National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
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Nuts About Peanuts!
3 - 5
Students label the parts of a peanut plant on a diagram, follow step-by-step instructions to plant a peanut, and use a chart to record the growth of peanut plants.
- Peanut Plant activity sheet
- My Peanut Plant Growth Chart activity sheet
- Large, clear plastic drinking cups
- Small, round plastic or paper plates
- Sand or sandy loam soil
- 3-5 raw peanuts per student
- Note: These are available at health food stores. Peanuts that have been dry roasted or blanched will not sprout!
- Plastic spoons
- Permanent marker
- Paper towels
- Pen or pencil
- Several pots (12 inches in diameter) or a ten-gallon aquarium
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
- Peanut Plant Activity Sheet Key
- Peanut Plant Activity Sheet
- My Peanut Plant Growth Chart Activity Sheet
peanut: a plant in the pea family that bears the peanut, which develops in pods that ripen underground and are widely cultivated, especially in the southern US
Did you know? (Ag Facts)
- Four of the top 10 candy bars manufactured in the USA contain peanuts or peanut butter.
- Peanuts are one of the star ingredients in a Snickers bar and each bar contains about 16 peanuts. About 100 tons of peanuts go into making the 15 million Snickers bars that are produced by Mars, Inc. every day.
- Peanut butter/peanut paste is the leading use of peanuts produced in the U.S. (1/2); followed by snack nuts and in-shells (1/4); and, candy and confections (1/4).
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
- Ask your students if they can tell you what protein does for their bodies. Allow students to draw on their prior knowledge to recognize that protein helps build and repair muscles in their body.
- Ask your students, "What kind of foods contain lots of protein?" Students will likely list various meat products. Meat comes from animals and has an abundant supply of protein. Ask your students if they can think of a protein-rich food that comes from a plant. If students cannot guess, give them some or all of the following clues until they guess peanut butter:
- This food can be spread on bread.
- Many people like to eat it with apples, celery, or bananas.
- It is made by cooking and crushing a specific type of nut until it is a smooth and creamy texture.
- You can make a sandwich using this food, jelly, and bread.
- Explain to your students that peanut butter is a good source of protein in our diets. It is processed or made from peanuts. Today, your students are going to learn about the peanut!
- Read the information contained in the Background Agricultural Connections section of the lesson aloud to the students. Check student understanding by asking the assessment questions.
- Pass out the Peanut Plant activity sheet to students. As a group, label the parts of the peanut plant.
- Have the students follow these directions for planting peanut seeds. You may wish to demonstrate the steps as they follow along with their own cups. (Note: Peanut seeds should be soaked overnight before planting.)
- Get a cup. Write your name on it with a permanent marker.
- Make a small drainage hole in the bottom of your cup with a pen or pencil (with teacher’s help).
- Fill your cup with soil to within one inch of the top of the cup.
- Plant three to five peanuts about two inches deep in the soil. Press the soil firmly, but do not pack.
- Fold a paper towel into a square and moisten with water. Place the paper towel under the plastic cup.
- Then place your paper towel and cup on a paper or plastic plate.
- Place the cup and plate in a warm spot on a window sill.
- Record observations daily on “My Peanut Plant Growth” activity sheet.
- Keep plants in a warm room and expose them to as much direct sunlight as possible.
Questions for Investigation and Assessment:
- How do peanuts grow? (on a plant out of the ground and not on a tree)
- Describe what a peanut plant looks like. (green, ovalshaped leaves, plant about 18 inches tall)
- When does a farmer plant peanuts, and how long is the growing cycle? (plants in April or May; growing cycle is four to five months long)
- Name some states that grow peanuts. (Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Virginia, and Oklahoma)
- About how many uses for the peanut did Carver find? (Over 300)
- What is the name of the insect that threatened the cotton crop? (boll weevil)
- Name something Carver developed from peanuts. (Answers can include shaving cream, leather dye, coffee, ink, shoe polish)
- Review the books Spill the Beans and Pass the Peanuts by Meredith Sayles Hughes and A Pocketful of Goobers, the Story of George Washington Carver by Barbara Mitchell.
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!
Homemade Peanut Butter:
Have students enjoy peanut butter and crackers while they are completing the activities. Use the following recipe to make homemade peanut butter.
- Measure 1 cup of peanuts and put in a blender.
- Measure 1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil and put in blender.
- Cover and blend for approximately 3 minutes.
- Scrape sides of blender with a spoon and push peanuts to the bottom of the blender.
- Cover and blend for 3 more minutes.
- Scoop out of blender and enjoy on crackers or celery.
- Compare the homemade peanut butter to store brands.
Learn about growing peanuts (you don't have to live in the south!) in the article Peanuts-Grow Nuts in the Garden Next Year. Then, plant peanuts as an introduction to learning about social studies core concepts. Did you know most people in Mali use peanuts for special foods during the Harvest Festival (the largest celebration)?
Watch the Virginia Peanut Farmer video segment of America's Heartland. You will learn about the Dunn family in Virginia. The Dunn family are 7th generation farmers. Their farming heritage stretches back to the days of George Washington.
Watch the Discovery Channel's four-minute segment How It's Made-Peanut Butter.
Watch the peanut video segments of the Field Trip! series devoted to peanuts. Part 1 teaches all about the peanut including varieties of peanuts, how they grown, and how they are harvested. Part 2 shows how peanuts are processed into peanut butter.
Play the My American Farm interactive game Operation Peanut Butter.
Suggested Companion Resources
- Burn a Peanut- Count Calories (Activity)
- A Picture Book of George Washington Carver (Book)
- A Pocketful of Goobers (Book)
- A Weed Is a Flower: The Life of George Washington Carver (Book)
- From Peanut to Peanut Butter (Book)
- George Washington Carver: Agriculture Pioneer (Book)
- In the Garden with Dr. Carver (Book)
- PB&J Hooray! (Book)
- Spill the Beans and Pass the Peanuts (Book)
- My American Farm (Website)
Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
Food, Health, and Lifestyle
- Diagram the path of production for a processed product, from farm to table (T3.3-5.b)
- Distinguish between processed and unprocessed food (T3.3-5.c)
- Identify food sources of required food nutrients (T3.3-5.g)
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.
Objective 2Some locations are better suited than others to provide certain goods and services.
Objective 3People and countries trade locally produced goods and services for goods and services that are produced in other places.
Health Standard 5: Demonstrate the ability to use decision-making skills to enhance health.
5.5.5Choose a healthy option when making a decision.
Health Standard 7: Demonstrate the ability to practice health-enhancing behaviors and avoid or reduce health risks.
7.5.2Demonstrate a variety of healthy practices and behaviors to maintain or improve personal health.
Common Core Connections
Reading: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.2Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.3Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
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.4Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.