National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
Search Lesson Plans & Companion Resources
3 - 5
Three to four 45-minute sessions
Students will read the novel; Esperanza Rising written by Pam Munoz Ryan, to learn more about migrant workers, agricultural economics, the impact of agriculture to rural communities, agricultural history and how fruits and vegetables have been harvested historically and are harvested currently.
- California Agricultural Fact and Activity Sheets
- 3" x 5" Index Cards
- Drawing Paper
- Colored Pencils
- Modeling clay
- Poster Board
- Access to the Internet for research
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
family farms: farm owned and/or operated by a family of individuals related by blood, marriage, or adoption. The majority of farms (87%) in the USA are owned and operated by families.
Did you know? (Ag Facts)
- The majority (72%) of all farm workers are not born in the United States.
- 68% of farm workers in the United States were born in Mexico.
- There are more men farm workers than women.
- Farmers rely on farm workers to complete many tasks on the farm and compensate them with money for their time, housing for their families, and daily necessities to keep them working on the farm.
- There are many laws in place to keep farm workers safe and making money for their families such as the Fair Labor Standards Act or Occupational Safety and Health Act.
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
- Ask students to name their favorite fruits and vegetables. Connect to student prior knowledge by surveying their likes and dislikes of the crops produced in the novel Esperanza Rising: grapes, figs, onions, plums, papayas, guavas, cantaloupes, almonds, potatoes, avocados, asparagus, peaches.
- Ask students what they know about each of the crops. Do they know where they are grown? Where and when are they harvested? How are they harvested? Do they know any of the nutritional value of these crops? Are these crops economically important to the growers and the states that produce them?
- Tell the students they will be reading an excerpt from Esperanza Rising. The novel is an example of historical fiction. Briefly discuss what this means. Guide the discussion if needed; however explain that the story is based on real events, a real setting with real people regarding a farm family in the early 20th Century. Ask the students: "Do you know any farming families in your community? What do you see growing on farms in your community? Do you know of someone in your family that works on a farm? What kind of work have you seen happening on a farm?"
- Next, discuss the importance of agriculture in the community and how farm families migrated to more fertile land in the past for growing crops such as grapes.
- Show the video, Grape expectations: Delicious California-grown table grapes. Ask the students: "What kind of grapes do you like to eat?" "What did you learn new from the video about growing grapes?" "What part of the United States are grapes mostly grown?" "What foods do we eat or drink that contain grapes?" "How are grapes harvested?"
- Place students in small groups of two. Ask them to "Partner Read" an excerpt from the chapter on grapes, (excerpt is also attached to this lesson.)
- Note: Partner reading is a practice used by teachers instructing a two-person team alternating reading aloud to one another while switching each time there is a new paragraph. An alternative to reading out loud separately, the two-person team can choose to read at the same time.
- Give the students the Discussion Questions below, or create a few of your own, and ask them to choose and answer three questions out of the 6 on a 3" x 5" index card. It is important to encourage the students to answer in their own words and not their peers.
- Who is your favorite character? Why?
- What is a vineyard? What does a vineyard produce?
- Where does Esperanza live?
- Describe the geographical setting - what is it like where Esperanza lives?
- What is a wild tendril?
- What does Papa mean when he said, "Our land is alive?"
- Ask students to go to an area in the classroom and sit in a circle for a Text, Talk, and Time discussion. Have them bring their copy of Esperanza Rising and their responses to their three chosen Discussion Questions from Activity 1.
- Refer to the Text, Talk, and Time Chart to emphasize the rules of this strategy. To see a demonstration, watch this Text, Talk, and Time strategy video. Rule reminder:
- Thumbs up: Share new information
- Two fingers: Add to an answer
- Teacher's hand up: Students are quiet, the next question is asked
- Have the students return to their small groups.
- After reading the excerpt, have the students visualize the geographical setting. Think, Pair, and Share.
- While only using the excerpt reading, ask the students, "What do you wonder?" "What do you now infer?" "What would the front cover of "Esperanza Rising" look like?" Share your thoughts with the group members.
