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Food for Thought Lesson Plans

A Journey Around Minnesota

Grade Level

Grades K-2


Students will build awareness of agricultural products through literacy, math, and mapping activities. Students will learn about the connection between farms and products they use in their everyday lives.


Two 30-minute class periods

Activity 1
Activity 2
  • "The Year At Maple Hill Farm," by Alice and Martin Provensen
Activity 3
  • Crops: plants farmers grow and sell
  • Map: a drawing of an area that shows its important points or features
  • Relative Location Words: edge, up, down, left, right, near, far, back, in front of
Background—Agricultural Connections

Many Minnesotans have access to a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, dairy, and meat products. Each food item may have been produced on a nearby farm, in a neighboring county, from somewhere across the state, in a different state in the US, or from overseas locations. Foods are grown in precise locations due to their climate and growing conditions. This lesson looks at where agricultural plants and animals are grown in Minnesota.

Interest Approach - Engagement

Ask students

  • What are things you might find on a farm? (Record answers on the board or class chart) Some answers may include: animals, barn, silo, tractors, semis, hay wagons, vegetables, fruit, grain, etc.
  • Are all farms the same? (Have students share thoughts and tell them we will look at this question again at the end of the lesson.)
Activity 1
  1. Ask students if they know what a journey is?
    1. Explain that a journey is like a trip. Have students imagine or picture that today they are going to take an imaginary journey around Minnesota. Ask them what this may look like.
    2. Today, Aggy will be our tour guide (show example of Aggy to students). On our journey, we will see pictures of farm animals and crops such as wheat, corn, soybeans, sweet corn etc. in Minnesota. Explain that crops are plants farmers grow and sell.
  2. Show students the Agriculture is Everywhere placemat – Side 1. Point out the map of Minnesota in the center of the placemat. Ask students if they know what it is. Explain that this is a picture of what the state of Minnesota looks like. We call this a map because it is showing us what crops and animals can be located where in our state.
  3. Ask students the following questions: Do you think Minnesota is bigger or smaller than this picture? You can have students show you their thumbs to answer the questions. Thumbs up if you think it is bigger, thumbs down if you think it is smaller. (This helps them stay focused and all students are able to participate and stay engaged at the same time.) Explain that it is much bigger than this piece of paper. In fact, it is bigger than the classroom, the school, and even the playground. It is even bigger than the city they live in. You could also show them Minnesota on a United States map to explain more about Minnesota. Example: it is in North America, it is located between Wisconsin and North/South Dakota etc. Explain that this picture is made small so we can see the shape of our state and how it looks. Show students on the Minnesota map where their city is. Explain that there are several different farm animals and crops in Minnesota, and there are also thousands of cities and farms all throughout the state.
  4. Distribute one copy of the Agriculture is Everywhere placemat to each student. Give each student a paper copy of Aggy. Aggy will be the tour guide and students will move her to various places around on the map. It is recommended that teachers project a copy of the Agriculture is Everywhere placemat to use during the following activity.
Let's start our journey!
  1. Let's look at the top edge of our map of Minnesota. Find the yellow flower and place Aggy on it. Ask students the following questions:
    1. Is the flower on the right or left side of the map? It is on the left.
    2. What kind of plant is this? It is a sunflower.
    3. What kind of food do we get from sunflowers? We get sunflower seeds. Some farmers in Minnesota grow sunflowers to sell the sunflower seeds.
    4. When would someone use sunflower seeds? To eat and spit out the shell, to put on salads, to bake with, etc.
    5. If allowable and appropriate, have students taste sunflower seeds. They could also discuss the different flavors of sunflower seeds.
  2. Let's continue on our journey and go over to the farright edge of our map. Find the trees on the right side of the map and place Aggy the tour guide there. In this part of Minnesota there are numerous tree farms. Ask students the following:
    1. What is a tree farm? A place where people/farmers plant, care for and harvest trees
    2. Can you think of how we might use trees? Possible answers include firewood, paper, furniture,etc.
    3. What is made from trees in our classroom? Paper, pencils, books, wood furniture, etc.
  3. Now Aggy is taking us to the center of our map. Look at your map and find the large black and white cow and move your tour guide there. This is called a dairy cow. Ask students the following:
    1. What do you suppose a dairy cow is? A cow is a female (girl) that has had a baby (called a calf). Dairy cows make milk that we can drink and milk that is used to make many dairy foods.
    2. What types of food do you think comes from this type of dairy cow? Answers may include cheese, milk, ice cream.
  4. Aggy's next stop is very near the dairy cow. Find the fruit that is in front of the dairy cow's legs. It is so close that the cow could take a nice delicious bite out of it! Move Aggy to the fruit. Name the fruit that Aggy is on: An apple. Some farmers in Minnesota have apple orchards where they grow apple trees. (Could show students a picture of an apple orchard.) Ask students the following:
    1. Where do apples come from?
    2. What color are apples?
    3. Are there different tastes for different colored apples?
    4. What is your favorite kind/color of apple and why?
    5. If appropriate, have students taste several different varieties of apples grown in Minnesota and discuss the differences in appearance and taste.
  5. Ask students to look at their maps. Do you see another place in Minnesota where there is an apple? Aggy will give you a hint. Move down to the bottom of your map. Now go to the right. Do you see the other apple? Move Aggy here. This is another apple orchard in Minnesota. Has anyone ever been to an apple orchard?
  6. Did you notice there is another dairy cow near this apple orchard? Aggy's hint: It is to the left of the apple. Move Aggy to the dairy cow to the left of this apple
  7. For our final stop we will be traveling to the very edge of Minnesota. Move Aggy to the left side of Minnesota until you are on the sheep. Some farmers raise sheep. Do you know what we get from sheep? We get wool to make sweaters and scarves and mittens. (If you have wool socks, sweater, blankets, etc. you could bring these in and show the students and also so the students could see and feel it.)

