Image of wheat

In this module, students will study the agricultural trends in their region to identify the cultural groups that have settled there throughout history. Agriculture and cuisine are fundamental cultural expressions. This module integrates community life with the environment as students begin to delve into the relationship between people and the land. Students will begin to understand how the culture of their community was formed through the complex way in which each culture satisfied their nutritional needs.

Essential Question
Throughout the history of New York State, how have the state's cultural communities met their food needs?

New York State Standards

Social Studies Standards

  • Standard 1: Elementary: History of the United States and New York #1
    The study of New York State and United Sates history requires an analysis of the development of American culture, its diversity and multicultural context, and the ways people are unified by many values, practices, and traditions.

  • Standard 1: Elementary: History of the United States and New York #2
    Important ideas, social and cultural values, beliefs, and traditions from New York State and United States history illustrate the connections and interactions of people and events across time from a variety of perspectives.

  • Standard 1: Elementary: History of the United States and New York #4
    Explore different experiences, beliefs, motives, and traditions of people living in their neighborhoods, communities, and State.

  • Standard 4: Social Studies: Elementary: Economics: #1
    The study of economics requires an understanding of major economic concepts and systems, the principles of economic decision making, and the interdependence of economies and economic systems throughout the world.

  • Standard 4: Social Studies: Elementary: Economics: #2
    Economics requires the development and application of the skills needed to make informed and well-reasoned economic decisions in daily and national life.

Math, Science, Technology Standards

  • Standard 2: Information Systems: Elementary: Information Systems: #1
    Information technology is used to retrieve, process, and communicate information and as a tool to enhance learning.

  • Standard 4: Science: Elementary: The Living Environment: #6
    Plants and animals depend on each other and their physical environment.

  • Standard 4: Science: Elementary: The Living Environment: #7
    Human decisions and activities have had a profound impact on the physical and living environment.

  • Standard 6: Interconnectedness: Common Themes: Elementary: Systems Thinking: #1
    Through systems thinking, people can recognize the commonalities that exist among all systems and how parts of a system interrelate and combine to perform specific functions.

  • Standard 7: Interdisciplinary Problem Solving: Elementary: Connections: #1
    The knowledge and skills of mathematics, science, and technology are used together to make informed decisions and solve problems, especially those relating to issues of science/technology/society, consumer decision making, design, and inquiry into phenomena.

  • Standard 7: Interdisciplinary Problem Solving: Elementary: Strategies: #2
    Solving interdisciplinary problems involves a variety of skills and strategies, including effective work habits; gathering and processing information; generating and analyzing ideas; realizing ideas; making connections among the common themes of mathematics, science, and technology; and presenting results.

Desired Outcomes/Indicators of Success

Students will:

  • identify which groups (e.g., ethnic, religious) have settled in their region throughout history
  • gather appropriate information from a variety of resources to determine the influences each group had on their region
  • explore cultural food choices
  • develop an understanding of the nutritional, environmental, and cultural benefits of intercropping by investigating the Three Sister's Garden philosophy (nutrition: corn, beans and squash create a complete protein when they are combined)
  • learn how to create a garden
  • research and compile information to accurately reflect the cultural history of their region
  • discover the importance of planning and preparation for an agriculture venture
  • explore marketing research and the importance of identifying an audience for a product
  • develop an understanding of how all elements in an ecosystem are connected
  • learn the growing conditions needed for successful plant production.

Student Inquiries

Students will:

  • conduct interviews to track historical changes in the local population
  • explore the origin of cultural groups in their region
  • investigate the role of each member of the family in agriculture
  • look for evidence of each group in regional social customs, foods, festivities, land-use patterns, specialty stores and restaurants to determine which have the most noticeable impacts
  • compile a cookbook to celebrate and share the cultural history of their region
  • participate in designing and planning their school farm garden
  • conduct marketing research to decide on a crop or crops for the school farm
  • explore the components of a garden ecosystem
  • create a growing schedule.



  • Caduto, Michael J. and Joseph Bruchac. Native American Gardening: Stories, Projects and Recipes for Families. Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing. 1996.

  • Dennee, JoAnne. In the Three Sisters Garden: Native American Stories and Seasonal Activities for the Curious Child. Food Works dba Grass Roots Press, 1996.

  • Pranis, Eve and Jack Hale. Grow Lab: A Complete Guide to Gardening in the Classroom. South Burlington, VT: National Gardening Association, 1988.

  • Pranis, Eve and Amy Gifford. Schoolyard Mosaics: Designing Gardens and Habitats. South Burlington, VT: National Gardening Association, 2002.

  • Pranis, Eve and Amy Gifford. Growing Ventures: Starting a School Garden Business. South Burlington, VT: National Gardening Association, 2003.

  • Waters, Kate. Samuel Eaton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy. New York, NY: Scholastic Inc, 1993.

  • Wilkes, Angela. A Farm Through Time. New York, NY: DK Publishing Inc., 2001.