Curriculum Toolkit

Over the years, we have honed in on priority curricular units for every grade level, preschool through 12th grade, that build on each other and provide a meaningful food education for the students we work with.

This Toolkit is the compilation of these units, along with their related teaching standards, activities, and assessment tools. We are constantly adding to this site, so please check in again soon for updates.

We designed this curriculum framework to help our students grasp the following key concepts by the time they graduate from high school:

Feel confident in making healthy food choices

Appreciate the farming profession

Know that everyone can grow food

Understand the connection between healthy soil, healthy plants, and healthy people

Recognize the difference between the industrial and local food systems

5th Grade: Soil Science and Garden Botany

In fifth grade,

students build upon their knowledge of corn, and its impact on our lives today.

After harvesting their crops in the fall, students spend time during the winter processing their crops into a dish to share. They also investigate corn in all of its manifestations in our current food system, and begin to look critically at ways we can improve our food choices and change the food system. In the spring, as students work in the garden, they also study the roles and significance of pollinators in our food system.

Connections to IGS Learning Goals:

Appreciate the farming profession
Know that everyone can grow food
Understand the connection between healthy soil, healthy plants and healthy people
Feel confident in making healthy food choices

Essential Questions:

What is soil?
Where does soil come from?
How does soil form?
Where does food come from?
Where do seeds come from?
Why do we have farms?
What is waste?
How do humans and plants affect each other?
What is food culture?
How has food culture changed throughout history?


Obtain and combine information about ways communities reduce the impact on the Earth’s resources and environment by changing an agricultural, industrial, or community practice or process.


Support an argument with evidence that plants get the materials they need for growth and reproduction chiefly through a process in which they use air, water, and energy from the sun to produce sugars and plant materials.


Develop a model of a food web to describe the movement of matter among producers, primary and secondary consumers, decomposers, and the air and soil in the environment: a. show that plants produce sugars and plant materials; b. show that some animals eat plants for food and other animals eat the animals that eat plants; and c. show that some organisms, including fungi and bacteria, break down dead organisms and recycle some materials back to the air and soil.


    Compare at least two designs for a composter to determine which is most likely to encourage decomposition of materials.


    Use a model to describe that the food animals digest: a. contains energy that was once energy from the sun, and b. provides energy and materials for body repair, growth, motion, body warmth, and reproduction.

    Analyze patterns and relationships

    Perform operations with multi-digit whole numbers and with decimals to hundredths

    Use equivalent fractions as a strategy to add and subtract fractions

    Convert like measurement units within a given measurement system

    Represent and interpret data

    Understand concepts of volume and relate volume to multiplication and addition

    • Planting Corn in the Garden

    Graph points on the coordinate plane to solve real-world and mathematical problems


    On a map of the United States, locate the first 13 colonies and describe the impact of regional differences in climate on the types of crops that could be grown or harvested profitably in the Northern, mid-Atlantic, and Southern colonies; describe varied sources of labor (e.g., selfemployed colonists, apprentices, employees, indentured servants, free and enslaved Africans).

    Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information

    Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly

    Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic

    Recall relevant information from experience or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; summarize or paraphrase information in notes and finished work, and provide a list of sources.

    Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research

    Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly

    • All units

    Summarize a written text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats

    PreK-12 Standard 4: Cultures.

    Students will demonstrate an understanding of the traditions, perspectives, practices, and products of the culture studied, including human commonalities as reflected in history, literature, and the visual and performing arts.

    5th Grade Book List


    • The Corn Grows Ripe, by Dorothy Rhoads


    • The Lifecycle of an Earthworm, by Bobbie Kalman
    • Garbage Helps Our Garden Grow, by Linda Glaser
    • Composting, by Robin Koontz


    • La Tortilleria/The Tortilla Factory, by Gary Paulsen
    • Laughing Tomatoes (in Spanish and English), by Francisco Alarcon
    • Carlos and The Cornfield (in Spanish and English), by Jan Romero Stevens and Jeanne Stevens
    • Carlos and the Squash Plant (in Spanish and English), by Jan Romero Stevens and Jeanne Stevens
    • Vegetable Dreams, by Dawn Jeffers (in Spanish and English)

    Bud to Fruit/Pollination

    • The Honeybee Man, by Lela Nargi and Kyrsten Brooker
    • What if There Were No Bees? A Book about the Grassland Ecosystem, by Suzanne Slade
    • Beekeepers, by Linda High