Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
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Animal Life Cycles
K - 2
This lesson introduces students to six major livestock species, teaches that animals need air, space, food, water, and shelter to survive, and introduces students to the life cycle of a farm animal.
- 1 picture of each of the major farm animals (Cattle, horses, sheep, pigs, chickens, turkeys)
- You may use your own pictures or the ones provided in the Essential Files.
Activity 1: Needs of Animals
- Props or pictures to represent:
- Food (apples, corn, oats, etc)
- Water (water bottle)
- Shelter (toy barn, shed, tent, umbrella)
- Air (balloon filled with air)
- Space (empty box or bucket)
- How Many Hats Does a Farmer Wear? activity sheet, 1 per student
- Crayons or markers
- Metal brads, 1 per student
Activity 2: Farm Animal Life Cycles
- Animal Flashcards, 1 classroom set
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
livestock: farm animals such as cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and others who are raised for their meat, wool, milk, or eggs
by-product: a secondary or incidental product made in the in the manufacture of synthesis of something else
Did you know? (Ag Facts)
- Goats, sheep, and cows don't have upper teeth in the front of their mouth (incisors).
- A breed of chicken called an Aracauna lays eggs that are a light blue or green color.
- The word "cow" is often used to refer to cattle in general, however, cow actually refers to female cattle.
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
- Display the a picture of each of the six major farm animals for students to see (cattle, pigs, sheep, chickens, turkeys, horses.)
- Ask the students:
- "What do all of these animals have in common?" (they live on farms, they provide milk, meat, or eggs for us to eat, etc.)
- "What is different about these animals?" (size, shape, food they produce, horses are used to help with work or to ride for recreation, etc)
- "If we were going to sort them into different groups, how would you sort them? Why?" (two legs vs. four legs, feathers vs. hair/fur, big vs. small, etc) You can have the students physically sort pictures of the animals or the cards if you would like.
- As you discuss the similarities and differences, point out that all of the animals grow from babies into adults and that they need specific things to live and grow. In this lesson, students will be learning about farm animals, how they grow through their life, and what they need to live.
Before class copy the Animal Flashcards back to back, so the term will be on the front side and the information about that picture is on the front and the information is on the back side. Print the first page with all of the mother terms on pink paper (or another color), the second page with the father cards blue, and the final page with the newborn terms green or yellow. Cut out the cards (using the lines on the front as a guide) and place them in a hat, box, or other container. If you have more than 16 students in your class, make multiple copies of the newborn animals that have more than one offspring at a time. Ideally you would have just enough cards so each student will receive one.
- Sows have 8 to 12 piglets so you could make up to twelve piglet cards.
- Turkeys and chickens have 10-15 young so you could make up to 12 or 15 for each.
- Sheep have 1-3 lambs so you could make up to three lamb cards.
Activity 1: Needs of Animals
- With the six farm animal pictures still on the board from the Interest Approach, ask the students what these animals need to survive. When a student replies with one of the five elements of survival (food, water, shelter, space, air), ask which of the animals need that element (all animals do!) Have a volunteer come and hold the prop by each animal picture so that by the end of the discussion you will have five students holding props. Help students understand that this visual representation shows us that all of these animals need food, water, shelter, space and air to survive.
- Ask students, "How do animals get these items needed for survival? (Farmers provide them with food, water, shelter and space. The atmosphere provides air that animals breathe - just like humans.)
- Inform the students that farmers need to know a lot about their animals to make sure that the animals are taken care of and grow big and strong because they provide food for us.
- Help students begin to understand the skills a farmer must have to properly care for their animals by completing the activity, How Many Hats Does a Farmer Wear?
Activity 2: Farm Animal Life Cycles
- Explain to your students that in your container (the box or hat you prepared prior to the lesson) you have cards that represent a mother, father and baby for each of the livestock animals. Show students the designated place in the room where each livestock species will gather
- Example: The mother sheep, father sheep, and baby sheep will all gather in the front corner. You can place the picture of the livestock animal (used earlier in this lesson) in the location to clarify where each animal species should gather.
- Have each student draw an animal card from your container and then travel to their designated gathering spot.
- Instruct the students to share the information on their card with the other students in their gathering spot.
- Once students have shared with their group, ask for each animal group to volunteer and share the information about the mother, father, and baby to the rest of the class.
- Discuss with students how these animal families or groups change over time. Help students understand:
- Young/babies will grow and become mothers and fathers.
- Mothers and fathers will continue to have babies.
- Mothers and fathers will grow old and eventually die.
- All animal species can be used for meat and many other by-products. (Note: horses are not used for meat in the United States.) Farmers send animals that are raised for meat and by-products to market (slaughter) when they reach the age/size to produce the most nutritious product for humans to consume.
- Hand out the Farm Animal bookmarks.
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation
After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:
- Farm animals such as cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, and turkeys provide milk, meat, and eggs for humans to eat.
- Farmers raise these animals and are responsible to care for them. This includes providing food, water, shelter, space to grow, and air to breath.
- All farm animals go through a life cycle that begins when they are born/hatched. Baby animals grow into adult animals and can become parents.
Visit a local farm to see real-life farm animals
Create an opportunity for students to write about a day in the life of a specific animal. A writing prompt might be: I woke up this morning and I had magically been transformed into a ______________ (calf, bull, hen, etc.)
View videos clips on livestock production in Minnesota.
Use the About Farm Animals Mini Kit for students to learn more about what farm animals eat and what they produce.
Suggested Companion Resources
- Farm Pop-ups (Activity)
- A Day in the Life of a Farmer (Book)
- A Young Shepherd (Book)
- Brave Dogs, Gentle Dogs (Book)
- Down on the Farm: Pigs (Book)
- Farm Animals (Book)
- Farm Animals: Chickens (Book)
- Farm Animals: Sheep (Book)
- Farming (Book)
- From Sheep to Sweater (Book)
- Pigs (Book)
- Sheep on the Farm (Book)
- The Goat Lady (Book)
- About Farm Animals Mini Kit (Kit)
- About...Books (Kit)
- Animal Facts (Poster, Map, Infographic)
- Sheep Crossing (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.
Grade 1: 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 1Communicate observations about the similarities and differences between offspring and between populations. Meeting one or more of the following indicators: a) Communicate observations about plants and animals, including humans, and how they resemble their parents. b) Analyze the individual similarities and differences within and across larger groups.
Objective 2Living things change and depend upon their environment to satisfy their basic needs. Meeting one or more of the following indicators: a) Make observations about living things and their environment using the five senses. b) Identify how natural earth materials (e.g., food, water, air, light, and space), help to sustain plant and animal life. c) Describe and model life cycles of living things.
Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
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)
Common Core Connections
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.
Language: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.4Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.
1-LS3: Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits
1-LS3-1Make observations to construct an evidence-based account that young plants and animals are like, but not exactly like, their parents.
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.