National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
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A Garden Plot: The Tale of Peter Rabbit
K - 2
Four 20-minute story-reading sessions, Five 40-minute sessions, Ten 10-minute garden care and journaling sessions
In this lesson, students will identify foods grown in a garden, observe various types of seed, and grow their own "milk jug" garden. Students will hear the Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter and learn about produce that is grown in gardens or on farms.
Interest Approach – Engagement:
- Books by Beatrix Potter
- Markers, crayons, colored pencils, pastels, water colors, or gel pens
Activity 1: Let's Read Some Books
- The Tale of Peter Rabbit and other books by Beatrice Potter
Activity 2: Rabbits
- "Bunny Hop" music and music player (optional)
- Broad-tipped markers in assorted colors
- Food for "Rabbit Food Taste Test"- Parsley, Lettuce, Carrots with tops, beets, radishes, peas
- Masking Tape
Activity 3: The Garden
- Butcher paper
- Clear contact paper or laminating equipment
- Index Cards (unlined)
- Colored Pencils
- Duct tape or masking tape
- One-gallon plastic milk jugs with top cut off (1 per student)
- Seed packets with seeds such as pumpkin, zucchini, radish, turnip, carrot, basil, and parsley
- Sunny outdoor location for gardens
- Tongue depressors
- Watering equipment
Beatrix Potter: a children's book author
garden: an area of land for the use of growing fruits, vegetables and flowers
fruit: the sweet and fleshy product of a tree or other plant that contains seed and can be eaten as food
vegetable: a plant or portion of a plant used as food, typically the stem, leaves, or root
grain: wheat or other cultivated cereal crops used as food
Did you know? (Ag Facts)
- Bees are helpful to gardens to pollinate plants. They also can tell us when it might rain because they will return to their hive.1
- There are many types of gardens. Some gardens grow fruits and vegetables to eat, but other gardens grow flowers or are designed to attract butterflies. 1
- Children who have participated in growing a garden are more likely to eat healthy foods like fruits and vegetables.2
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
- Share information about a very special author, Beatrix Potter. Some facts about her life are stated in the Background Agricultural Connections section of the lesson. Other information about Beatrix Potter can be obtained from her books.
- Without reading the stories, show the students a couple of Beatrix Potter storybooks. Allow students to observe her artwork and the medium she used for her drawings. Mention that illustrators choose which medium they would like to work with—pastels, crayons, water colors, etc.
- Distribute one piece of unlined white paper to each student. Have the children select a medium for their artwork (crayons, markers, gel pens, pastels, colored pencils) and then draw a picture of an animal they might use as a character in a book they author.
Activity One: Let's Read Some Books
- Throughout the next week, read and discuss several of Beatrix Potter's books including The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
- After reading each story, select a language arts topic to develop with your students. Have the children:
- Point to details they see in pictures.
- State descriptive words they heard in the story.
- Identify the front cover, back cover, title page, author, and illustrator of the book. Point to upper and lower case letters you are working on.
- Show classmates specific words you ask them to find on a page.
- Tell you which parts of the story could be real and which parts are pretend.
Activity Two: Rabbits
- Make a scatter graph of things your students already know about rabbits.
- If possible, invite 4-H or FFA rabbit owners to share their rabbits with your class. Discuss eating habits, diet, breeds, behaviors and care. Perhaps one of your students has a rabbit that can be brought to class.
- Teach and practice the "Bunny Hop" dance routine.
- Have a Rabbit Food Taste Test where the children try different kinds of rabbit food (lettuce, parsley, etc.). Record taste test results on graphs you prepare similar to the diagram below.
- Discuss why rabbits are mammals and the characteristics of all mammals.
- Conclude this activity by making a list of new information the students have learned about rabbits
Activity Three: The Garden
- Ask students, "What do we need to grow a garden?" "What will we grow in our garden?"
- Make a scatter graph of items that can be grown in a garden.
- Make a list of items the students need in order to plant a garden.
At a learning station with a parent volunteer, have the children observe various types of seeds they could plant in their gardens. Seeds may include pumpkin, zucchini, radish, turnip, carrot, and parsley. Possible discussion topics are stated below:
- Discuss seed size and seed shape. What do they look like? What do they smell like?
- Is there a relationship between seed size and plant size?
- Which packages contain the most seeds? The least seeds?
- What are some benefits and challenges with planting small seeds? Large seeds?
Making the Garden
- Assist students in making individual gardens.
- Distribute one container, a bottom of a water or milk jug, to each student.
- Have the students choose two types of seeds to plant in their personal gardens.
