Tag Archives: agriculture

Problem-solving with pigs: Start at the end


CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP4 Model with mathematics.

CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP1 Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.

⏰ Time

60-75 minutes

📃 Summary

This cross-curricular lesson includes activities and instruction in agricultural science and math. Students begin by watching a video and learning about pig farms. After making their own pig barn, they watch two short videos about solving math problems. This information is then applied to solve problems during a presentation on math around the pig farm. Students end playing one of the Making Camp games to reinforce skills and knowledge.

📲 Technology Required

If teaching in person, the teacher will need a computer and projector or smart board to show the videos, or students can be given the links to watch on their own devices. Students will need a PC, Mac or Chromebook or tablet. Making Camp Premium, Making Camp Lakota and Making Dakota are all playable on any web browser on those devices.

📚 Lesson

This lesson starts with resources from National Ag in the Classroom

Virtual tour of pig farms

Virtual Field Trip to Ohio Pig Farms

Make a Pig Barn

This activity requires a few supplies but it is probably things you have lying around and your students will probably enjoy it.

  • Business-size envelopes, 4 per group
  • Paper towel, 1 per group
  • Scissors
  • Scotch tape


  • Markers
  • Toilet paper rolls, 2 per group
  • Drinking straws, 2 per group (cut into 8 equal pieces)
  • 8.5″ x 11″ white paper, 1 per group (cut in half)
  • Extra paper for making fencing, pipes, feed troughs, etc. (optional)


Use the following instructions to model for the students how to create the barn:

  1. Barn: Cut an oval hole in one envelope, making a large side window for the barn. This window provides the proper ventilation for the pigs.
  2. Cut the paper towel in half and tape it onto the top of the window for the curtain.
  3. Cut another envelope in half for the ends of the barn.
  4. Tape the ends of the barn to the “sides of the barn” envelopes, one of which has the hole for the window and paper towel curtain, so that you have four sides, or a rectangle.
  5. Use the final envelope to create a roof by creasing it in half lengthwise and attaching it with tape to the top of the rectangle.
  6. Food Storage: Tape four straws, or legs, to each toilet paper roll so that the structures will stand on the legs.
  7. Use a half piece of paper, and make a cone shape by twisting and taping the ends. Tape the cone shape on the end of the toilet paper roll without the straw legs.
  8. Use the other half piece of paper to make another smaller cone shape and tape it between the straw legs on the other end of the toilet paper roll.

If you’d like, you or your students can watch the instructions here. You can also assign this video for students learning at home to watch so they know how to make the barn. The plus is that just about every house will have every single one of these items except possibly the straws.

Optional additional science and language arts content

This link to the National Ag in the Classroom lesson has more information on pigs and pig farming, including some of the vocabulary used in the math lesson as well as a discussion of the ways farmers care for animals. I highly recommend checking it out.

Watch a video on operations key words

Trust me, this does come back to pig farming!

Students watch this video on operations keywords. This two-minute video has been watched over 14,000 times, which gives some indication of how useful students and teacher find the concept of looking at the words in a problem to decide which operation to use.

Watch a video on problem-solving – Start at the end

This 3 1/2 minute video explains that the end of the word problem is where you usually will find the question you are expected to solve. It includes one easy and one harder example, as well as a couple of useful tips.

Start at the End

Give a presentation

This 34-slide deck on problem-solving reinforces the information in the two math videos and gives students three problems of increasing difficulty where they have to start at the end, all centered around Laura’s pig farm.

Play a game

Now that students have been introduced to problem-solving with multiplication and division word problems, it’s time to play a game and reinforce those skills. Which game depends on what you feel your students need most. There is overlap among the games as each includes some review.

Making Camp Premium – focuses primarily on multiplication of one- and two-digit numbers. Also includes division with one-digit divisors. The content is taught in the context of Ojibwe history and culture.

Making Camp Lakota – focuses primarily on division with one-digit divisors. Also includes multiplication of one- and two-digit numbers. The content is taught in the context of Lakota history and culture.

Making Camp Dakota – focuses primarily on division of three-digit numbers with one- and two-digit divisors. Also includes multiplication of one- and two-digit numbers and division with one-digit divisors. The content is taught in the context of Lakota history and culture.


Assessments are built into the presentation, as teachers can have students submit their answers in writing or in a Google chat prior to giving the answers during the presentation. Teachers can also see which standards students have attempted and how many problems they have answered correctly in the Making Camp teacher reports.

Related lesson : Problem-solving Two ways

As the title suggests, this lesson introduces students to two other problme-solving strategies. They watch a video on visualization, then solve a problem that asks them to visualize. After watching a video on building a model, students build and/or draw their own model of a multiplication problem or property.

