• Newsletter
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube

educator center

Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix

Search Lesson Plans & Companion Resources

Who Grew My Soup? (Grades 3-5)

Grade Level(s)

3 - 5

Estimated Time

Three 45-minute sessions


Students will identify the source of the food they eat and investigate the processes and people involved in getting food from the farm to their spoon.


Activity 1: Food/Farm Connection

  • Who Grew My Soup? by Tom Darbyshire*
  • Fact Wheel (make sure that the “Shrink oversized pages to paper size” setting is not checked when printing)
  • Food samples
  • Food/Farm Connection matching cards

*The Who Grew My Soup? book is available for purchase from agclassroomstore.com.

Activity 2: Where Does Your Food Come From?

  • Food item with product of origin label
  • Where Does My Food Come From? activity sheets

Activity 3: Graphing Activity

  • Examples of a fruit or vegetable in fresh, canned, frozen, and dried forms (enough for each student to sample)
  • Sticky notes

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

Essential Links


nutritious: having a large amount of vitamins, minerals, or other nutrients

edible: safe to be eaten as food

preserve: to prepare (food) so that it can be kept for a long period of time

processing: to change a raw product, such as food, to make it into a different type of product

Did you know? (Ag Facts)

  • The oldest known vegetable is the pea.1
  • Frozen foods were first introduced in the 1920s.2
  • Consomme` soup was developed by a royal chef in the 1700s so that the French King could see his own reflection in the bowl.3
  • The earliest evidence of our ancestors eating soup was 6000 B.C. It was hippopotamus soup!3

Background Agricultural Connections

When asked where their food comes from, many students will say that it comes from a grocery store or restaurant. Young children don’t always make the connection between agriculture and the food they consume every day.

One US farm produces enough food to feed 165 people worldwide, but farmers are not the only workers involved in making food available to the consumer.4 Agriculture employs more than 21 million American workers.5 These jobs include harvesting, storing, transporting, processing, packaging, and selling the food we eat. Farms are the source of almost all the food we consume. It is important for students to understand that grocery stores are food distribution centers, not the source of food.

Some of the food we eat everyday is grown in our own communities, but not all of the food we consume is grown locally. While most states produce their own milk, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and grains, the availability of certain foods depends upon season. The climate and soil of a particular region determines the types of foods that can be grown. Consumer demands influence the items that stores and restaurants offer. Many people want to be able to eat fresh fruits and vegetables in the middle of the winter or out of season. Exotic foods, such as star fruit, kiwi, and guava that are not grown in many areas of the United States are also desired. Grocery stores meet these demands by having food transported from other regions of the United States and even from other countries.

The activities in this lesson will help provide students with an understanding about where their food comes from and what it takes to produce their food. It will also promote a natural curiosity about how food affects their health while reinforcing food and agriculture as their connection to a better quality of life. Understanding what it takes to produce food will help students make the association between the land, farmers and ranchers, and the grocery store.

Interest Approach – Engagement

  1. Ask students to name their favorite kind of soup. Allow several children to answer. As each child answers, ask them what ingredients are used to make that soup. Make a list of the ingredients on the board.
  2. Begin discussing the source of each ingredient by asking students, "Where do these ingredients come from?"  
  3. Transition to Activity 1 by introducing the Who Grew My Soup? book. Explain to your students that they are going to read about a boy named Phin and the soup he eats.


Activity 1: Food/Farm Connection

  1. Read the book Who Grew My Soup? by Tom Darbyshire.
  2. Ask the students to create a list recalling the ingredients in Phin’s soup (carrots, tomatoes, green beans, celery, corn, barley, spinach, peas, onions, potatoes).
  3. Cut out and assemble the Fact Wheel. Each student can make their own Fact Wheel, or it can be assembled prior to the lesson (one for each group).
  4. Divide the class into 10 groups. Assign each group a food from the list. Give the groups enough time to match their food with the picture and information on the fact wheel. Provide a few samples of the ingredients for students to taste or observe while each group shares the facts about their food.
  5. Ask the students if they think all of the ingredients in Phin’s soup can be grown in our state? (Your response will depend on your location.) Ask the students if they think they can buy these ingredients locally grown all year long. Discuss what factors would affect the availability of locally grown food.
  6. Pass one Food/Farm Connection card to each student. Allow the students to walk around the classroom and find the student who has their matching card. The students should match the food item with its farm source (ex. oatmeal—oats, French fries—potatoes, eggs—chicken, applesauce—apples). Discuss the connections as a class.

