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Public Library Series

Unit 3: We Grow Corn! - Growing Corn

Grade Level: Public Library

In unit 3 the reader will learn how corn grows and what is needed to grow a healthy corn plant. Farmers are faced with many challenges throughout the growing season. Insects and weeds may impact the plants badly but the amount of water a plant receives will also determine how much the corn plant will produce.

Unit Instructions


30-45 minutes*

The amount of time will vary depending on the age group that is participating.

*Does not account for time to do the extension activity/TEACH-FLEX lesson.


  • “We Grow Corn! Raising corn on a Kansas family Farm” by Sharon Thielen, Ph.D.
  • Focus on pages 8-11 (10 Minutes)• Technology to watch:
    • Watch the Kernels of Knowledge Video: Growing Corn in Northeast Kansas (3:13)
    • Watch the Kernels of Knowledge Video: Growing Corn in Southwest Kansas (4:03)
  • Activity: Water Cycle Bead Bracelet (10-20 Minutes)
    • Water Cycle Coloring Sheet
    • Pipe cleaner
    • 3 clear beads
    • 3 green beads
    • 3 blue beads
    • 3 yellow beads
    • 3 white beads
    • Crayons or markers
  • Snack: Tortilla Boats
  • Extension Activity/TEACH-FLEX Lesson (see lesson for material list)
  • Technology for Online Challenge (10 Minutes)


If the reader has already read the entire “We Grow Corn!” book, this unit will focus on pages 8-11. On pages 8-9 the reader will learn that corn needs heat and water to germinate. They will also learn how weather can impact the success of the crop because farmers always worry about the weather. Many readers do not realize how tall a corn plant can get (as tall as a basketball goal) and that one kernel will produce around 800 kernels. On pages 10-11 the reader will learn about scouting which is the process of walking through the fields and determining what the plants need to grow healthy. They will learn about the role of a sprayer and irrigation. This leads into the activity for the day which focuses on the water cycle. In Western Kansas many farmers are able to use irrigation to water their crops because they don’t receive as much rainfall. In Eastern Kansas farmers rely on rainfall to water their crops.

Remote learners can watch the author read the book online at Pages 8-11 are read between 2:24-9:36.


Kernels of Knowledge videos allow the reader of the “We Grow Corn” book to dig deeper into the details related to growing corn. The first video focuses on what is needed for the corn crop to grow in eastern Kansas. The second video focuses on growing corn in western Kansas with the focus being on the use of a center pivot sprinkler system to irrigate the crops. The reader will be able to see what it is like to be in a field monitoring the growth of the crop.

Kernels of Knowledge Video: Growing Corn in Northeast Kansas (3:13)

Kernels of Knowledge Video: Growing Corn in Southwest Kansas (4:03)


During this activity, the reader will be able to make the connection on the importance water plays in growing a corn crop. The water cycle describes the continuous movement of water and at what stage the water reaches the corn plant.


  1. Lay out the pipe cleaner and fifteen beads.
  2. Look at the water cycle coloring sheet and start with evaporation.
  3. Place the clear bead on pipe cleaner first.
  4. Follow arrows around the sheet and place the next color bead on pipe cleaner.
  5. Repeat the process with the remaining beads by adding them to the pipe cleaner.
  6. Wrap pipe cleaner around wrist and tie ends to make bracelet.
  7. Optional: color the sheet to review the cycle again.

Explanation Video

This video can be played to the reader(s) to explain more about the water cycle. You can also use the content yourself to educate the readers about the water cycle.

The Water Cycle | The Dr. Binocs Show

Relating the content from the video back to Kansas

During corn growing season which is April-September the most common form of precipitation is rain, which is very important because it waters the corn plants. The excess water that is not used by the plant is collected in Kansas lakes or seeps through the soil to be collected as ground water. The Ogallala Aquifer, one of the world largest aquifers that holds ground water, is located in part of Western Kansas and expands into neighboring states. This is where many western Kansas farmers get their water to irrigate the crops. Farmers make sure they only use the water they need so the amount of water in the aquifer is maintained.

Online Challenge

A breakout box challenge is a fun way to test the reader on what they learned. This can be done as a group or individually if they have their own technology device. Answer key on page 61 of the hard copy instruction guide.

Extension Activity/TEACH-FLEX Lesson

To keep the conversation going about corn here are additional activities and lessons that can be used in the library or encourage your readers to complete at home. All materials use common products found at home. These links can be found at under Unit 3. • Do You Mind If I Bug You For A Minute? | KS Corn (Includes Instruction Video)• Creating Soil | KS Corn


About Kansas Corn STEM

Investing in Kansas teachers, students and public libraries is a priority for the Kansas Corn Commission. We are committed to providing materials and training to support STEM education while fostering an understanding of how corn farming and agriculture fit into our daily lives.

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This lesson is the work product of the Kansas Corn Commission. Our lessons are written in collaboration with Kansas teachers for use in the classroom. Teachers may copy and share this curriculum. Use of this product for commercial or promotional use is prohibited without express permission of Kansas Corn.

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