For Teachers

Letter to Educators



Why Study Rare Breeds?

ALBC Conservation Priorty List


~ K-2 Overview


~ 3-5 Overview



Farm Visits




• The characteristics of organisms
• Regulation and behavior


Brainstorm what we know about farm animals. In the discussion, share stories of individual experiences of farm animals. What did they notice about the animal? Categorize responses into characteristics, behaviors, habitat, needs, etc.

Whole class activity; use before the slide show, periodically during the unit, and as the final activity, demonstrating what has been learned.



Chalkboard, large sheet of paper, or overhead projector.



1. Students list some of the things they know about farm animals and some of the things they would like to learn. Arranging the information as a web to connect ideas gives the students the opportunity to see the many areas of study in the unit and to update the diagram as they learn new information.

A Learning Web or a KWL (What I Know, What I Want to Know and What I Learned) chart helps students apply existing knowledge and experience, focus their study, and raise questions they would like to answer.

1. Ask the students to start thinking about things connected to farm animals, including things they already know and things they'd like to learn about. Brainstorm a list of the things students know about farm animals. The list can include both things they know about already and things they'd like to learn. Spend some time bringing up ideas. Ask the students to suggest major concepts; these can include kinds of farm animals, their uses, their characteristics, the foods they eat, and where they live.

2. Write "Farm Animals" in the center of the piece of large paper, chalkboard, or overhead projection. Arrange or gradually assemble the ideas into a web diagram form in front of the students. Give each student the opportunity to contribute something to the diagram, and list each new suggestion. Invite the students to contribute concepts and suggestions for placement. Ideas may be moved to another spot or they may be combined with others. Connect related ideas with lines leaving some areas blank. Some space on the web should be left empty for topics the students want to learn about or for topics they will discover later. After the web is finished, spend a few minutes to look it over.

3. Post the web diagram on a bulletin board for the duration of the unit. Information can be added periodically, after activities are completed and during class discussions, and the web can be redrawn as necessary. This is a great way to let students see how much they are learning.



For a detailed discussion of the learning web approach consult An Integrated Language Perspective in the Elementary School by Christine C. Pappas, Barbara Z. Kiefer, and Linda Laevstik (Longman, 1990).





Cards with the names of different organisms or animals in a food chain written on them (for example: bacteria, fungi, earthworm, grass, insect, pig, chicken, cow, human, fox, etc. ).



Grass — goose — fox (dies) — opossum (dies) — fungi Grass — grasshopper — pig — human being Grass — mouse — turkey — human being Algae in pond — water beetle — duck — hawk Algae in pond — water beetle — fish — raccoon



1. Privately distribute cards with the names of organisms in a food chain. These may include: bacteria, earthworm, grass, lettuce, beetle, mouse, cow, goat, sheep, pig, chicken, fox, and human being. There can be duplicates of any of the organisms.

2. Have the students stand up one at a time and say what they are. Students can position themselves in the food chain or ask the class for advice. Once the chain is complete, go down the chain and have the students repeat the animal or organism he or she represents and what they eat.

3. The activity can be made more difficult by making the chain into a web, with many threads. For example, there could be lettuce which is eaten by insects; lettuce which is eaten by goats, which are eaten by foxes; lettuce which is eaten by grasshoppers, which are eaten by pigs, which are eaten by people; and lettuce which is eaten by chickens, which are eaten by foxes, which die and are eaten by opossums. What is important is an appreciation of the interrelationship of all the organisms, and the importance of microorganisms, which build and maintain the soil fertility that producers need.

Have students discuss the following definition: "'Edible,' adj. , good to eat, and wholesome to digest, as a worm to a toad, a toad to a snake, a snake to a pig, a pig to a man, and a man to a worm. "Ambrose Bierce in The Devil's Dictionary. They may be inspired to write alternative definitions of "edible" for themselves.



Bring in a bunch of examples of products from farm animals. Print a copy of TenSpecies.pdf or print larger images from the slideshow. Printing several breeds of each species will introduce diversity.

Place the animal images at tables and introduce them.

Show the class your Secret No-one-peek Bag of "stuff". One by one, student volunteers get to reach in and pull something out. (You might make this eerie if doing your farm unit around harvest and Halloween time. ) What in the world will they touch?

Ask the volunteer to identify the item, and then decide where it should go. They can ask the class for input. For example: "A wool sweater. Where should it go?" Answer: "On the sheep table!".

Students might think about their lunches and what farm animal products are in there. If there is wheat in their bread, that is what animals use to sleep on: wheat straw, while the tops are what animals eat.

Sample list of items to bring in:

Hard-boiled eggs A wrapped piece of ham or ham sandwich A wool sweater A wool blanket Cashmere sweater Sheepskin rug Down pillow A piece of cooked Turkey meat A piece of cooked chicken meat A hot dog A piece of cooked sausage A piece of cooked bacon A hamburger leather shoes violin bow with horse hair angora sweater or scarf wool socks

If this activity is done later in the unit, you might also add synthetic fibers and plant replacements such as Polartec fleece hat, mittens or blanket, rubber or vinyl shoes, a polyester sweater, a synthetic pillow, tofu burgers.

If possible, invite a local farmer who uses draft horses to visit the class and talk about his or her decision to work with animals instead of machines. Farmer contacts may be available from your local cooperative extension agent or your state horse council.

Have the students draw pictures of animals or groups of different farm animals "in action" to illustrate the uses of each species. Ask them to write or tell stories about their pictures. Students can do oral or written reports, illustrated with drawings.



The Extraordinary Chicken – a photo-journey through the amazing beauty and array of colors in chickens.

A Field Guide to Cows by John Pukite (Falcon Press, 1996). 144 pages, with drawings, charts, and graphs. Also: A Field Guide to Pigs, Pukite.