 Activity 2: Where Does Your Food Come From? Product of Origin

  1. Prior to the activity, ask the students to find a food item with a product of origin label at home. (Be prepared with extra food and a computer at school for students who are unable to complete this assignment at home.) 
  2. Have each student complete the Where Does My Food Come From? activity sheet by using National Geographic’s Mapmaker Interactive to find the distance between their food’s country of origin and the town in which they live. Instructions are found on the activity sheet. This can be completed as a homework assignment or in school depending on computer access.
  3. As a class, locate the origin of each child’s food on a world map. Students can label each location on the activity sheet world map. Compare the distances and determine whose food traveled the farthest and shortest distances.
  4. Discuss the different ways the food could have traveled to a local grocery store (truck, airplane, train, boat, etc.). What steps need to be taken to ensure that the food doesn't spoil before arriving at the market?
  5. What are some possible reasons the food traveled so far? Discuss how the climate of a particular location affects what foods can be grown there.
  6. Identify the different jobs involved in getting food from the farm to the table (e.g., grower, harvester, truck driver, packagers, processors, warehouse operators, grocers, etc.).

Activity 3: Graphing Activity

  1. Bring examples of fruits and vegetables packaged in different ways (fresh, canned, frozen, dried).
  2. Give the students a sticky note that they will write their name on. Have students sample the same fruit or vegetable fresh, canned, frozen, and dried.
  3. Create a graph by writing fresh, canned, frozen, and dried on the bottom of the board. Explain that some foods may taste better cooked. Just because they don’t like a fresh raw green bean or tomato, does not mean they won’t like it cooked or prepared with other foods. The students will stack their sticky notes above their preference. Discuss the results.
  4. Brainstorm reasons why foods are packaged in different ways. Reinforce that foods are seasonal, and discuss how people’s choices are influenced by price. For example, apples are in season in Utah in the fall and during this time they are very inexpensive, so it makes sense for processors to dry them or can them as applesauce to be eaten at other times of the year.

Concept Elaboration and Evaluation

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

  • Agriculture provides our food, such as ingredients for soup.
  • Some foods can be grown or produced locally and others are produced far away and shipped to our local grocery stores.
  • Some foods require a specific climate to be grown. This is one reason why some foods travel a long distance to get to our grocery stores.

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!


Suggested Companion Resources

State Standards for Minnesota

Agricultural Literacy Outcomes

Culture, Society, Economy & Geography

  • Explain the value of agriculture and how it is important in daily life. (T5.3-5.d)
  • Provide examples of agricultural products available, but not produced in their local area and state (T5.3-5.e)
  • Understand the agricultural history of an individual’s specific community and/or state (T5.3-5.f)

Food, Health, and Lifestyle

  • Diagram the path of production for a processed product, from farm to table (T3.3-5.b)

Common Core Connections

Reading: Anchor Standards

    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.
    Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
    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.
    Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.

Mathematics: Practice Standards

    Reason abstractly and quantitatively. Students make sense of quantities and their relationships in problem situations. They bring two complementary abilities to bear on problems involving quantitative relationships: the ability to decontextualize—to abstract a given situation and represent it symbolically and manipulate the representing symbols as if they have a life of their own, without necessarily attending to their referents—and the ability to contextualize, to pause as needed during the manipulation process in order to probe into the referents for the symbols involved. Quantitative reasoning entails habits of creating a coherent representation of the problem at hand; considering the units involved; attending to the meaning of quantities, not just how to compute them; and knowing and flexibly using different properties of operations and objects.
    Model 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.
    Use appropriate tools strategically. Students consider the available tools when solving a mathematical problem. These tools might include pencil and paper, concrete models, a ruler, a protractor, a calculator, a spreadsheet, a computer algebra system, a statistical package, or dynamic geometry software. Students at various grade levels are able to identify relevant external mathematical resources, such as digital content located on a website, and use them to pose or solve problems. They are able to use technological tools to explore and deepen their understandings of concepts.

National Standards


Economics Standard 2: Decision Making

  • Objective
    Make effective decisions as consumers, producers, savers, investors, and citizens.


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

  • 7.5.2
    Demonstrate a variety of healthy practices and behaviors to maintain or improve personal health.


Consider submitting a lesson or companion resource to the National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix.
National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix (2013) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Creative Commons License