Medicine Ways


Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

⏰ Time Required

40 minutes

📲Technology Required

Students must have laptops, desktop computers, or tablets with an internet connection. Make time to transition from doing a slides presentation to having students log into Making Camp Premium.

📃 Summary

This social studies lesson for Grades 3-5 explores the history and application of plants as both medicine and food in the every day lives of indigenous people of North America.

This 40-minute lesson begins with a 20-minute presentation on how indigenous people used plants for medicine and a plant-based diet to insure their health. It ends with 20 minutes of gameplay in Making Camp Premium to help reinforce how plants were used by the Ojibwe, indigenous people living on the Great Plains. Here’s an overview of the bite-sized minigame you can use to reinforce this slideshow lesson.

  • Making Camp Premium’s wild rice game features a two-minute long passage that is read aloud. and then playing a mini survival game. Players collect wild rice in a canoe. They must avoid a hungry, pursuant bear and hazardous logs.

📚 Lesson

Introduce the Lesson
In the Medicine Ways Google Slides presentation, students learn a brief history of Native American herb gathering and how indigenous people are pursuing health and wellness with plants. This presentation uses an example of a diet called the Waianae Diet, which is an indigenous diet used in Native Hawaiian cultural diet revitalization.

Personal Dictionary
The Vocabulary List is available with five vocabulary words from the presentation. Students have the extra option to add these words to a personal dictionary. Here are directions for making a Personal Dictionary, and here is a finished example for you.

2. Students will play Making Camp Premium for 15-20 minutes.


Play Making Camp Premium.

In Making Camp Premium, click the icon called LIFE, and then find the icon that has a brown wild rice plant. Students will listen to the audio being read with highlighted paragraphs. They won’t be able to skip ahead or skip the passage.

Engage in an Ojibwe tribal activity mini-game. Students learn about some of the historical challenges of collecting herbs in the wilderness in the passage and the mini-game. There was a good degree of risk-taking involved in subsistence gathering.


  • This lesson has a section of formative assessment in the form of manipulatives for classifying junk food and healthy food.
  • Students have the option to make a Personal Dictionary.
  • The wild rice minigame is a gamified learning segment about history and culture.

Related Lesson

See the social studies lesson, Cattails, for Grades 3-5 for an in-depth look at this all-around useful herb that boosts survival in the harsh wilderness, and is still being used today, with new applications as biofuel and pollution clean-up.

Watch out for blood-sucking fishes!


CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.5.4 Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 5 topic or subject area.

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.NBT.A.1 Recognize that in a multi-digit number, a digit in one place represents 10 times as much as it represents in the place to its right and 1/10 of what it represents in the place to its left.

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.NBT.B.5 Fluently multiply multi-digit whole numbers using the standard algorithm.


40 minutes


Either a project or smart board connected to the computer will be required to view presentation and videos in class or students will need a computer to watch during a web meeting. The game can be played on any computer or tablet.


This lesson introduces new science vocabulary words, teaches about indigenous and invasive species and includes a couple of math problems showing how quickly invasive species multiply. It concludes with students playing the Making Camp Dakota: Past and Present game.


Watch the Mouths to Feed Video

Invasive Species Giant Insect!

This one-minute video is a little silly with a giant insect but it is a good starter for the lesson to spark student interest.

Give a presentation on indigenous and invasive species

This Google slides presentation introduces the concepts of indigenous and invasive species. It also provides geography information on the Great Plains and Great Lakes as well as a couple of math problems computing how quickly one fly can turn into 5,000.

This content can be assigned to students as reading, but we recommend the teacher present as a mini-lecture first, if possible, and include the reading for students to review.

Watch video Seven Ways to Leave Hungry Pests Behind

We recommend assigning students to write down any words in the video that they don’t recognize.

Play Making Camp Dakota: Past and Present

Have students access the Games Portal for Kids to play Making Camp Dakota: Past and Present. If you want sections specific to this lesson in indigenous plants and animals, have them select the two icons below.

In the LIFE section of Making Camp Dakota: Past and Present, select this icon to learn about how indigenous people used herbs.

Herb Matching Game

In the NUMBERS section, select this icon to learn about buffalo hunting.

As an added bonus, the buffalo section ends with a question on division of three digit numbers.

Buffalo hunt long division problem from Making Camp Dakota
Buffalo Hunt Division – from Making Camp Dakota

Optional: Lesson challenges and extension

National Ag in the Classroom has four, related lessons at the sixth to eighth-grade level on invasive species. Some of the readings may be above the grade level, but they recommend “jigsaw reading” where each student in a group takes a piece of a reading, then explains that paragraph or two to the rest of the class.

If your students are interested in invasive species, or you want some students to have more of a challenge, we recommend checking out this resource.


