Lesson 1: Why is Corn Important to Me?
(30 minute lesson)
Key question: Why do we need farmers to grow corn?
Students will propose an answer to the question, “Why do we need farmers to grow corn?”
Students will provide evidence that many everyday products are made from corn.
- Book: My Family’s Corn Farm, by Katie Olthoff
- A variety of products made with corn (ketchup, glue sticks, popcorn, etc.) (optional: Photos of Corn Products
- Yes/No Checklist (Kindergarten)
- Clipboards for each child (Kindergarten)
- Pictures of “no corn”/pictures of “corn” (1st Grade)
Procedures for Instruction
Introduce the topic and assess students for prior understanding with such questions:
“Who knows what corn is?”
“How would you describe corn?”
“Where do we find corn?”
“How do you know it’s corn?”
“Why do farmers grow corn?”
Read aloud: My Family’s Corn Farm, by Katie Olthoff
Hard copy of book is available with teacher kit. To access book online, follow this link.
Discuss that corn grows in Kansas and it is all around them. “Do you know what products corn is used to make?” (Let students discuss without cueing them as to whether they are right or wrong. Ask them how they could find out, how they could find evidence.)
Play a game with products that contain corn.
List of products made from corn
Common Items Containing Corn
Photos of Corn Products
- Kindergarten: Set up the variety of corn products with an associated letter or number. Give each student a clipboard with the Yes/No Checklist. Students will match the letter of the product to the letter on their checklist, and circle Yes or No according to whether they think the product contains corn or not.
- First Grade: Set up 2 stations in the room with the pictures of “no corn” or “corn” used as signs. Show students one product at a time and ask if they think it contains corn. If no, they should go to the “no corn” station. If yes, they should go to the “corn” station.
Reveal the answers and discuss. All the products contain corn. Discuss with the following prompts:
“Can you find the word ‘corn’ on the list of ingredients?”
“Are you surprised that so many of our everyday products use corn?”
“What do you think about so many products containing corn?”
“Is it important that our farmers grow corn? Why?”
“What do you think would happen if farmers could not grow corn?”
“You discovered how important corn is to our lives, and that Kansas farmers grow corn. We will continue to learn more about corn. Until then, be on the lookout for corn in your world! Is it in the products you use? Is it growing in a nearby field?”
- Formative assessments: Assess contributions in first discussion for prior understanding and adjust instruction if needed; assess responses on checklist or during game – are they finding evidence of corn in the product by finding the word “corn” in the ingredients (if they can read)?
- Informal summative assessment: Verbal responses in final discussion – do students recognize that corn is an important agricultural product because it is used in so many of our products?