- Now tell the students they can choose, based on their preferred learning style, to create a book cover for Esperanza Rising. Separate the students into three main groups; visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. The visual group of students will be asked to draw an image, auditory group of students will discuss the image and kinesthetic group of students will create a small model of what the cover will look like. Hand out the needed supplies for each group; drawing paper, markers, colored pencils, and modeling clay.
- Allow each group of students to share out while you make a list of specific details that each group focused on in drawing, describing, and creating their image for the book cover.
- Find the statistics of grape production off of your state department's agriculture webpage. Also emphasize the number of farm workers it takes to manage and harvest the grapes from the vineyard in addition to the amount of labor. Find the statistic of family owned farms in your state and what that percentage of them grow grapes.
- Tell students that they are going to become experts on a specific crop from the book Esperanza Rising. Randomly select or allow groups (pairs or groups of three depending on the size of the class) of students to choose one of the crops.
- Using either poster board or a technology tool such as Glogster, ask students to use the California Agricultural Fact and Activity Sheets or other online sites to develop a visual presentation they can share with others (students, parents, or community members). The poster (paper or online) should include basic information about how the plant grows, when it is planted, how it is harvested, and how people prepare or consume the crop to meet nutritional needs. Students should also add some cool facts or things that are really interesting about the crop. In addition to the visual product created, ask student to prepare to present to others what they have learned.
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation
After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:
- Farms are important for providing the food that we eat, including fruits, vegetables, grain, and meat.
- Producing our food takes a lot of work. Some work is performed by machines and other work has to be completed by hand.
- Farm workers are very important and valuable. Sometimes they come from other countries to work.
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!
Give the students a writing prompt that involves the life of a farm worker living in the United States. For example: Today, I worked in the field picking and harvesting___________. (watermelons, grapes, sweet potatoes, or strawberries). Choices of commodities should be given that are grown in the state where students live.
Suggested Companion Resources
- A Seedy Fruit Challenge (Activity)
- An Orange in January (Book)
- Ancient Agriculture (Book)
- Carlos and the Cornfield (Book)
- Everybody Cooks Rice (Book)
- Mama Provi and the Pot of Rice (Book)
- This Land Is Your Land (Book)
- Agricultural Commodity & Natural Resource Fact Sheets (Poster, Map, Infographic)
- What is a Fruit? What is a Vegetable? Bulletin Boards (Poster, Map, Infographic)
- Food and Farm Facts Booklet (Booklets & Readers)
- State Agricultural Facts (Website)
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)
Education Content Standards
K-4 Geography Standard 11: The patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth's surface.
Objective 1People engage in economic activities, such as producing goods and offering services, in order to earn a living.
K-4 Geography Standard 12: The processes, patterns, and functions of human settlement.
Objective 2Settlements occur where locations provide opportunities and therefore advantages.
K-4 Geography Standard 17: How to apply geography to interpret the past.
Objective 1Geographic contexts (the human and physical characteristics of places and environments) are the settings for events in the past.
K-4 History Standard 1A: Family life now and in the recent past; family life in various places long ago.
Objective 5Compare and contrast family life now with family life in the local community or state long ago by considering such things as roles, jobs, communication, technology, style of homes, transportation, schools, religious observances, and cultural traditions.
K-4 History Standard 3D: The interactions among groups throughout the history of his or her state.
Objective 6Investigate the influence of geography on the history of the state or region and identify issues and approaches to problems such as land use and environmental problems.
K-4 History Standard 5A: Demonstrate understanding of the movements of large groups of people into his or her own and other states in the United States now and long ago.
Objective 4Identify reasons why groups such as freed African Americans, Mexican and Puerto Rican migrant workers, and Dust Bowl farm families migrated to various parts of the country.
NCSS 2: Time, Continuity, and Change
Objective 1The study of the past is the story of communities, nations, and the world.
Objective 3That we can learn our personal past and the past of communities, nations, and the world by means of stories, biographies, interviews, and original sources, such as documents, letters, photographs, and artifacts.
Common Core Connections
Reading: Anchor Standards