National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix

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Cultures, Food, and Communities Around the World

Grade Level(s)

3 - 5

Estimated Time

Two 45-minute activities, plus research time for activity two

Purpose

Students will explore different cultures around the world, compare worldwide communities with local communities, and explain the interrelationship between the environment and community development. 

Materials

Interest Approach – Engagement:

  • Holiday Foods Around the World PowerPoint 

Activity 1: What's for Lunch? 

  • World map or World Hunger Map
  • Lunch Cards handout, cut and laminated
  • Whiteboard-safe tape or magnets  
  • What's for Lunch? by Andrea Curtis 

Activity 2: Building from the Ground Up 

  • South America Agriculture Map, 1 copy per group 
  • Building from the Ground Up Group Sheet, 1 per student
  • Building from the Ground Up Scenarios (cut out each scenario individually) 

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

Essential Links

Vocabulary

agriculture: the cultivating of the soil, producing of crops, and raising of livestock

community: a group of people living in the same place

culture: the customs, arts, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group

tradition: the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation

Did you know? (Ag Facts)

  • About 46 million turkeys are eaten in America each Thanksgiving.1
  • It’s believed that the Pilgrims made a similar dish to pumpkin pie but without the crust. Before modern food preservation, pumpkin was typically boiled or roasted, then mixed with spices.2
  • Recipes for stuffing date back to Ancient Rome! These recipes suggested stuffing hares, chickens, sardines, and squid to add more flavor.2

Background Agricultural Connections

People around the world have their own unique traditions, from daily household responsibilities and family holidays to religious and historical ethnic customs. Many of these traditions center around food and its preparation. Food is a central element of culture around the world. 

For Americans, no Fourth of July celebration would be complete without a barbecue and watermelon. Thanksgiving isn't the same without turkey and mashed potatoes. However, it is important for students to understand that people in different countries have similar feelings about their own traditions and foods. Although their foods may be different, most are equally nutritious and based on the historical traditions of the region. 

Today, most people are familiar with many different regional cuisines, and it is easy and convenient to eat foods produced in faraway parts of the country or even other parts of the world. However, it hasn't always been that way. For much of human history, people were limited to the foods that could be produced in their region. Before we had refrigerators and freezers to preserve food, and airplanes to transport food quickly around the world, people had to eat locally. Diets were based on the plants and animals that could thrive locally. The connection between geography, climate, and food production directly influenced the location and development of ancient civilizations. Many ancient civilizations were built on the banks of the rivers where soils were fertile and water for irrigation was readily available. Ancient civilizations practiced agriculture to meet their needs for food, fiber, and other materials. The second activity in this lesson will allow students to get a firsthand look at how geography affects community location and development. 

Interest Approach – Engagement

  1. Begin by asking the students if their families cook any special meals for holidays. Allow the students to share what they eat for different holidays and why they eat that specific meal. Is it a meal that's unique to their family? Is it a common meal that most families in the United States eat? 
  2. Using the Holiday Foods Around the World PowerPoint, show the students examples of traditional foods other countries eat during different holidays. Use the following questions to guide a discussion:
    • Does anyone in class celebrate any of these holidays? (If students in class celebrate different holidays because of their culture or religion, allow them to share information about that holiday. Help encourage diversity in class and introduce students to other holidays and cultures.)
    • What types of foods were shown in the PowerPoint?
    • What ingredients do these foods contain?
    • Do you cook or bake with the same ingredients?
    • Would you try these foods? Why or why not?

Procedures

Activity 1 - What's for Lunch?

  1. Ask the students what they like to eat for lunch. Allow the students to raise their hands and share some examples with you. Discuss where their food comes from. Did someone grow it? Was it produced from an animal? If possible, bring in examples of food eaten at school lunch that day. 
  2. Project a map of the world that includes labeled countries on the board. The provided World Hunger Map can also be used. Using this map allows for a discussion about the different types of lunches in hungry countries (India, Afghanistan, Kenya). 
  3. Pass out one lunch card from the Lunch Cards handout to each student. (Cut and laminate each lunch card prior to the lesson.) If there are not enough lunch cards for each student, have students pair up and work as a team. 
  4. Explain to the students that on their lunch card is a common lunch item eaten in another country. Allow the students to guess which country eats that lunch item by reading the clues located on each card. 
  5. Using tape or magnets, have each student place their lunch card on the country where they think that food is eaten. If desired, a list of the correct countries can be written on the board to help students with their guesses. The correct countries and food items for the lunch cards are listed below:
    • United States: pizza, milk, fruit 
    • Japan: miso soup, fish 
    • France: cheese 
    • Canada: packaged treats, sandwiches 
    • Brazil: bananas, passion fruit juice, beans 
    • England: roast beef and gravy, Yorkshire pudding
    • Russia: borsch, kasha
    • Peru: guinea pig, quinoa
    • Afghanistan: biscuits 
    • China: hot soup, bok choy
    • Mexico: torta, toasted grasshoppers
    • India: dal 
    • Kenya: porridge 
  6. Share the book What's for Lunch by Andrea Curtis with your students. Show students the photographs of lunches from different parts of the world. Discuss the contents of each lunch and the country where it is commonly eaten. 
  7. Allow students to see if their initial guess was correct. If necessary, have students move their lunch card(s) to the correct country as you read. 
  8. Discuss some of the reasons why different foods are more common in different parts of the world. Consider asking the following questions to lead a discussion:
    • Why do you think Canada and the United States eat very similar food? (Close to each other geographically, similar cultures, etc.)
    • Which countries provide healthy meals for their students? How can you tell? (Discuss certain countries banning soda from school vending machines, serving fresh fruit, etc.) 
    • If you could choose to eat lunch from another country, which country would you choose? Why?  

