National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
Let's Raise a Barn
3 - 5
Two 50-minute sessions
Students will explore the benefits and functions of different types of barns and use problem-solving skills to build a model of a hay barn that meets specific requirements.
Interest Approach — Engagement:
- Picture of a local barn or Traditional Barn Photo
Activity 1: Types of Barns
- Tuttle’s Red Barn by Richard Michelson
- Computers, laptops, smart phones, or tablets, 1 per center
- Where Our Hens Live: Enriched Colony Housing video
- Robotic Dairy Farm Adventure video
- A Field Trip to Ohio Pig Farms video
- The Willing Equine Barn Tour video
- Sheep Farming Sheep Housing video
- Barn Video Viewing Guides, 2 per student
- Venn Diagram, 1 per student
Activity 2: Hay Barn Engineering
- Hay Making at the Joseph Decuis Farm video
- 50 wooden craft sticks
- 2 pieces of 9" X 12" construction paper
- Craft glue
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
- Sheep Farming Sheep Housing
- Robotic Dairy Farm Adventure
- The Willing Equine Barn Tour
- A Field Trip to Ohio Pig Farms
- Hay Making at the Joseph Decuis Farm
- Where Our Hens Live: Enriched Colony Housing
agriculture: the science or occupation of cultivating the soil, producing crops, and raising livestock
barn: a farm building used for storage or housing livestock
farmer: person who owns or manages a farm, cultivates land or crops or raises animals (e.g., livestock or fish)
hay: grass that has been cut and dried as a feed source for livestock
livestock: farm animals
Did you know? (Ag Facts)
- The first barns built in America came from design ideas brought over from England by the colonists.1
- In the 1800s, barns were painted red because red paint was the cheapest paint. Red paint contained rust which gave the paint its red color, prevented moss from growing on a wooden barn, and kept barns warmer in the winter by absorbing the sun's rays.2
- Hay is different from straw. Hay is made up of grass, legumes, and other herbaceous plants that have been cut and dried to be used to feed livestock. Straw comes from the stems of cereal grains and is typically used for animal bedding.
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
- Project a picture of a local barn or the Traditional Barn Photo onto a large screen. Ask students to identify what it is and the purpose of the building.
- Make a list on the board of the students' ideas about how a barn is used.
- Ask students what color they think of when they think of barns. Answers may vary. Ask students why they think so many barns are red? Explain that, a long time ago, red paint was the cheapest paint. Red paint contained rust, which gave the paint its red color and helped to prevent moss from growing on a wooden barn. Clarify that we see many different colored barns today, but some people still choose to paint them the traditional red color.
- Explain to the students that they will be exploring the many purposes that barns can serve.
Activity One: Types of Barns
- Read the story, Tuttle’s Red Barn, by Richard Michelson. Discuss with students that barns serve many purposes for farmers. Barns can be used to shelter livestock, to produce a specific farm product, to store farm products and equipment, or for a combination of purposes. In this story, the author takes readers on a journey through time of how one family grew their farm with the changing times and how they adapted the function of their barn to their farming needs.
- Explain to the students that one type of barn is a livestock barn. Livestock barns shelter animals and protect them from predators, diseases, bad weather, and extreme temperatures. Livestock barns are engineered to meet the needs of specific livestock—dairy cows, beef cattle, turkeys, chickens, sheep, pigs, etc. Access to feed, water, lighting, and fresh air, as well as waste management and sanitation, must be taken into consideration when designing a barn for livestock.
- Have each student choose two types of livestock barns from the list below:
- Poultry Barn
- Dairy Barn
- Pig Barn
- Horse Barn
- Sheep Barn
- Create six centers. Each center should have a computer, laptop, smart phone, or tablet that is set up to show one of the following videos:
- Provide each student with two Barn Video Viewing Guides, one for each type of barn they chose. Explain to the students that they are going to view videos that provide information about the two different types of barns they chose. They will use their viewing guides to record their notes about the barns.
- Have the students go to the center with the video about their first barn choice. At the center, the students should view the video and complete their first viewing guide together. Have the students repeat this step with their second barn choice.
