National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
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Growing Almonds: Fact or Opinion
3 - 5
Two 50-minute lessons plus additional time for writing
Students will learn about the process of getting almonds from farm to table and distinguish the difference between facts and opinions as they learn about each stage and season of almond growth.
- KWL Chart Paper
- An Almond Story video
- The Almond Board of California’s slide show, Almond Life Cycle
- An Almond Story activity book, page 12: a Busy Little Almond
- Factual Frank and Opinion Opie worksheet
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
hull: protective covering of an almond around the shell and kernel
pollinate: to carry pollen from the stamen to the pistol of a flower
orchard: piece of land planted with trees
dormant: a period of time where a plant is alive, but not actively growing; usually during winter months
Did you know? (Ag Facts)
- Almonds like hot summers and cool winters to grow.1
- Almonds only grow if bees pollinate the blossoms in the spring.1
- Almonds can be eaten whole, sliced, slivered, as flour, milk, butter, or oil.2
- Each fruit of the almond tree has 3 parts, which are all used. The hull is fed to livestock, the shell is used for livestock bedding, and the kernel is what we eat.3
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
- Tell your students that you will be giving them a list of clues to introduce the topic of the lesson. Instruct students to raise their hand when they think they know what it is. Give the following clues:
- It is a food you can eat.
- It grows on a farm in a place called an orchard.
- It grows on a tree.
- Without bees, this food would not grow.
- The entire domestic (within the United States) supply of this food is grown in the state of California.
- While growing on the tree, this food has an outer shell called a hull. (display picture)
- Inside the hull, you will find a shell. (display picture)
- Inside the shell, what will you find? (an almond!)
- Inform students that they will be learning about the process of growing almonds and the steps it takes to get them from the farm to our dinner tables.
- Discuss what students already know about almonds and what they want to know. Write answers on the KWL chart.
- Watch the Almond Story video. Add new information to the KWL chart.
- Show the Almond Life Cycle slides on the Almond Board of California’s website
- November through February, almond trees go through a period of dormancy that allows them to store nutrients.
- Between February and early March almond trees begin to bloom. Different varieties bloom at different times.
- Most almond trees need pollination so bees are brought to the orchard to carry pollen and pollinate the almond blossoms, which is the first start to crop development.
- From March to June, almonds grow and mature, with the outer shell (hull) hardening and the kernel developing.
- During July and August, the hulls begin to split which allows the almond shell to begin to dry. Right before harvest the hull opens completely.
- From August to October, harvest begins. Harvest equipment called shakers come into the orchard and clamp the trunk of the trees. They shake the tree vigorously (for 3-4 seconds) and the almonds fall to the ground. The almonds stay on the ground for a little over a week and then are swept into rows by another piece of equipment called a sweeper.
- Optional: Students saw a shaker in the Almond Story video, but you may also show them an additional video of a shaker machine at work.
- Next, almonds are picked up by a harvester, transferred into a trailer and hauled to a huller/sheller facility where they go onto a conveyer belt and the hull and shell are separated from the almond kernels. The almonds are also separated out according to size.
- After hulling and separating, almonds are stored until they are shipped or processed further.
- As a class, have students read and complete page 12, a Busy Little Almond, in their activity books. Add to KWL chart.
- Discuss or review the meaning of fact and opinion. A fact is a statement that is true and can be proven. An opinion is a statement based on a belief or how someone feels and can’t be proven. Have students practice by using the Factual Frank and Opinion Opie worksheet. Have students complete the page and discuss.
- Clarify what students have learned about almonds so far. Add to “learned” column of KWL chart.
- Have students write an opinion or informative essay on almonds. Students may focus on harvest or another area from their almond activity book. Student papers should have an introduction, include reasons or facts, include linking words and domain specific vocabulary, as well as have a conclusion. Have students present their paper.
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation
After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:
- Nearly all almonds consumed in the United States were grown in California. In addition, California exports a large quantity of almonds to other countries throughout the world.
- California grows a large quantity of almonds because the climate (weather) is ideal for almond growth. Almond trees prefer cool winters and hot summers.
- Almonds grow on trees. They begin their development in the spring when bees pollinate almond blossoms to allow them to grow through the spring and summer until they are harvested.
- Almonds can be eaten fresh or turned into almond butter, milk, or flour.
For a lesson teaching further about the importance of bees and pollination, see Honey Bees: A Pollination Simulation.
Record student or group presentations and watch as a class. Have students give feedback on the presentations.
Have student groups make posters about almond harvest. Students should illustrate their posters. Have students present their posters. Display posters in your classroom.
Have students create a Fact or Opinion class quiz.
Have students read and complete pages 11 and 20, People in the Almond Industry and Nuts about Recycling in their Almond Story activity book. After students finish, ask them to re-read the pages, this time looking for fact and opinion. Students should find and underline fact or opinion statements on the activity book pages and discuss with a partner.
Use the Almond Fact and Activity Sheet to learn more about the production, history, nutrition, and economic value of the almond.
Suggested Companion Resources
- Fun with Almond Math (Activity)
- Harvest Year (Book)
- The Beeman (Book)
- The Life and Times of the Honeybee (Book)
- When the Bees Fly Home (Book)
- An Almond Story (Multimedia)
- NMSU Field Trip: Honey (Multimedia)
- The Honey Files (Multimedia)
Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
Culture, Society, Economy & Geography
- Provide examples of agricultural products available, but not produced in their local area and state (T5.3-5.e)
Food, Health, and Lifestyle
- Diagram the path of production for a processed product, from farm to table (T3.3-5.b)
Agriculture and the Environment
- Explain how the interaction of the sun, soil, water, and weather in plant and animal growth impacts agricultural production (T1.3-5.b)
Education Content Standards
3-LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
3-LS1-1Develop models to describe that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles but all have in common birth, growth, reproduction, and death.
4-LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
4-LS1-1Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.
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.
Speaking and Listening: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.3Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.4Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.5Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.
Writing: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.1Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
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.4Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.5Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.