Whole class and small group activities; use after part 1 or after part 4 of the slide show.


• The characteristics of organisms (interdependence)
• Regulation and behavior (diet)


• research skills
• preparing and giving presentations


Using food and diet as the window for the concept of interdependence, students explore the interrelationships of plants and animals and humans. Students will list the foods farm animals eat and group the animals accordingly. Through discussion and research about domestication they form a broader view of interdependence while gaining both historical and geographic perspective.


Chalkboard or overhead projector; paper, cardstock or poster board; markers or crayons; sample restaurant menus; AnDietKey.pdf; AnDiets.pdf. Samples of grains (such as wheat, barley, oats, and corn), Hay and Straw are included in the kit.


1. Ask the students, "What do animals eat?" Have the class list the animal foods they remember from the slide show, or have students work in small groups or individually to fill out worksheets. Add to the lists the foods the students don't know or can't remember.

a. When you have finished the lists, ask the students, "How can an animal's diet make it useful to farmers?" For example, chickens like to eat insects. This means that they are useful in controlling insect pests in gardens, fields, and pastures. Have students complete a list of "Useful Activities"

b. Group animals according to the foods they eat:

Plant diet (grass, hay, weeds, bushes, grains, and some small amounts of vegetables and fruits) ´ eaten by cattle, goats, sheep, horses, and geese. These animals are called "herbivores. " Meat diet (insects, rodents, and other animals, with small amounts of grains and other plants) ´ eaten by dogs, cats, and other "carnivores. " Plant and meat diet (plants, roots, nuts, grains, fruit, insects, snakes, other animals, milk, cheese, kitchen waste) ´ eaten by pigs, chickens, ducks, and turkeys. These animals are called "omnivores. " Wild animals can be added to the groups: for example, deer are herbivores, lions are carnivores, and bears are omnivores.

2. Ask the students, "Which of these is most like our own diet?" and discuss the answers. Most people are omnivores. Vegetarians who eat fish are also considered omnivores. Even vegetarians who eat no meat, but do eat grain, beans, dairy products, fruits, and vegetables probably have more in common with the omnivore diet than the herbivore diet. Invite a feed store representative to talk to the students about animal diets. The visitor might also bring samples of animal foods, including hays and grains, and feed buckets. Most feed stores sell grains that have been processed and pelleted, and the representative could explain how processed feeds are made and what they contain.

3. (Extension) Have groups of students or individual students design and draw menus for restaurants serving each type of animal. A restaurant for cows, for example, would serve a variety of fresh grasses, several kinds of hay, some poison ivy, and a few other vines and grains, with apples for dessert. A restaurant for pigs might serve grass, roots, snakes, rodents, truffles, grasshoppers, grain, apples, and maybe even leftovers from the other restaurants. There are many options that students can incorporate; grain-eating species, for example, might eat pizza or pasta, with their own favorite toppings, of course. Students can use sample menus for ideas. Menus can be drawn up on paper and then pasted onto poster paper. Remind students to give their restaurants names.

4. (Extension) If supplies, time and space allow, have groups of students set up a table from their restaurants, with menu, place setting, and foods. (Setting up a mall-type food court is another option. ) Models of snakes and insects, real acorns, hay, grain, grass, fruit, and roots would make an excellent presentation. You can decide if you want to include "dairy waste," such as sour milk, and poison ivy on the tables! Then, students can present their restaurants to an audience ´ another class, parents, etc. Each group can choose a maitre d' who can introduce the restaurant menu. If you want a competition, you can have the members of the audience choose which restaurant to attend, and the winning group is the one that attracts the most patrons.



Students doing Species reports add to their report by doing on-line research. Each team member selects a breed of that species to research and present.

Teams of two or three research the life cycles of ten domestic farm species.

As a class, compile the information and complete LifeCycles.pdf (used as an overhead works well) with their researched information. A Teacher Key is included in the PDF Resources section.



Writing Letters:

Science as a human endeavor. Students share through writing letters to the town council the importance of supporting small farms for the continuation of rare breeds. Scientists also share the results of their research through written reports.

Living with People: A Research and Writing Project

Discuss the variety of places domestic animals live ´ wherever there are people, there are usually domestic animals. Independent, small group, and whole class activity; use after part 4 of the slide show.

Key Concepts

• The characteristics of organisms
• Interdependence


Students will describe the process of domestication.

Materials needed:

Internet access and/or media center research.


1. Ask students, "What is a domestic animal?" A simple definition is that domestic animals live with people. They include animals that live near people in a commensal relationship, such as cats living in the granaries of ancient Egypt. A biological definition is that a group of animals becomes domesticated when its reproduction is under the control of people rather than nature ´ that is, human selection rather than natural selection. Domestication of animals was a very gradual process, occuring over several thousands of years.

2. Have individual students or groups of students gather information on how a species of animals (one of the farm animal species or other domestic animals such as camel, reindeer, or elephant) became domesticated, where this happened, and why. The class can produce a larger chart on domestication, similar to the chart on the previous page. The students should try to find out what advantages animals gained from living with people, as well as what advantages people gained from living with animals. This research will likely extend beyond one class period to homework and writing time.

3. (Extension) Have students choose a domesticated species and speculate about the long process of domestication. They can write about this experience as if they were part of a village or group of people domesticating a group of animals. The story should be written like a diary and occur over several months or years.


Who Harnessed the Horse? The Story of Animal Domestication by Margery Facklam (Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1992) is an excellent description of domestication for advanced students.


Navigating the Unit

3rd - 5 E Summary
3rd - Engage
3rd - Explore
3rd - Explain
3rd - Expand
3rd - Evaluate
3rd - Supplement

Noah's Ark Today is property of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.
Copyright 2006.

American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, PO Box 477, Pittsboro, NC 27312