Resources for Teachers

Food, Farms and You

Although we participate in the food system each day by eating and shopping, many people are not aware of how food gets from field to table. Even young people from rural areas are increasingly becoming removed from their local food system. Food, Farms and You is a set of lessons compiled by educators at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara County for children in grades K-5. We have organized lessons that are fun and informative for educators and students alike. We seek to engage students with hands-on lessons and get them to think about the roles that food and the local food system play in their lives. This program was funded by the Grigg Lewis Foundation, Inc.

What is a Food System? (K-5)

This is the first lesson in the food system unit that should be taught prior to any of the other lessons. Although we participate in the food system each day by eating, most of us do not often think about how food gets from field to table. For this lesson students will be read the story “How Did That Get In My Lunchbox? The Story of Food”, written by Chris Butterworth. The book provides several examples to help students understand all the steps of where our food comes from: how its harvested, processed, packaged and transported and ends up being consumed by them. At the end of the story a food system diagram is used to reinforce and apply what they learned from the story. Older students will be able to then play a game called Farm To Plate.


Buzzy, Buzzy Bee (K-5)

Many plants need to be pollinated to produce seeds or fruits. Without pollination, fertilization does not occur, and plants will not produce seeds or fruit. Students play a game in which they pretend to be honeybees and apple trees. In the process, they learn about plant pollination. This lesson is from the Food, Land and People Curriculum.

Exploring Maple Syrup (K-5)

The Sugar Maple is the official tree of New York, and is very popular for its yellow and orange leaves in the fall. While the process of harvesting and processing maple sap into syrup is not a large component of the New York State economy, it is an interesting and tasty part of it. Through this lesson students will understand how maple sap is harvested and processed into syrup. They will also use their sense to learn the characteristics of maple syrup. This lesson is from New York State Ag in the Classroom.


The Traveling Tomato (K-5)

This lesson is an introductory activity to show students how our food travels great distances from field to our plate. There are many issues that can be associated with importing food from far away, and this lesson will give students an understanding of how their personal food choices have a global, environmental and personal impact.

Food Miles (4-5)

Where does my food come from? In this active lesson, students will consider the sources of our food, and the distance food travels to reach our plates. Students will trace the steps that a meal either sourced locally or non-locally, took to reach the plate. Students will calculate the miles each meal traveled. They will also learn the benefits of purchasing locally.


Preserve the Harvest (K-5)

In this lesson, students will learn about food preservation methods and the benefits. Students will taste fresh and dehydrated foods and compare. They will do a scientific rehydration experiment, measuring and recording data and then discuss results. A dehydrator will be setup to dry fruit in the classroom for a snack the following day.

Great Grains (K-5)

Students will learn about how wheat and grains are processed and used to make everyday foods. They will also learn what grains are grown locally in Niagara County and they will gain first-hand experience grinding wheat berries into flour and tasting a variety of breads.


Pack It Up (K-5)

Students learn how food packages are designed. The packaging design and materials must keep food clean, protected food from chemical or physical changes and identify a food appealingly. The students will complete a brand awareness activity.

Ship the Chip (2-5)

In this lesson, students learn the three main functions of food packaging. Then, in the associated activity, students will design and create their own food packages for a potato chip. Finally, they will test and evaluate their design.


Juicy Oranges (3-5)

Why is it more expensive to buy processed foods than unprocessed foods? Students will be able to list advantages and disadvantages of buying processed foods. As an activity, students will learn the process of making orange juice and role-play each step.

Farmers Market (K-2)

This lesson will Introduce students to the system farmers use to sell the vegetables and fruits they grow and sell locally. A farmers market will be set up in your classroom where the students will sort, sell and buy apples.


Plant Parts We Eat (K-5)

Which part of that plant do you eat? What are your favorite root, leaf, stem, bark, flower, fruit and vegetable? In this lesson, students will identify and classify the parts of plants we eat. Students will also have the opportunity to taste different vegetables from each type of plant part.

Taste New York (K-5)

Students will learn about New York State Agriculture with an emphasis on Niagara County Agriculture products. By the end of the lesson, students will be able to name products grown in New York State and which foods are grown right in their own Niagara County. Students will have the opportunity to sample products grown and produced in New York State.


Wiggly Worms; Living Garbage Disposals (K-5)

Cornell Cooperative Extension 4-H Educator Bonnie Benton can visit your classroom. Students will learn the role worms have as nature’s recyclers and how they dispose of our unwanted food and garden debris. They will learn about vermicomposting and how worms eat our food waste. Students will be given the opportunity to examine a worm with a magnifying glass and learn about the anatomy of a worm.

Food Recycling (K-5)

The lesson introduces the concept of recycling food waste by composting. Students investigate food waste in their school and the nation, and gain awareness of recycling food waste as a better way to care for the earth. Students will be able to differentiate between the kinds of foods that can and cannot be recycled. As an activity, the class will make their own decomposition columns to use and observe in the classroom.

For supplemental materials for the Food, Farms & You lessons, please contact Amanda Henning at 716-433-8839 ext. 231 or


Amanda Henning
Agriculture & Food Systems Team Leader
(716) 433-8839 ext. 231

Last updated April 9, 2020