Food Deserts, Indigenous Seeds and Data Stories


CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.3 Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.SP.B.4 Display numerical data in plots

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.SP.B.5 Summarize numerical data sets in relation to their context

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.7.RP.A.2 Recognize and represent proportional relationships between quantities

⏰ Time

70 – 90 minutes, including cooking activity

📲 Technology Required

A computer with projector or smart board is required to show the video and presentation to students.


This truly cross-curricular assignment begins by watching a video about seed rematriation, that is returning Indigenous seeds to their original lands. They read a short booklet on cooking and nutrition, then do a cooking activity at school or home. A presentation on food deserts includes definitions, data and actions students can take. Students add new words or phrases to their word journal and complete a math assignment using data from the presentation. Advanced students play a game to learn more math and Navajo culture.

📚 Lesson

Watch this video seed rematriation, that is, growing Indigenous seeds in the lands from which they came originally.

Read a short booklet on cooking and nutrition

Scrambled eggs and spinach – available here as a free pdf from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is directed at parents but should be at the reading level of most sixth- or seventh-graders.

Make some eggs

It will be a lot more fun for your class if you can actually go to the school kitchen and cook some eggs. Reading the booklet above will give the recipe, optional ingredients and much more. The only 3 ingredients you absolutely need are eggs, spinach and vegetable oil or butter.

Alternative assignment

If you absolutely cannot go to the kitchen at school because of scheduling, safety regulations or other reasons, here are two other options.

  • Assign this activity for students to do with their parents at home. Here is the link for the recipe. You can make this an extra credit activity because not everyone has parents who have time or money to run out for eggs and spinach. Optional: If students have access to a phone or tablet, have them record themselves/ their parent cooking.
  • You can watch a video of kids making the recipe , but doing it with your class will be more fun.

Listen to/ read presentation on food deserts

What if there was nowhere to buy eggs, spinach or even seeds near where you live? You can use this Google slides presentation to present to students in class or assign them to read on their own.

Complete word journal

Students add words or terms with which they are unfamiliar to their word journal. Some teachers call it a personal dictionary, to others it’s a word journal. Regardless, the goal is the same, for students to record new words, give a dictionary definition and “make the word their own”. This can be done by rewriting the definition in their own words, using the word in a sentence or including an illustration of the word.

Two dictionary sites to recommend for definitions are below. An added bonus to mention to students is that they can hear words pronounced.

Since students often ask for an example, here is an example you can link in your lesson

The personal dictionary assignment, with all links, can be found here. Feel free to copy and paste into your Google classroom or other site, or print out for your class.

Math assignment: Using statistics and ratio to answer questions

Copy the assignment into your Google classroom or other system or print out for students. Students will use the data from the Food Deserts presentation to answer questions about percentages. They will also create pie charts (circle graphs) and bar charts. You can have students do this with a calculator or pencil and paper or using Google sheets.

ANSWER KEY for assignment

If you’d like a spreadsheet where these tables and graphs were created, you can find it here.

Differentiated Instruction: For Advanced Students

Challenge more advanced students to watch this video on Making Mounds for Three Sisters Gardens. The vocabulary is a little more advanced than the typical sixth-grade with terms like “nitrogen”, “fish emulsion”. In the first farm, they planted 80 mounds. Students should watch the video and figure out from the information given how wide the plot must be .

More advanced students can also play the Making Camp Navajo game, available from the Games for Kids portal on this site, to learn more about farming and expand their knowledge of ratio and proportion.


Word journals are graded based on correct or incorrect definition. Data analysis assignments assess student achievement of math standards above.

One thought on “Food Deserts, Indigenous Seeds and Data Stories

  1. Pingback: Cross-curricular Middle School Statistics Unit | Growing Math

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