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Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix

Search Lesson Plans & Companion Resources

FoodMASTER: Meat, Poultry and Fish

Grade Level(s)

3 - 5

Estimated Time

Three 60-minute sessions


In this lesson students will learn how animals utilize nutrients and energy from food humans cannot digest and convert it to meat, a food rich in zinc, iron, and protein. Students will discover how hamburger is formulated for leanness, compare two kinds of hotdogs, and learn about fish.


Activity 1: 

  • For the teacher: Food scale, 4 paper plates, double burner hot plate, 2 frying pans, 1-2 spatulas, 2 liquid measuring cups, thermometer, 1 pound 70% lean ground beef (thawed), 1 pound 90% lean ground beef (thawed).
  • For each student: 1 plate.
  • Hamburger Hints student handout
  • Lean and Fat student handout

Activity 2: 

  • For the teacher: 2 large pots, double burner hot plate, tongs, 1 plate, 1 table knife, cost for each package of hot dogs, water, 1 package regular hot dogs,1 package turkey dogs.
  • For each student: 1 plate, food labels for each kind of hotdog. Optional: 1/2 bun, ketchup, mustard.
  • Hot Diggity Dog student handout
  • Healthier Hog Dogs student handout

Activity 3:

  • For the teacher: Mixing bowl, 1 set dry measuring cups, spoon, fork, 1-2 table knives.
  • Doubled recipe: 2 salmon pouches (6-7 ounces each), 8-ounce package light cream cheese, 8-ounce jar chunky salsa, 1 1/2 cups finely chopped vegetables (celery, zucchini, cucumbers or carrots).
  • Tripled recipe: 3 salmon pouches (6-7 ounces each), 2 8-ounce packages light cream cheese, 8-ounce jar chunky salsa, 2 1/4 cups finely chopped vegetables (celery, zucchini, cucumbers or carrots).
  • For each student: 1 plate, 2 whole-grain crackers.

Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)

Essential Links


waste: part of the meat that is not used/eaten, such as grease

omega-3 fatty acids: heart-healthy fats found in fish

shellfish: fish with soft bodies inside a shell or exoskeleton. Examples: Clams and crabs

lean: meat without any fat

finfish: fish with bony skeletons. Examples: catfish, flounder and salmon

exoskeleton: hard covering on the outside of a living thing that supports and protects it

casing: outer covering of a hotdog

Background Agricultural Connections

Introduction to FoodMASTER:
FoodMASTER (Food, Mathematics and Science Teaching Enhancement Resource) is a compilation of programs aimed at using food as a tool to teach mathematics and science. It is our theory that if food is used as a tool to teach mathematics and science, students will be better prepared to demonstrate and apply mathematic and scientific knowledge. Because students encounter food on a daily basis, they have preexisting contextual experiences preparing them for learning new and relevant mathematics and science material.

Food is conducive to hands-on and virtual, inquiry-based, active learning that uses multiple senses to engage students in the learning process. Utilizing food allows for an interdisciplinary approach to learning concepts and ideas in a variety of scientific subjects like general science, biology, chemistry, microbiology, nutrition and health. Additionally, food labs are a dynamic way to teach mathematics concepts such as numbers and operations, algebra, geometry, measurement and problem solving.

The knowledge and skill development that can be inspired by the FoodMASTER approach is limitless. Proper use of measurement tools, data collection and interpretation, application and generalization, classification and organization, graphing and comparative analysis, understanding chemical changes, observing functions of ingredients and controlling variables, pricing, critical thinking, self-directing learning, and team building are only a few of the potential knowledge and skill development areas for intermediate grade students experiencing FoodMASTER’s scientific inquiry labs.

Additional FoodMASTER lessons can be found to cover health and nutrition topics such as: Food Safety, Vegetables, Fruits, Milk and Cheese, Eggs, Fats and Oils, Grains, Measurement, and Meal Management.

Background for this lesson:
Meat, poultry, fish, eggs and beans are all part of the protein foods group. Meat comes from animals, such as cows (beef), pigs (pork), lambs, rabbits, deer (venison) and goats. Chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese and other birds we eat are all called poultry. Catfish, flounder, salmon, crabs and shrimp are all fish. Meat, poultry and fish are full of protein along with other vitamins and minerals.