Teachers can have students suggest other areas that Aggy can go to. Ask them to explain how to get there using relative location words.


Examine the class chart created at the beginning of the lesson. After following Aggy on a journey through Minnesota, did you find any different farm items we could add to our list?

Are all farms alike? (No, they grow different crops. They have different animals. Accept other observations from students.) Ask students what they would like to raise on their farm.

Activity 2
  1. Tell students we will be reading a story called, "The Year At Maple Hill Farm," by Alice and Martin Provensen. In this story we will learn about life on a farm through all of the seasons.
  2. Ask students the following questions before reading the book:
    1. How many months are in a year? (12) – Say the months together. List the months from January to December on the board and have students tell you when their birthday is or their favorite month of the year. Explain that each January begins a new year.
    2. Ask students to list the four seasons each year. (Winter, Fall, Spring, Summer) Again, you can ask them what their favorite season is and why. You can also play a game and describe a season or something you do during that season and have them guess what season you are talking about. Examples: I like to swim in my pool. I like to have hot chocolate. I like to go to a baseball game, I like to help plant flowers. I ride in the combine during this month, etc.
    3. Ask students what month and season it is now and have them explain how they know.
    4. Tell students to listen for the months and seasons as you read and how life on the farm changes. They could raise their hand, or clap every time they hear you say a season.
  3. Read the story: "The Year at Maple Hill Farm" by Alice and Martin Provensen. Suggest students that they pay special attention to the details of the story as you will be asking them questions when completed.
  4. After reading:
    1. What are some things that changed on the farm throughout this story?
    2. What season/months do chickens lay fewer eggs? The most?
    3. In March, many new animals are born at Maple Hill Farm. Let's go back and count how many baby animals were born in March. (1 foal, 1 calf, 3 kittens, 2 lambs, 1 new kid. A total of 8. This would be a good time to talk about the different names for baby animals.)
    4. In May, the sheep is shorn. What does this mean? (It gets a haircut by shaving off its wool.) Do you remember how we use wool? (to make things like sweaters, heats, scarves, etc. to keep us warm.) Chickens molt. What do you think this means? (shed their feathers so new feathers can grow.)
    5. In the month of June we read about some of the food the farm animals eat. List some animals that eat grass. (cows, sheep, goats, horses, geese, chickens. Chickens also eat insects.)
    6. How is hay used on the farm? (for animals to eat)
    7. Are all farms the same? (No, some farms might be like Maple Hill, but many farms are more specialized and do not have as many different types of animals. They may raise chickens, turkeys, beef cattle, or dairy cattle, sheep, etc. Other farms grow crops such as corn, wheat, soybeans, etc. and have very few farm animals.)
Activity 3 – Aggy Goes to the Farm
  1. Distribute one copy of the "Aggy Goes to the Farm" to each student. Give each student a paper copy of Aggy. It is recommended that teachers project a copy of "Aggy Goes to the Farm" to use during this activity.
  2. Direct students to place Aggy at the barn. Tell students to move Aggy to an animal that is close to the barn door. (Possible answers: goats, chickens, pigs.)
  3. Direct students to move Aggy to a group of four animals. (Possible answers: cows or pigs) Ask students how many animals would be in the group if we added another cow or pig to the group of 4? (5)
  4. Ask students to move Aggy to the left of the barn and place on a group of 5 animals. What group of animals is Aggy visiting now? (chickens) Ask students how many chickens would be in the group if one more chicken joined the group? (6) Or if you took one away? Two away? What food do we get from chicken? (Possible answers: eggs or any food containing chicken meat: chicken sandwich, chicken fingers, etc.)
  5. Move Aggy to a group of animals that are running. Hint: this is an animal you can ride on. (horses) Which direction did Aggy travel to move to the horses (right or left)? (right) How many horses are there? (3) What if we added one more? Two more? Or what if we took one away? Two away? Is three an even or odd number and how do you know? (odd)
  6. How many pigs are there altogether at the farm? (6) How do you know? (Possible answers: I counted them, 4+2=6) They could also come up with a number story such as: There were four pigs on the farm, and I bought two more. How many are there altogether?)