Activity 2 - Building from the Ground Up 

  1. Divide your class into two to four groups or address the class as one group. Assign or allow each group to select a country in South America.
  2. Pass out a South America Agriculture Map to each group. Have the groups locate their countries on the map, color their assigned country, and put an X where their community will be located.
  3. Invite the students to pretend that they are the founding members of a rural, underdeveloped area in their selected country. Brainstorm as a class the things they might want to know about their countries before they can successfully build a community (climate, average rainfall, soil type, common crops, etc.) Use the South America Agriculture Map to guide students in their research. Allow students one or two class periods to research their countries.
  4. Provide each student with a Building From the Ground Up Group Sheet. Have the students establish their new communities by answering questions 1-7 on the group sheet. Allow students to share their new communities with the rest of the class. Encourage students to question one another about their communities. Is anyone able to develop a community without including agriculture?
  5. Throughout the next week, one day at a time, provide each group with scenarios affecting their communities. You may come up with your own scenarios or use the provided Building From the Ground Up Scenarios. (Keep in mind that some of the provided scenarios are region-specific and will only affect certain countries.) Each group should receive at least three scenarios throughout the week. Ask the groups to decide how they will personally be affected by the scenario and how their entire community will be affected. Allow the group to use problem-solving skills to decide how to deal with the different scenarios. Have groups answer the questions from each scenario. Encourage group members to work together and even suggest they “seek aid” from other communities in other countries. Some groups who have beneficial scenarios might consider helping out a struggling, neighboring community. Consider asking the following questions to lead a class discussion:
    • Did your scenario positively or negatively affect your community?
    • What crop/livestock was affected?
    • How did your community handle the situation?
    • Did you seek aid from another community? How were they able to help you?
    • How do these scenarios apply to supply and demand?
  6. At the end of the project, discuss how the communities evolved from the beginning to the end. Discuss the interdependence experienced throughout the project.

Concept Elaboration and Evaluation:

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

  • Food is a central element of culture around the world.
  • People around the world have their own unique traditions.
  • For much of human history, people were limited to the foods that could be produced in their region.
  • Today, most people in the United States have access to foods produced in other parts of the world.

Important
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

  • Consider making a recipe from another country in class, or bring samples of food from other countries to class. Discuss traditions or holidays associated with the food.

  • Ask the students, "What are some foods we eat here in the United States?" After listing a variety of foods, explain that because most Americans came to the United States from other countries, so did much of the food we eat. Identify the countries of origin for the foods the students listed.

Suggested Companion Resources

Agricultural Literacy Outcomes

Culture, Society, Economy & Geography

  • Describe how supply and demand impact the price of agricultural goods (T5.3-5.a)
  • Explain the value of agriculture and how it is important in daily life. (T5.3-5.d)
  • Provide examples of agricultural products available, but not produced in their local area and state (T5.3-5.e)

Education Content Standards

Within GEOGRAPHY

5-8 Geography Standard 6: How culture and experience influence people's perceptions of places and regions.

  • Objective 1
    Objective 1
    People's different perceptions of places and regions are influenced by their life experience.

K-4 Geography Standard 1: How to use maps and other geographic representations, geospatial technologies, and spatial thinking to understand and communicate information.

  • Objective 1
    Objective 1
    Properties and functions of geographic representations—such as maps, globes, graphs, diagrams, aerial and other photographs, remotely sensed images, and geographic visualizations.

K-4 Geography Standard 6: How culture and experience influence people's perceptions of places and regions.

  • Objective 1
    Objective 1
    People can have different views of the same places and regions.

Common Core Connections

Reading: Anchor Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1
    Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

Speaking and Listening: Anchor Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1
    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.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2
    Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.3
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.3
    Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.4
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.4
    Present 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.

Writing: Anchor Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.1
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.1
    Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

 

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