In this lesson, students will:

  1. identify the healthier ground beef and compare different percentages;
  2. select appropriate measurement tools for measuring weight and volume;
  3. practice measurement skills using appropriate units for weight and volume and real-life mathematics to practice subtraction and division;
  4. find serving size, calories, total fat, saturated fat and sodium on food label Nutrition Facts panels;
  5. correctly evaluate hotdogs based on nutritional value and taste;
  6. apply division and multiplication skills to solve problems;
  7. identify examples of finfish and shellfish;
  8. accurately measure ingredients and communicate the importance of using mathematics to solve real life problems;
  9. double and triple a recipe, complete a chart, and pull information from a table to answer questions; and
  10. understand that fish are healthy because of omega-3 fatty acids.

Interest Approach – Engagement

  1. Brainstorm with your students and make a list on the board of all the different types of meat familiar to them.
  2. Ask students if they know where these meats originate.  The majority of the meat in our food supply is produced by animals that are raised on farms and ranches. Meat, provided by animals, is an important and abundant source of protein in human diets.
  3. Animals can utilize nutrients and energy from food that humans cannot digest.  To illustrate this to your students show them this picture of a pasture and rangeland. Ask your students, "If this is where you lived and you couldn't go anywhere else, could you survive eating only the grass and other plants in this picture?"  Ask them, "Do you see anything that would taste good?" The correct answer is, no.  Humans cannot digest and utilize the energy and nutrients found in pastures and on rangelands.  However, many livestock animals that are raised for their meat, can!  Cattle, sheep, and goats all have a stomach with 4 chambers.  They can digest and gain nutrients and energy from feed that humans cannot.  The result is that livestock animals convert and utilize energy to produce food (meat and milk) that humans can gain benefit from.  In this lesson, students will be learning about the nutritional benefits of meat in our diets.


Activity 1: Lean and Fat

  1. Read Hamburger Hints and complete the Doodle Bugs.
  2. Begin the scientific inquiry by weighing the beef. First, place a paper plate on the scale and zero the scale. Add 70% lean ground beef and weigh. Repeat with 90% lean ground beef. Be sure to explain to students why you zeroed the scale — to make the weight of the plate disappear.
  3. Place the 70% and 90% lean ground beefs in separate frying pans. Heat on the double burners over medium-high heat.
  4. While the meat is browning, ask your students the following questions: “How is the appearance of the meat changing? What is the percent fat of the 70% lean ground beef? What is the percent fat of the 90% lean ground beef? Which type of ground beef has more fat? Would it be healthier to eat 70% lean ground beef or 90% lean ground beef? If the meat didn’t have any fat, what percent fat would it be and what percent lean would it be?” Remind students that the percent fat and percent lean always add up to 100%.
  5. Cook the meat thoroughly to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Then drain the grease into small measuring cups.
  6. Let the grease cool. Then ask students to read the volume of the grease.
  7. Measure the after cooking weight of each type of ground beef. Remember to zero the scale with a new plate on top before adding the ground beef.
  8. Instruct students to complete the Ground Beef Facts table on the Lean and Fat handout and answer the questions.
  9. Students may taste the two ground beefs. Ask students which they like best.
  10. Work as a class to calculate the before and after cooking cost per ounce of each type of ground beef.

Activity 2:
Scientific Inquiry- Healthier Hot Dog

  1. Place two pots on a double burner. Fill each pot three-fourths full with water and begin heating over medium heat.
  2. Read Hot Diggity Dog and complete the Doodle Bugs.
  3. When the water boils, carefully add four to eight regular hotdogs to the first pot and four to eight turkey hotdogs to the second pot.
  4. Boil hotdogs for three to five minutes (or as directed per package instructions).
  5. While the hotdogs are boiling, your students may complete the Hotdog Facts table. Remind students where to find serving size, calories, total fat, saturated fat and sodium on food labels.
  6. When the hotdogs are done, use tongs to remove them from the pot and place them on a plate.
  7. Use a table knife to slice the hotdogs into chunks. Place a sample of each type of hotdog on each student’s plate. Optional: Squirt ketchup and/or mustard for dipping on each student’s plate. If desired, place whole hotdogs in a bun and then cut into smaller portions for each student to try.
  8. Discuss the nutrition and taste of each hotdog. Instruct students to complete the Cost of One Hotdog table and remaining questions.

