one of the production steps below to explore. Provide the groups with the From Hen to Home discovery sheet that corresponds with their production step.
    • Hens lay eggs
    • Eggs are washed
    • Eggs are checked for cracks
    • Eggs are sized
    • Eggs are graded
    • Eggs are packaged and shipped
  7. Have each group read the information on their discovery sheet, watch the video, and create a poster to present to the class. Each poster should include the following information:
    • Name of the production step.
    • What happens during this step.
    • Technology that is used during this step.
    • Interesting information about this step.
  8. Allow each group time to share their poster with the class.

Activity 2: Egg Nutrition

  1. View the video How Eating an Egg Impacts Your Health.
  2. Pass out an Egg Nutrition activity sheet to each student.
  3. Ask the students to cut out the cards at the bottom of the activity sheet and use the information from the video to match the parts of the body with the card that describes how eggs can benefit that part of the body.
  4. Re-watch the video, pausing when necessary, and check the matches before having the students glue the cards in place.

Concept Elaboration and Evaluation

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

  • A female chicken, called a hen, is raised on a farm to produce eggs for us to eat.
  • Eggs are produced on a farm, cleaned, sized, graded, and packaged at a processing plant, transported to a grocery store, and then finally sold to a consumer.
  • Eggs are an important part of our diet because they are a nutrient-dense source of protein.

Important
We welcome your feedback! Please take a minute to tell us how to make this lesson better or to give us a few gold stars!

 

Enriching Activities

  • Visit the Interactive Map Project website and view the map representing Egg Production in the United States. Identify the state that produces the most eggs, then find where your state ranks for egg production.

  • If any of your students have their own chickens, invite the students to bring some eggs from home. Compare the size and color(s) of the eggs with those that are typically purchased from the grocery store.

Suggested Companion Resources

Agricultural Literacy Outcomes

Food, Health, and Lifestyle

  • Diagram the path of production for a processed product, from farm to table (T3.3-5.b)
  • Explain the practices of safe food handling preparation, and storage (T3.3-5.e)
  • Identify food sources of required food nutrients (T3.3-5.g)

Plants and Animals for Food, Fiber & Energy

  • Provide examples of specific ways farmers meet the needs of animals (T2.3-5.d)

Education Content Standards

Within HEALTH

Health Standard 1: Comprehend concepts related to health promotion and disease prevention to enhance health.

  • 1.5.1
    1.5.1
    Describe the relationship between healthy behaviors and personal health.

Health Standard 7: Demonstrate the ability to practice health-enhancing behaviors and avoid or reduce health risks.

  • 7.5.1
    7.5.1
    Identify responsible personal health behaviors.

Within SCIENCE

3-LS4: Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity

  • 3-LS4-3
    3-LS4-3
    Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.

4-LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes

  • 4-LS1-1
    4-LS1-1
    Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.

Common Core Connections

Reading: Anchor Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1
    Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.4
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.4
    Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7
    Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

Speaking and Listening: Anchor Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1
    Prepare 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.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2
    Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.4
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.4
    Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

Writing: Anchor Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.2
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.2
    Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.4
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.4
    Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.7
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.7
    Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

 

Creative Commons License