National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
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Weather on the Farm
K - 2
Two, 45-minute sessions
In this lesson, students will use hands-on activities to learn about the water cycle and which areas of California have the best climates for growing different crops.
For each pair of students:
- Plastic cup
- Plastic wrap
- Landform cutout
For each student:
- Fun With the Plant Nutrient Team student activity book
- Landform Handout for Water Cycle in a Cup
- California Grows Map handout
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
evaporation: the changing of a liquid into a gas
condensation: water that collects as droplets on a cold surface when humid air is in contact with it
precipitation: moisture in the form of rain, snow, sleet, or hail that falls to the ground
infiltration: to pass through a substance by filtering or permeating
runoff: the draining away of water from the surface of an area of land
transpiration: the process where plants absorb water through the roots and give off water vapor through pores in their leaves
climate: the weather of a particular region over a series of years
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
- Show your students a picture of some of the following: tomatoes, oranges, strawberries, apples, or cotton. Point out that each of these items grows from a plant.
- Ask your students, "Where can these plants grow?" "When can they grow?" "Can they grow in the winter?" Use further questions to help students recognize that plants need specific kinds of weather (warmth, daylight, etc.) to grow.
- Summarize the Background Agricultural Connections for your students through a class discussion and notes on the board as needed. Inform them that they will be learning about farms and how the growth of our food is affected by the weather.
Activity 1: Water Cycle in a Cup
- Organize students into groups of two and explain the directions for the Water Cycle in a Cup activity. Review key vocabulary that are labeled on the water cycle diagram and make sure students understand their meaning.
- Color the landform handout.
- Tape the landform drawing to the back of the cup.
- Add 60 ml (1/4 cup) of water to the earth cup and cover with plastic to keep the water from evaporating.
- Mark the starting water level with a crayon with the current time.
- Place the cup outside in the sun for 1/2 hour.
- Observe and discuss changes.
- At the end of the activity, discuss with your class why weather is important to farmers, and how its impact on farmers affects everyone else. Make sure to talk about supply and demand and how weather events can impact the amount of money our families spend on food.
Activity 2: Where Should I Grow It?
- Provide students with the California Grows Map. Explain that the map shows each county and some of the top crops that are produced there.
- Discuss how the climate on the north coast would be different from the climate in the Sierra Nevada Range or in the south eastern desert region of our state. See if your class can find any patterns in the types of crops that are grown in different regions. Explain that some crops do best in hot, dry climates while others do best in mild, moist climates.
- At the bottom of their map instruct students to write down the following crops then draw an arrow to a region on the map where they think those crops would grow well.
- Citrus trees: Grow best in areas that have little chance of freezing during the winter and have warm, dry summers.
- Strawberries: Grow well in areas with warm, sunny days, and cool, foggy nights.
- Cotton: Grows best in areas that have warm springtime weather, hot summers, dry falls and wet winters.
- Tomatoes: Grow best in areas with warm days, cool nights, and fertile soil found in valleys where rivers have deposited rich soil.
- Apples: Grow well in valleys of the foothills and northern coastal mountains where the winters are cool and wet and the summers are mild to hot.
- Redwood trees: Need cool climates with a lot of fog and rainfall.
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation:
After concluding these activities review and summarize the following key concepts:
- Farmers grow our food.
- The weather affects the growth of our food.
- If there is too much or too little sunshine, precipitation, or warmth it may affect how much food is harvested.
Create an experiment with water cycle in a cup. Use the scientific method and write up a report. Make observations over a period of 1/2 hour, one hour, one day and two days. Measure the amount of water that is left after observations.
Complete page 18 of the Fun With the Plant Nutrient Team student activity book.
Suggested Companion Resources
- Weather Harvest Game (Activity)
- Weather Wisdoms (Activity)
- It Feels Like Snow (Book)
- Sleep Tight Farm (Book)
- Snow Comes to the Farm (Book)
- Fun With the Plant Nutrient Team Student Activity Book (Booklets & Readers)
- My American Farm (Website)
- Project WET (Website)
- The USGS Water Science School (Website)
Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
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)
Agriculture and the Environment
- Provide examples of how weather patterns affect plant and animal growth for food (T1.K-2.d)
Education Content Standards
K-ESS2: Earth's Systems
K-ESS2-1Use and share observations of local weather conditions to describe patterns over time.
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.
K-ESS3-2Ask questions to obtain information about the purpose of weather forecasting to prepare for, and respond to, severe weather.
Common Core Connections
Reading: Anchor Standards
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.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.5Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.
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.
Writing: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.8Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.