- After both viewing guides have been completed, provide each student with a Venn Diagram. Have the students work independently to complete the graphic organizer by using the information from their viewing guides to compare and contrast the two types of barns they chose.
Activity Two: Hay Barn Engineering
- Show the students the video Hay Making at the Joseph Decuis Farm. Students can view the entire process of harvesting, baling, and stacking the hay or only the process of stacking hay bales starting at minute 10:22 and ending at minute 13:02.
- Lead a discussion about the benefits of storing hay bales inside a barn. Integrate the following points into the discussion. Storing hay in a barn:
- maintains better hay quality
- maximizes the nutritional value of the hay
- exposes the hay to less moisture and sunlight
- decreases the likeliness of spoilage
- decreases hay waste
- cuts costs
- Explain to the students that they will design and construct a model of a hay barn that will be used to store 4' x 4' round bales of hay. The tractor that will be used to stack the hay can only stack two bales high. The challenge is for the students to build a barn that maximizes the barn space to fit as much hay inside as possible. For the purposes of the models, 1 inch = 1 foot. During the engineering process, encourage students to measure the interior volume of their barns (length x width x height).
- Explain to the students that farmers are constrained by the amount of money they can spend on building materials to build a barn. The students will also be constrained by the amount of materials they can use to build their barn model.
- Allow students to work independently, as partners, or in small groups to design and construct their models. Provide each student, partnership, or group with the following materials:
- 50 wooden craft sticks
- 2 pieces of 9" x 12" construction paper
- Craft glue
- To encourage critical thinking, have students consider the following questions before and after the barn models are completed:
- How many sides does your barn have?
- Will you bring the hay through a side or end of the barn?
- Is your barn accessible to a tractor?
- Where is the best location for a barn?
- How many bales will you put in your barn?
- What type of materials would be used to build a real hay barn?
- Can your barn withstand strong winds, ice, and snow?
- When the barn models are completed, determine which barn can fit the most round hay bales stacked two bales high.
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation
After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:
- Barns are agricultural buildings that can serve a variety of purposes.
- Barns can be used to shelter livestock, to produce a specific farm product, to store farm products and equipment, or for a combination of purposes.
- The specific use of a barn determines its design.
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 design a barn that meets the needs of a specific farm animal. Students should consider the following questions when designing their livestock barn:
- How will the animals will access food?
- How will the animals access water?
- How will the animals access fresh air?
- How will the animals receive the appropriate amount of light
- How will a proper temperature be maintained within the barn?
- How will the barn be kept clean and sanitary?
Have students calculate the approximate amount of hay that will fit inside their hay barn model. First, students will need to find their barn volume (length x width x height). Then they find the bale volume, which is the volume of a cylinder (h x π x r2). They would then take the barn volume divided by the bale volume to get an approximate amount of hay that will fit in the barn.
Suggested Companion Resources
- Barn (Book)
- Hey, Hey, Hay! (Book)
- The Perfect Barn (Book)
- Tuttle's Red Barn: The Story of America's Oldest Family Farm (Book)
Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
Plants and Animals for Food, Fiber & Energy
- Provide examples of specific ways farmers meet the needs of animals (T2.3-5.d)
Science, Technology, Engineering & Math
- Describe how technology helps farmers/ranchers increase their outputs (crop and livestock yields) with fewer inputs (less water, fertilizer, and land) while using the same amount of space (T4.3-5.b)
Education Content Standards
5-8 Geography Standard 16: The changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution, and importance of resources.
Objective 1People can have different viewpoints regarding the meaning and use of resources.
Objective 3Humans can manage resources to sustain or prolong their use.
K-4 History Standard 1A: Family life now and in the recent past; family life in various places long ago.
Objective 3For various cultures represented in the classroom, compare and contrast family life now with family life over time and between various cultures and consider such things as communication, technology, homes, transportation, recreation, school and cultural traditions.
3-5-ETS1: Engineering Design
3-5-ETS1-2Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Common Core Connections
Reading: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.2Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.3Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
Speaking and Listening: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1Prepare 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
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.
Mathematics: Practice Standards
CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP1Make 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.
CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP5Use 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.