Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
Search Lesson Plans & Companion Resources
Baa, Ram, Ewe... Sheep Tales
K - 2
Three 40-minute activities
Students will learn about sheep while developing skills of inference by determining the difference between what’s real and what’s make-believe.
Interest Approach – Engagement:
- Wool sample* (optional)
Activity 1: The Surprise
- The Surprise, by Sylvia Van Ommen
- A selection of wool clothing, including some items that have been made by hand, rather than by machine.
- Knitting needles, crochet hook, or other clothing-making tools
Activity 3: Sheep to Sweater
- Sheep to Sweater activity sheet, 1 per student
- scissors, gluesticks, crayons or colored pencils
*A Wool Sample Kit is available for purchase from agclassroomstore.com.
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
wool: the fine, soft, curly or wavy hair forming the coat of a sheep, goat, or similar animal used in making cloth or yarn
Did you know? (Ag Facts)
- Lanolin is a natural oil in sheep's wool. It is used in cosmetics and lotions.
- White is the most valuable color of wool because it can be dyed any color.
- Sheep meat is called "lamb" if it was harvested while the animal was young, or "mutton" if it was harvested when the animal was old.
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
- Ask the students, "What animal produces wool?" Once they identify that sheep produce wool, ask, "What is wool used for?"
- If possible point out any clothing, socks, or coats in the room that are made of wool. You may also provide a sample of wool for the students to see and touch.
Activity 1: The Surprise
- Show the pictures of the story The Surprise for the first time without explanation. Ask the students to develop a storyline in their own words.
- Ask them to share their story with a partner. If time permits, you may choose to have a few students share their ideas with the class.
- Starting with Page 1 of the story, revisit the details with students and give them the facts and details of the process as you go.
- Page 1: During the winter, Sheep’s wool grew thick and heavy to keep her warm. She inspects the fleece, all of her wool, checking to see the quality and how clean it is, how thick it is, and how much it weighs.
- Page 2: Where is Sheep going? What is she buying? What is she going to do with it?
- Page 3: Once the wool is clean, she uses dye to color it. She applies the dye all over the fleece. She follows the directions and watches the clock to know how long to leave the dye on the wool. She washes the fleece again, then dries and brushes her fleece. A special brush is used on a sheep’s wool called a carding brush. This brush makes all of the wool fibers go the same direction and makes it smooth, so it can be used.
- Page 4: What is Sheep doing? She is cutting her wool, or shearing it.
- Page 5: What will happen to the fleece? Where is she going?
- Page 6: What is happening to the fleece? (It is being cleaned, carded, and spun into yarn.)
- Page 7: What is Sheep doing? What might she be making? Pull out some of the knitted items or yarn with knitting needles to show the students how items are made by hand. Yarn can be made into scarves, hats, mittens, blankets, sweaters, etc. with knitting needles, crochet hooks, or looms.
- Page 8: What did Sheep make? What is she doing with it? This book is called The Surprise. When might someone get a surprise?
- Page 9: Why is Giraffe so happy? Why is wool good to use for clothing? (Wool clothing keeps you warm.) Showing some wool clothing may help students get to the correct answers.
- Have the students briefly discuss how their storyline changed after reviewing the story as a group. Ask them to relate what helped them change their story.
Activity 2: Real vs. Make-believe
- Ask the students if they think that a sheep can really shear its own wool, knit a sweater, and give a gift to an animal friend.
- Create a two-column list on the whiteboard or flip chart. On one side write the word REAL; on the other side, write the words MAKE-BELIEVE or PRETEND.
- Have the students go back through the book and examine the pages to determine very specific instances where something may be either real or make-believe (i.e., sheep weighs herself, sheep rides/drives a scooter, sheep carries a purse, sheep can tell time, sheep wears clothing, dog spins wool into yarn, giraffe gives a kiss to the sheep).
- Ask the students to consider why some stories are written in make-believe, rather than in a real (or nonfiction) format. Ask the students if they feel like sheep are nice animals after reading the story. Help them to understand that some stories are written in make-believe because they help us to “feel something” or create an emotion about the main character.
- Ask the students to recall other make-believe stories (preferably with animals) that made them feel an emotion (i.e., Three Little Pigs, Big Bad Wolf, Billy Goat Gruff, Henny Penny, Little Red Hen.) Have them identify the emotions that these characters made them feel.
- Explain to the students that sometimes stories can change their perspective about what animals can do for themselves. For example, do the students feel like chickens can make their own food because the Little Red Hen baked a loaf of bread? Help the students understand that sheep (and other farm animals) are domestic animals that are cared for by men, women, and children. They rely on humans for their care and well-being.