Activity 3:
Something is Fishy

  1. Read Something is Fishy and complete the Doodle Bugs.
  2. Explain doubling and tripling a recipe. Complete the first row of the Double and Triple Recipes table as a class.
  3. Students will complete the rest of the table as a class, in small groups or individually. Use the chart to help students explore the relationship between addition and multiplication.
  4. Classes with about 24 students should use the doubled recipe. Larger classes may choose to use the tripled recipe.
  5. Follow the Scientific Inquiry: Fish in the Kitchen directions to prepare the salmon spread. Allow students to help measure and stir ingredients.
  6. Instruct students to complete the While You Wait: Oh My! Omega page, while waiting to be served the salmon spread.
  7. Students will taste the salmon and answer the remaining questions.
  8. Refrigerate any leftovers.

While you Wait: O My! Omega

  1. Students will read the short paragraph from O My! Omega student worksheet.
  2. Direct students to read the chart and use the chart to answer the three questions.
  3. Discuss the heart health benefits of eating fish. Remind students that fried fish is less healthy.

Concept Elaboration and Evaluation

After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:

  • Meat is typically provided by livestock animals such as cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens and turkeys as well as fish. These animals are raised on farms and ranches.
  • Livestock animals can utilize nutrients from food that humans cannot (such as grass). Animals convert this energy into meat that humans can gain vital nutrients from.
  • Meat provides zinc, iron, and protein to our diets.

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!


Enriching Activities

  • Hungry Hens: Complete this math enrichment activity. Students will learn more about balancing a hen's diet to allow her to have the calcium and nutrients she needs to produce eggs.

Suggested Companion Resources

Agricultural Literacy Outcomes

Food, Health, and Lifestyle

  • Distinguish between processed and unprocessed food (T3.3-5.c)
  • Identify food sources of required food nutrients (T3.3-5.g)

Education Content Standards


Health Standard 5: Demonstrate the ability to use decision-making skills to enhance health.

  • 5.5.5
    Choose a healthy option when making a decision.

Health Standard 7: Demonstrate the ability to practice health-enhancing behaviors and avoid or reduce health risks.

  • 7.5.1
    Identify responsible personal health behaviors.
  • 7.5.2
    Demonstrate a variety of healthy practices and behaviors to maintain or improve personal health.

Common Core Connections

Reading: Anchor Standards

    Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

Speaking and Listening: Anchor Standards

    Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

Language: Anchor Standards

    Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

Mathematics: Practice Standards

    Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. Students start by explaining to themselves the meaning of a problem and looking for entry points to its solution. They analyze givens, constraints, relationships, and goals. They make conjectures about the form and meaning of the solution and plan a solution pathway rather than simply jumping into a solution attempt. They consider analogous problems, and try special cases and simpler forms of the original problem in order to gain insight into its solution. They monitor and evaluate their progress and change course if necessary. Students check their answers to problems using a different method, and they continually ask themselves, “Does this make sense?” They can understand the approaches of others to solving complex problems and identify correspondences between different approaches.
    Reason abstractly and quantitatively. Students make sense of quantities and their relationships in problem situations. They bring two complementary abilities to bear on problems involving quantitative relationships: the ability to decontextualize—to abstract a given situation and represent it symbolically and manipulate the representing symbols as if they have a life of their own, without necessarily attending to their referents—and the ability to contextualize, to pause as needed during the manipulation process in order to probe into the referents for the symbols involved. Quantitative reasoning entails habits of creating a coherent representation of the problem at hand; considering the units involved; attending to the meaning of quantities, not just how to compute them; and knowing and flexibly using different properties of operations and objects.
    Model with mathematics. Students can apply the mathematics they know to solve problems arising in everyday life, society, and the workplace. Students who can apply what they know are comfortable making assumptions and approximations to simplify a complicated situation, realizing that these may need revision later. They are able to identify important quantities in a practical situation and map their relationships using such tools as diagrams, two-way tables, graphs, flowcharts and formulas. They can analyze those relationships mathematically to draw conclusions.
    Use appropriate tools strategically. Students consider the available tools when solving a mathematical problem. These tools might include pencil and paper, concrete models, a ruler, a protractor, a calculator, a spreadsheet, a computer algebra system, a statistical package, or dynamic geometry software. Students at various grade levels are able to identify relevant external mathematical resources, such as digital content located on a website, and use them to pose or solve problems. They are able to use technological tools to explore and deepen their understandings of concepts.

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