In-class formative assessment occurs when asking students to answer math problems during the lesson. Students learning remotely can post answers in chat. Students in a classroom can hold up a piece of paper with their answer, allowing the teacher to check understanding at a glance.

Completion and accuracy of the responses in Making Camp Dakota can be checked in the data reports.



CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.1 Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.4.4.A Read grade-level text with purpose and understanding.


Students will listen to or read a slide presentation. They will read an informational passage on cattails, write a summary and add new vocabulary words to their personal dictionary. The lesson ends with playing a game that teaches how medicinal herbs were used by indigenous people.

⏰Lesson Time

40 min

📲Technology Required


Introduce the lesson

Use this Google slides presentation to introduce the lesson and provide some information on traditional and modern uses for cattails. It also discusses the use of plants by Native Americans and in games.

Personal Dictionary/ Word Journal

Students read the seven new vocabulary words introduced, with definitions. They then add these seven words to their personal dictionary.

If this is the first time your students have had a personal dictionary assignment, they can read What is a personal dictionary? in this Google Doc. This link is also within the assignment.

Reading Activity

Students read the passage, How Native Americans Used Cattails.

Writing Activities

Students complete an assignment given at the end of the informational passage they have just read.


Play Making Camp Dakota: Past and Present. After logging in, select LIFE.

Select the LIFE button

From the LIFE section, select the icon with the pink and yellow flowers (the first icon in the bottom row). This will play a short video on use of herbs in traditional indigenous cultures in the upper Midwest.

Select the icon with the pink flowers

After watching the video, students complete an activity where they match the herb with its use.


Have students play either Spirit Lake: The Game, available for Mac or Windows.

Spirit Lake: The Game is available for Windows and Mac computers

In the Spirit Lake game, students learn that the purple cone flower was used for medicine and use multiplication to compute the number to bring back from the woods in the virtual world.


Students produce written assignments assessing vocabulary and reading comprehension. Data reports on students’ performance on math problems and progress in the game for Spirit Lake can be accessed at growingmath.org with your password.

Understanding averages using skunks


CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.SP.B.5 Summarize numerical data sets in relation to their context, such as by:

  • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.SP.B.5.A Reporting the number of observations.
  • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.SP.B.5.B Describing the nature of the attribute under investigation, including how it was measured and its units of measurement.

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.SP.B.5.C Giving quantitative measures of center (median and/or mean) and variability (interquartile range and/or mean absolute deviation), as well as describing any overall pattern and any striking deviations from the overall pattern with reference to the context in which the data were gathered.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.7 Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.


30 minutes 


In this lesson plan, students will learn how to find the mean and calculate the average and practice finding the average in a game environment. They will learn about skunks and skunk farming through primary source material. Then analyzing historical data, students will calculate the average.


Device with web-browser (Chromebook, laptop or desktop computer)


Introduce the Assignment

Students can read the assignment, Going on a Skunk Hunt , on their own or teachers can read it to the class and ask any questions (5 minutes)

Through the next three activities – video, reading and assessment –  students will gather clues to unlock the “secret password” for the Skunk Hunt and get to play a short online game. Individual links to the video, reading and assessment components are included below for your reference, but are all included in the Skunk Hunt activity as well for ease of student access. 

The answer to the Skunk Hunt/secret password is: 3harvestnewyork1911


Watch this animated video explaining how to find the average. The video includes an example problem walking through the process, introduces the formula to find the average and also includes vocabulary to explain that mean and average the same thing. (2:00)


Read this short post, Skunks for Fur and Farming , about the intersection of skunks and agriculture, incorporating information from primary sources and historical data. (5-10 minutes)


In this assessment activity, Playing the Skunk Market ,students will use a table with historical data to solve two to four problems asking students to find the average. Two problems require solving for the average and two problems require solving for the average or estimating the average. (10-15 minutes)


RELATED: This lesson plan corresponds with the math standards covered in and refers to content included in Forgotten Trail. Forgotten Trail is recommended as a supplemental resource for this activity. The image at the top of this post is from that game. You can view your students’ progress on mastering these standards by viewing your teacher reports. You can access the Forgotten Trail reports here.

All About Sheep


Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons.

Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.


This English language arts and agriculture lesson consists of two short activities that teach students in Grades 3-4 about sheep using an online ebook and flashcards about domestic sheep. The lesson ends with a formative assessment writing activity consisting of either an informational writing prompt or an opinion one.

⏰Time Required

30 minutes

📲Technology Required

Access to computer or tablet for remote learning. Printing out cards for your students is best for this lesson.


Activity 1: Use flash cards to learn vocabulary

The sheep flash cards below can be used to pre-teach the vocabulary found in the All About Sheep book for 8-10 minutes.