- Explain to the students that when the giraffe kisses the sheep in this story, we assume that he is thankful for the sweater, or that perhaps he really likes his present. Help the students understand that in real life we cannot assume that we know how animals are feeling or what they are truly thinking. We know that animals may tend to act in certain ways under specific circumstances; these acts are called behaviors. For example, a dog may wag its tail when a child comes home from school, and while we may think the dog is happy, we cannot know for certain. There are many scientists who study animal behaviors to learn more about how animals learn and respond.
Activity 3: Sheep to Sweater (Sequencing)
- Returning to the story and the two-column listing of real and make-believe things from Activity 2, ask the students whom they think actually does shear sheep and create yarn for making clothing.
- Give each student a copy of the activity sheet Sheep to Sweater.
- Have the students color the pictures and then cut out each of the small boxes with dotted edges and lay them in the proper sequence of events. It may be useful for students to reference the pages in the story and look for similarities in the pictures to get the boxes in the correct order. Students should glue the pictures down in the properly numbered sequence.
- Explain to the students that the boxes which contain the letter ‘M’ are generally done by a machine, rather than by hand.
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation
After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:
- Sheep produce wool, which is used to make warm fabrics for socks, sweaters, and coats.
- Sheep thrive in high mountain climates.
- Sheep are sheared every year. Shearing sheep is like giving them a hair cut.
We welcome your feedback! Please take a minute to tell us how to make this lesson better or to give us a few gold stars!
Display samples of wool in various stages of processing.
Read the book Charlie Needs a Cloak by Tomie dePaola aloud. In this story a shepherd shears his sheep, cards and spins the wool, weaves and dyes the cloth, and sews a beautiful new red cloak.
Have the students read and compare what they have learned with one or many of the books listed as Suggested Companion Resources. The book Warm as Wool shows how a mother makes warm woolen clothing for her children. She, like Sheep, does the work by hand. In past times, people only had a few pegs on which to hang their clothes. Ask the students if they know why children only had one or maybe two pairs of pants, a couple of shirts, and a single pair of socks. (People couldn’t go into a store and buy them at that time; there were many steps for making one article of clothing—reference the Sheep to Sweater activity sheet.)
Suggested Companion Resources
- Farm Pop-Ups (Activity)
- Hands-On With Wool (Activity)
- A New Coat for Anna (Book)
- A Young Shepherd (Book)
- Brave Dogs, Gentle Dogs (Book)
- Charlie Needs a Cloak (Book)
- Farm Animals: Sheep (Book)
- From Sheep to Sweater (Book)
- Sheep on the Farm (Book)
- The Surprise (Book)
- Warm as Wool (Book)
- Weaving the Rainbow (Book)
- Where Did My Clothes Come From? (Book)
- Wild Rose's Weaving (Book)
- About...Books (Kit)
- Wool Samples (Kit)
- Wool Spinning Kit (Kit)
- America's Heartland: Bachelor Sheep Ranch (Multimedia)
- America's Heartland: Wild & Wooly Roundup (Multimedia)
- How It's Made: Wool (Multimedia)
- Sheep Crossing (Multimedia)
- Wool Ewe Keep Me Warm? Video (Multimedia)
State Standards for Utah
Kindergarten: Science Standard 4Students will gain an understanding of Life Science through the study of changes in organisms over time and the nature of living things.
Objective 1Investigate living things. Meeting one or more of the following indicators: b) Compare and contrast young plants and animals with their parents. c) Describe some changes in plants and animals that are so slow or so fast that they are hard to see (e.g., seasonal change,“fast” blooming flower, slow growth, hatching egg).
Objective 2Describe the parts of living things. Meeting one or more of the following indicators: b) Identify major parts of plants, e.g., roots, stem, leaf, flower, trunk, branches. c) Compare the parts of different animals, e.g., skin, fur, feathers, scales; hand, wing, flipper, fin.
Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
Culture, Society, Economy & Geography
- Identify plants and animals grown or raised locally that are used for food, clothing, shelter, and landscapes (T5.K-2.d)
Plants and Animals for Food, Fiber & Energy
- Explain how farmers work with the lifecycle of plants and animals (planting/breeding) to harvest a crop (T2.K-2.a)
- Identify animals involved in agricultural production and their uses (i.e., work, meat, dairy, eggs) (T2.K-2.b)
Common Core Connections
Reading: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.2Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.8Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.
Speaking and Listening: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
K-LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
K-LS1-1Use observations to describe patterns of what plants and animals (including humans) need to survive.