National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
Science and Poetry with Almonds
3 - 5
Two 50-minute sessions plus additional time for activities
Students will learn about the almond tree life cycle including tree dormancy, pollination, bloom and kernel development of an almond.
- An Almond Story video (optional if students have not yet seen it)
- KWL Chart (optional)
- Chart paper or whiteboard
- An Almond Story activity book, pages 4, 5, and 6: Mother Nature, the Almond Life Cycle, and Dormancy and Bloom
- Ag-Bite 1: Desktop Gardens from California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom. See tutorial video for more explanation.
- Seed experiment supplies: soil, container-jar lid or plastic soup cup lid, water, ruler, thermometer, journals (students create using copy paper folded, stapled and decorated)
- The Almendro Poem
- Almonds for demonstration
- An Almond Story activity book, page 9: Kernel Development
- Cinquain worksheet
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
cinquain: a simple five-line poem which follows a specific pattern
dormant: a period of time where a plant is alive, but not actively growing; usually during winter months
kernel: a softer, usually edible part of a nut, seed, or fruit stone contained within a hard shell
pollinate: to carry pollen from the stamen to the pistol of a flower
processing plant: a site where raw products, such as food from a farm, are prepared for sale by cleaning, packaging, and/or cooking
Did you know? (Ag Facts)
- Almonds have the most crunch of any tree nut.1
- Over 90 countries receive almonds imported from California.2
- The world's largest almond factory is in Sacramento, California. It processes 2 million pounds of almonds per day.3
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
- Ask student volunteers to name the four seasons. (winter, spring, summer, fall) List them on the board. As you list each season ask your students what makes each season unique and different from one another. (rain, snow, temperature, length of sunshine each day, etc.)
- Ask a student volunteer or two what their least favorite season is. Then, ask the class what would happen if we were to skip that season. For example, if winter was the student's least favorite season, what would happen if we skipped winter? Ask, "Is winter an important season?" "How about summer? Could we skip summer?"
- Introduce the lesson by informing students that each season is important in the growth of our food. Without each season, we would not have as much food to eat. Today we are going to learn why.
- Have a class discussion about what plants need to grow. Add student ideas to the board. The list should include: sunlight, water, air, nutrients, and soil. Trees are considered plants and need the same thing. Have students complete page 4, Mother Nature, in their activity book.
- Put a year-long timeline on chart paper or on the board; label seasons and months. Have students turn to page 5, the Almond Life Cycle in their activity books and follow along as you determine at what point the life cycle stages go on the timeline. For example:
- Almond trees are dormant in the winter- between November and February.
- Trees bloom in the spring, pollination occurs before bloom.
- Almond kernels are developing in March to June.
- During summer, hullsplit occurs.
- In late summer, harvest begins and transportation to the processing plant begins.
- Have students complete page 5, the Almond Life Cycle, in their activity books.
- Have students read and complete page 6 in their activity books on Dormancy and Bloom (or assign as homework). Almond trees are dormant in the winter. They lose all of their leaves and store up nutrients during this time. In the spring, leaves and buds start to form and bees carry pollen between trees. Review as a class.
- Optional: If students are keeping a KWL chart, add information to the chart throughout the lesson.
- Have students work in groups to conduct an experiment on what plants need to grow. Have students make observations daily for several weeks and record their observations and drawings in a journal. Include date, temperature, growth measurements, and any other observations including drawings. Use CFAITC Ag-Bites 1: Desktop Gardens as a guide for growing in your classroom. Have students complete the project with a group oral presentation to share their findings. Possible experiments include:
- Group 1: Plant seeds in different soil types and compare growth.
- Group 2: Plant seeds in different locations with different amounts of sunlight and compare growth.
- Group 3: Plant seeds in different locations with different temperatures (inside, outside, in a refrigerator) and compare growth.
- Group 4: Plant seeds and use different amounts of water and compare growth.
- Begin this activity by reading the poem, The Almendro Poem. Review the poem and what students have learned about almonds so far.
- Inform students that they will be learning about the kernel or seed development of an almond and writing poetry in this activity.
