National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
3 - 5
Three 45 minute sessions plus optional activity
Students will measure the weight and length or circumference of various vegetables. After studying the vegetables, students will classify the vegetables based on plant parts and explore chemical reactions from cooking colored vegetables in acidic and basic water. Students will also use a variety of vegetables to prepare soup.
- For the teacher: 1 paring knife.
- For each group: 1 food scale, 1 broccoli piece, 1 celery stalk, 1 lettuce leaf, 1 green pepper, 1 potato.
- For each student: 1 hand lens, 1 measuring tape (or use string and a ruler).
- Vegetable Jungle handout
- Stating the Facts About Vegetables handout
- For the teacher: Double burner hot plate, 2 pots (A and B), liquid measuring cup, tablespoon, 2 slotted spoons, 3 strong plates (Labeled A, B and C), 8 cups of water, 3 tablespoons of vinegar, 3 tablespoons of baking soda, 3 raw broccoli pieces, 3 raw carrot pieces, 3 red cabbage leaves, 3 small chunks of white onion.
- Vegetable Rainbow handout
- Color Changes in Acids and Bases handout
- For the teacher: Single or double burner hot plate, large pot, large stirring spoon, 1 set measuring spoons, can opener, 6 cups tomato juice, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon oregano, 16-ounce can diced new potatoes, 16-ounce can carrots, 16-ounce can corn, 16-ounce can green beans. Note: Instead of using canned vegetables, you could use frozen diced potatoes, frozen carrots, frozen corn and frozen green beans. Optional: Basil, garlic, parsley, onion flakes, red pepper, brown sugar.
- For each student: 1 spoon, 1 cup or bowl (foam or other heat stable product),
- Eating Vegetables handout,
- Scientific Soup handout.
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
- Math Enrichment Activity Key
- Teacher Answer Keys
- Growing It! Math Enrichment Activity
- Student Handouts
acid: a chemical compound that tastes sour
base: a chemical compound that tastes bitter
chemical reaction: when two materials mix and react to make something new (sometimes good, sometimes bad)
pigment: the material inside a plant that makes it colorful
root: a plant part that grows underground and can be eaten
vegetable: a leaf stem or root of a plant used for food
vitamins and minerals: the substances in food that our bodies need to be healthy and to use energy
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
- To introduce this lesson, ask students, "What is a vegetable?" Allow students to offer their ideas and draw on their prior knowledge.
- Ask students to name the parts of a plant. As students list the stem, root, leaves and flower, draw a simple sketch on the board of a plant using these primary plant parts.
- Display the broccoli, lettuce, asparagus, green pepper, and potato (that you will use for Activity #1) for your students to see. Ask students if any of those vegetables resemble the basic parts of a plant.
- Help students match the vegetables to the plant part. Help them see that asparagus is a stem, lettuce is a leaf, potatoes are roots, and broccoli and green peppers develop from a flower.
Activity 1: Vegetable Jungle
Scientific Inquiry: Stating the Facts About Vegetables
- Read Vegetable Jungle and complete the Doodle Bugs.
- Pass out vegetables, giving each group a broccoli piece, celery stalk, lettuce leaf, green pepper and potato. Alternatively, you may set up stations for each vegetable and have students rotate as a group from one station to the next.
- Students will measure the vegetables’ weights using the scale and lengths or circumferences using the measuring tape. Remind students to include units (centimeters or inch and grams or ounces) when recording measurements in the Vegetable Facts table.
- After measurements are complete, cut the vegetables in half.
- Instruct students to use their hand lenses to study the inside and outside of each vegetable and record the color, size and shape under “appearance” in the table.
- Discuss the classification of each vegetable. “What group does the vegetable belong in? Does this vegetable grow below or above ground? Does it contain seeds? How did you know it belonged in the root, stem, leaf, flower, or fruit group?”
- Instruct students to complete the Vegetable Facts table.
Activity 2: Vegetable Rainbow
Scientific Inquiry: Color Changes in Acids and Bases
- Place two pots on a double burner. Have students measure and pour 4 cups of water into each pot. Bring the water to a boil.
- Read Vegetable Rainbow and complete the Doodle Bugs while the water heats.
- Have students carefully measure and add three tablespoons of vinegar (acid) to pot A and three tablespoons of baking soda (base) to pot B.
- Use the slotted spoons to stir the water in each pot.
- Use the slotted spoon to gently add a piece of each kind of vegetable to pot A and to pot B. Place remaining raw vegetables on plate C (C=raw).
- After the color changing reaction occurs, remove the vegetables from the water and place on corresponding plates (plate A = acid, plate B = base). Allow students to observe the color changes.