Teachers can continue to pose similar problems as desired or ask students to present problems for the class to solve using "Aggy Goes to the Farm".

If desired, teachers can have students complete the "Adding Up the Animals" worksheet. The second page is left blank for teachers to pose problems using the "Aggy Goes to the Farm" visual and have students write and solve corresponding number sentences.

Did you know? (Ag Facts)
  • Chickens and turkeys do not have teeth. They use their beaks to pick up food.
  • An acre is about the size of a football field.
  • Real Christmas trees are grown on Minnesota farms just like other crops.
Enriching Activities
  • Explore how farm products become the things we eat through read alouds. Read aloud the book, "Milk to Ice Cream," by Lisa Herrington. This book demonstrates the process of producing ice cream beginning with the farm.
  • Show the video "A Day on the Farm". This highlights a day on a dairy farm in Ohio.
Minnesota Academic Standards
Social Studies - Geography Describe spatial information depicted in simple drawings and pictures.
For example: While looking at a picture, the student says, "The boy is in front of the house. The house is at the edge of the woods." Other words describing spatial information in a picture include up, down, left, right, near, far, back, in front of. Describe a map and a globe as a representation of a space. Use relative location words and absolute location words to identify the location of a specific place; explain why or when it is important to use absolute versus relative location.
For example: Relative location words—near, far, left, right. Absolute location words—street address (important for emergencies, mail).


K.1.1.1 Recognize that a number can be used to represent how many objects are in a set or to represent the position of an object in a sequence.
For example: Count students standing in a circle and count the same students after they take their seats. Recognize that this rearrangement does not change the total number, but may change the order in which students are counted.

K.1.1.4 Find a number that is 1 more or 1 less than a given number. Use words, pictures, objects, length-based models (connecting cubes), numerals and number lines to model and solve addition and subtraction problems in part-part-total, adding to, taking away from and comparing situations.

Common Core Connections
Grade 1 Reading: Literature

Ask and answer questions about key details in a text.

Common Core Math

Write numbers from 0 to 20. Represent a number of objects with a written numeral 0-20 (with 0 representing a count of no objects).

When counting objects, say the number names in the standard order, pairing each object with one and only one number name and each number name with one and only one object.

Understand that the last number name said indicates the number of objects counted. The number of objects is the same regardless of their arrangement or the order in which they were counted.

Understand that each successive number name refers to a quantity that is one larger.

Add within 100, including adding a two-digit number and a one-digit number, and adding a two-digit number and a multiple of 10, using concrete models or drawings and strategies based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction; relate the strategy to a written method and explain the reasoning used. Understand that in adding two-digit numbers, one adds tens and tens, ones and ones; and sometimes it is necessary to compose a ten.