Download ready-to-print flash cards

Activity 2

  • Click the link to access the ebook on Book Creator: All About Sheep.
  • Students may read the book on their own or alternatively, listen to it.
  • This can take 5-10 minutes.


Have students complete a writing prompt about what they learned after reading All About Sheep. This can take about 10-15 minutes. You can choose from the following writing activities.

  1. Opinion Writing Prompts
  • My favorite part of being a shepherd would be…
  • If I had wool, I would make…
  • If I could feed a sheep a snack, I would feed it…

2. Informational Writing Prompts

  • Reflect: Why are sheep important to us? What resources do they give us?
  • Reflect: Why do sheep need a shepherd?
  • Synthesize (Going beyond the text.): Why might it be important to put colorful markings on a ewe and her lamb?

3. Book Review

  • Write a book review about All About Sheep. Have students tell other young readers what the book was about. Have students include their own evaluation or interpretation about All About Sheep.


Science, language arts and math with wildflowers


English/ Language Arts

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6.7 Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.

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.

Next Generation Science Standard

MS-LS2-1 Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics: Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem.

Mathematics Standard

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.SP.A.3 Recognize that a measure of center for a numerical data set summarizes all of its values with a single number.

📲 Technology required

Optionally, the teacher will have access to a printer to print pages 2-3 of the book and selected pages to color. Since choke cherry and Simpson’s Ball Cactus are mentioned in the problems, it is recommended that, at a minimum, these pages should be printed. Alternatively, the link can be shared to students who are learning from home to read material on their computer.

📃 Summary

This is a true STREAM lesson. Combining science, reading, art and mathematics. Students read a description of the pine forest ecosystem and life zones. They define any new words in their personal dictionary. Students then use information on plant life to identify life zones and locate these zones in terms of altitude. Students who complete the activity before the allotted class time play a game that teaches fractions and basic statistics.

Time Required

50 minutes

📚 Lesson Plan

Read pages two and three of Wildflowers of Ponderosa Pine Forests Coloring Book – These pages explain the pine forest ecosystem, including an illustration of Life Zones.

Complete 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.

Use Life Zones to Solve Problems

Angie and Sam are on their way to Michigan but they have gotten so, so lost! They are somewhere in Colorado. Sam has sent Angie this text:

Hey, Angie! I can’t see you anywhere. All I can see are trees, a whole lot of trees, and if I look up the mountain, I see even more trees, closer together. I recognize this plant with red berries. Grandma called it choke cherry. Where are you? How can I meet you? Should I go up or down?

Angie texts him back,

There aren’t that many trees around me, but there are some of these round cactus plants. We are definitely not in Michigan!

Use the information on life zones to answer these questions. (Hint: You may have to look on the plant pages as well.)

  1. In which of the five life zones is Sam right now? How do you know?
  2. In which of the five life zones is Angie right now? How do you know?
  3. Should Sam go up the mountain or down the mountain to meet up with Angie? Why?

Click here for the life zone assignment as a Google doc.

BONUS 1: Game Play

You might recognize Sam and Angie from the game, Forgotten Trail, where they try to retrace their ancestors’ journey across the U.S. and Canada. If you finish this assignment and your personal dictionary before class time is over, play Forgotten Trail here.

BONUS 2: Art

As an alternate bonus activity, students may color the pictures in the book according to the legend included. This would require that the teacher print pages for students. Since choke cherry and Simpson’s Ball Cactus are mentioned in the problems, it is recommended that, at a minimum, these pages should be printed.


Recommended rubric for the Personal Dictionary is as follows:

This assignment is worth 100 points. A minimum of ten words is required. You can include up to two extra  words for an additional 20 points.

Each word is worth 10 points.

  • Dictionary definition – 3 points
  • Definition in your own words – 5 points
  • Use in a sentence or draw a picture – 2 points

Recommended rubric for Life Zone Questions

Each question is worth 25 points.

Sam is in the Montane zone (5 points). We know this because he sees a lot of trees and the Montane zone is a forested area. He said that there are even more trees up ahead so we know he is not in the subalpine area because above that are no trees (10 points). He also saw choke cherry plants and these are at elevation from 7,000 – 9,000 feet. The Montane zone starts at 8,000 feet. (10 points)

Angie is in the Foothills (5 points). We know this because she says there are not many trees (10 points) and she sees the Simpson’s Ball Cactus which is common in the Foothills (10 points).

Sam should go down the mountain to meet Angie (5 points) because Sam is in the Montane zone, which is at 8,000 to 10,000 feet (10 points) and she is in the Foothills which is at (6,000 to 8,000 feet) so he needs to go down in altitude to meet her (10 points).

Assessment for Forgotten Trail math problems

Problems are scored automatically within the game. Teachers who are part of the Growing Math project or with 7 Generation Games site license can access student data from the Reports page.