- Hold an almond up and ask, “What can I do with this almond?” Model a response, (I can bake the almond.) "What else can I do with an almond?" (I can eat, chop, slice, touch, etc.) Record student answers on the board, leaving room to add a list of synonyms. Next to the list of words, write “synonyms.” Clarify student understanding of synonyms. Ask for and share examples: eat: chew, swallow, munch...chop: cut, slice, mince. Have students use a thesaurus if needed. Explain to students that their list of words can help them when they’re writing a poem. Using descriptive words when writing helps the reader get a picture in their mind of what the writer is describing. Add other words related to almonds and develop a list of synonyms for students to use.
- Have students read page 9 in their activity books on Kernel Development. Read the activity together. Review the concept of an acrostic (or introduce and model if no prior exposure).
- For more practice, do one class example. Write the word BEE vertically. Add- Buzzing, Everywhere, Every day to each of the letters. Have students complete the activity on page 9.
- Next, have students create their own acrostic poem. Explain that they can use any word but it must be related to almonds. Have students share with their partner. Ask for a few students to share with the whole class.
- Hand out the cinquain worksheet. Review the concept of a cinquain. Have students work with a partner or group to brainstorm a cinquain about almonds, bees, or a machine used in almond production.
- Have students create their own cinquain about almonds.
- Share with a partner, share with the class.
- Have students create several poems each of acrostic poems and cinquain poems. Have them choose their best work to illustrate and put into a class poetry book on almonds. Display for students to read. Have a class story time and have students share their poems with other classes.
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation
After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:
- Each season of the year is important for the growth of almonds.
- Almond trees are dormant in the winter and bloom in the spring. Bees help pollinate the almond blossoms which begins the growth process of the almond.
- Plants, including almond trees need sunlight, water, air, nutrients and soil to grow properly.
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!
Have students research about bees and give an oral report. They should include a visual such as a poster or model.
Try out The Poetry of Agriculture lesson from Idaho Ag in the Classroom.
Have students complete page 8, Pollination, in their Almond Story activity book.
Have students create Life Cycle posters. It can be on almonds, bees, or another type of tree or insect. Students should present their posters.
- First, have students create a rough draft poster on regular size paper. Have them fold their paper into fourths. Label each section with the seasons clockwise from the upper left corner: (winter, spring, summer, fall)
- On a separate piece of paper or their rough draft poster if there is space, have students write one to three sentences of what is happening to the almond during each season.
- After teacher approval of their writing, they may draw a scene to go with the sentences, on their rough draft poster.
- Add more labeling to the poster: dormancy (winter), bloom (spring), hullsplit (summer), almonds (fall), harvest (summer/fall). Also include pollination and show detail of a tree (roots, trunk, branches, leaves) and of an almond (hull, shell, kernel) in a section of the poster.
- Have students evaluate and proofread their own work, then with a partner, and then show you.
- After teacher approval, students may create a full size Almond Season poster based on their rough draft poster. Drawings, labels, and sentences must be included. Students should include the title of the poster as well.
Use the Almond Fact and Activity Sheet to learn more about the production, history, nutrition, and economic value of the almond.
Watch the Almond Story video.
Suggested Companion Resources
- Fun with Almond Math (Activity)
- Harvest Year (Book)
- The Honeybee Man (Book)
- The Life and Times of the Honeybee (Book)
- When the Bees Fly Home (Book)
- Alfalfa Seeds (Kit)
- Honey Bee Study Prints (Poster, Map, Infographic)
- An Almond Story (Multimedia)
- Introduction to Pollination video (Multimedia)
- NMSU Field Trip: Honey (Multimedia)
- The Honey Files (Multimedia)
Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
Agriculture and the Environment
- Explain how the interaction of the sun, soil, water, and weather in plant and animal growth impacts agricultural production (T1.3-5.b)
Food, Health, and Lifestyle
- Diagram the path of production for a processed product, from farm to table (T3.3-5.b)
Education Content Standards
3-LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
3-LS1-1Develop models to describe that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles but all have in common birth, growth, reproduction, and death.
4-LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
4-LS1-1Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.
5-LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
5-LS1-1Support an argument that plants get the materials they need for growth chiefly from air and water.
Common Core Connections
Reading: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.3Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.4Interpret 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.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.5Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.
Speaking and Listening: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.3Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.4Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.5Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.
Language: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.3Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.
Writing: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.3Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.5Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.