- Compare the raw pieces to the cooked pieces. “What colors are the raw vegetables, the vegetables cooked in an acid, the vegetables cooked in a base? Which vegetable changed colors the most, the least? Did the vegetables change colors more or less in the acidic water or basic water? Did the color changing reactions happen slowly or quickly? Would you want to eat broccoli cooked in the acidic water? Why or why not?”
- Instruct students to complete the Color Facts table and final question.
Activity 3: Eating Vegetables
Scientific Inquiry: Scientific Soup
- Begin by placing your large pot on the hot plate burner. Add the tomato juice. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat so the broth simmers (little bubbles).
- Read Eating Vegetables and complete the Doodle Bugs.
- Next, have students carefully measure and add one teaspoon of pepper and one teaspoon of oregano.
- Allow students to help add the potatoes, carrots, corn and green beans.
- Student helpers may take turns stirring the soup.
- Direct your students to smell the soup and decide as a class if they want to add additional spices.
- With your guidance, students can decide how much of each spice to add. Allow students to measure and carefully add the extra spices.
- Let the soup simmer for five minutes.
- While the soup is simmering, discuss the variety of vegetables used (colors and types). In addition, you can explain the three components of soup: liquid (broth or juice), seasoning/spices and chunks of vegetables, meat, noodles, rice, etc.
- Students may then begin brainstorming their own personal soup creation.
- Serve soup in cups or bowl (not paper). Then let students try the soup.
- Instruct students to rate their soup using the smiley face scale.
- Next, students will create their own kind of soup and record the steps under My Soup Creation. Ask probing questions to help students with their soup creations. “What did you like best about our soup? What did you not like? What did we do or add first? What liquid would you use, tomato juice, chicken broth, beef broth? What did we add next? Would you make your soup spicier by adding chili powder & red pepper? Would you add any vegetables, meat, noodles, rice, beans?”
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation
After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:
- Vegetables area an important part of a healthy diet.
- Vegetables come from plants. They could be the stem, leaves, or root of the plant.
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!
Growing It! Complete the math enrichment activity using the attached worksheets. Students will learn about growing a garden. Students will calculate the correct pH balance in soils.
Farmer's Market Tour: Arrange a tour of your community's farmers' market in the fall or spring to observe the variety of food items farmers have produced. Assign students to talk with the farmers to learn more about what they do. If a real tour is not possible, have students do a virtual tour online or invite one or more local farmers to talk about their role and the work they do in your community.
Suggested Companion Resources
- Farmers Market (Book)
- Oliver's Vegetables (Book)
- Stinky and Stringy: Stem & Bulb Vegetables (Plants We Eat) (Book)
- What is a Fruit? What is a Vegetable? Bulletin Boards (Poster, Map, Infographic)
- Eat Happy Project video series (Multimedia)
- Edible Gardening: Growing Your Own Vegetables, Fruits, and More (Teacher Reference)
- The Science of Cooking (Website)
Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
Food, Health, and Lifestyle
- Describe the necessary food components of a healthy diet using the current dietary guidelines (T3.3-5.a)
Education Content Standards
3-LS3: Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits
3-LS3-1Analyze the interpret data to provide evidence that plants and animals have traits inherited from parents and that variation of these traits exists in a group of similar organisms.
4-LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
4-LS1-1Construct 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.4Interpret 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.
Speaking and Listening: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1Prepare 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.
Mathematics: Practice Standards
CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP1Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. Students start by explaining to themselves the meaning of a problem and looking for entry points to its solution. They analyze givens, constraints, relationships, and goals. They make conjectures about the form and meaning of the solution and plan a solution pathway rather than simply jumping into a solution attempt. They consider analogous problems, and try special cases and simpler forms of the original problem in order to gain insight into its solution. They monitor and evaluate their progress and change course if necessary. Students check their answers to problems using a different method, and they continually ask themselves, “Does this make sense?” They can understand the approaches of others to solving complex problems and identify correspondences between different approaches.
CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP4Model with mathematics. Students can apply the mathematics they know to solve problems arising in everyday life, society, and the workplace. Students who can apply what they know are comfortable making assumptions and approximations to simplify a complicated situation, realizing that these may need revision later. They are able to identify important quantities in a practical situation and map their relationships using such tools as diagrams, two-way tables, graphs, flowcharts and formulas. They can analyze those relationships mathematically to draw conclusions.
CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP6Attend to precision. Students try to communicate precisely to others. They try to use clear definitions in discussion with others and in their own reasoning. They state the meaning of the symbols they choose, including using the equal sign consistently and appropriately. They are careful about specifying units of measure, and labeling axes to clarify the correspondence with quantities in a problem. They calculate accurately and efficiently, express numerical answers with a degree of precision appropriate for the problem context.