- Have students make plant stakes for each seed they will plant by drawing a picture of the item on an index card with colored pencils. Attach a tongue depressor to the back of the index card with duct or masking tape. If you would like, laminate the stakes or cover them with clear contact paper. Set these aside for later use.
- As a class, prepare the soil by mixing top soil, manure (sterilized), sand, and vermiculite. Speak with a local nursery about the quantities of each or buy a ready mix of potting soil. While preparing the soil, ask:
- "How does the sand feel? The vermiculite? The manure?"
- "Is soil made of only one type of substance?"
- "If you were digging in the soil in a farm field, what might you find?"
- At planting time, have each student place about 2" of gravel at the bottom of his or her container (gravel from the play yard will do) and then fill the remainder of the container with the prepared soil (about 6" deep). Make sure that the students do not fill the containers so high that the soil will run off when watered.
- Using parent volunteers, have the students plant the seeds. The parents should teach the students how each particular seed needs to be planted, watered, etc. The plant stakes should be added at this time.
- Have the children begin each day by putting their gardens outside in the sunlight, checking to see if the garden needs watering, and then watering if necessary.
Journaling and Discussing
- Each morning the students should draw and/or write in their journals. Encourage the proper use of periods, exclamation points, capitalization, and pronouns. Teachers and parents can assist the students with journal-writing at various times during the "season." Journal entry topics may include:
- What I Have Done Today?
- What is Happening in My Garden?
- How My Garden is Like a Farm.
- Why My Garden is Different Than a Farm.
- Class word lists can be made to assist in journal-writing. A word list example is shown below:
- Daily, have a discussion on a specific topic. Suggested topics are listed below.
- What needs to be done to protect the garden plants from pests such as bugs, rabbits, birds, and mold?
- What are roots for? Why do they grow down?
- Why do plants wilt?
- Why do plants need sun? Or do they?
- What happens if one adds too much water?
- What happens if plants are too close together?
- Are the leaves of all plants alike?
- Do all seeds sprout?
- What does a plant need to survive?
- Does air temperature affect plants?
- What seeds are growing the fastest? Why do you think they are growing the fastest?
- After about three or four weeks, allow the children to take their journals and gardens home. Some of the plants can be transplanted into family gardens. Smaller plants, such as radishes, can remain in the container and placed in a well lit area. Take in the looks of pride as children walk out of school with their gardens... all because of Peter Rabbit!
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation
After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:
- Many types of plants are grown for food. They include fruits, vegetables, and grains.
- Plants grow in the soil and require water, warmth, and sunshine.
- Plants can be grown in a small garden or on a large farm.
- Many farmers grow the fruits and vegetables we eat.
Invite a produce manager from a local grocery store to perform taste tests with the children.
Make a Peter Rabbit salad for a luncheon treat.
Invite other classes and administrators to visit your students' gardens.
Have the students measure and record the length of their plants.
Invite farmers to speak to your class about commodities they grow.
Make a scarecrow for the garden.
Take digital pictures of the children with their gardens. Give one picture to each child who will write a sentence about it. Compile and make a class book.
Show a video of The Tale of Peter Rabbit and compare and contrast the video and book.
Use donated seeds from nurseries and make mosaics.
Suggested Companion Resources
- A Gardener's Alphabet (Book)
- Eating the Alphabet (Book)
- First Garden (Book)
- First Peas to the Table (Book)
- Plants Feed Me (Book)
- The Tale of Peter Rabbit (Book)
- The Tiny Seed (Book)
- The Vegetable Alphabet Book (Book)
- Tops & Bottoms (Book)
- Dwarf "Space Plant" Seeds (Kit)
- Utah Garden Planner (Kit)
- Build Your Own GrowLite (Teacher Reference)
- School Gardens: A Guide for Gardening and Plant Science (Teacher Reference)
Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
Food, Health, and Lifestyle
- Recognize that agriculture provides our most basic necessities: food, fiber, energy and shelter (T3.K-2.b)
Plants and Animals for Food, Fiber & Energy
- Explain how farmers work with the lifecycle of plants and animals (planting/breeding) to harvest a crop (T2.K-2.a)
- Identify examples of feed/food products eaten by animals and people (T2.K-2.c)
Agriculture and the Environment
- Describe the importance of soil and water in raising crops and livestock (T1.K-2.b)
Education Content Standards
Health Standard 7: Demonstrate the ability to practice health-enhancing behaviors and avoid or reduce health risks.
7.2.1Demonstrate healthy practices and behaviors to maintain or improve personal health.
K-ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
K-ESS3-1Use a model to represent the relationship between the needs of different plants or animals (including humans) and the places they live.
Common Core Connections
Reading: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.3Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
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.
Language: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.1Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
Writing: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.10Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.2Write 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.3Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.4Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.7Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.