LESSON 2: Where Do Your Cornflakes Come From?
Grade Level: This lesson can be modified easily to work at any grade level
(K-12). Older children will be able to research more independently, while younger
children may need to be guided through the process.
Illinois State Learning Standards that can be covered with this lesson:
- English – 1C: Comprehend a broad range of reading materials.
- English – 4A: Listen effectively in formal and information situations.
- English – 4B:
Speak effectively using language appropriate to the situation and audience.
- English – 5A:
Locate, organize, and use information from various sources to answer questions,
solve problems, and communicate ideas.
- English – 5B: Analyze and evaluate
information acquired from various sources.
- English – 5C: Apply acquired
information, concepts, and ideas to communicate in a variety of formats.
- Science – 12A:
Know and apply concepts that explain how living things function, adapt, and change.
- Science – 12B:
Know and apply concepts that describe how living things interact with each other
and with their environment.
- Science – 13B: Know and apply concepts that
describe the interaction between science, technology, and society.
- Social Science – 15A:
Understand how different economic systems operate in the exchange, production,
distribution, and consumption of goods and services.
- Social Science – 15B:
Understand that scarcity necessitates choices by consumers.
- Social Science – 15C:
Understand that scarcity necessitates choices by producers.
- Social Science – 15D:
Understand trade as an exchange of goods or services.
- Social Science – Understand
the impact of government policies and decisions on production and consumption
in the economy.
- Social Science – 17A: Locate, describe, and explain places,
regions, and features on the Earth.
- Social Science – 17B: Analyze and explain
characteristics and interactions of the Earth's physical systems.
- Students will understand how corn gets
from a field and into a consumer's household.
- Students will learn about the many
products that are made from corn.
- Students will understand the role of transportation
and storage in the process of getting corn to market.
- Students will understand
the conditions necessary to grow corn.
- Students will learn about the physical
properties of corn and how it can be used to enhance other products.
- Begin by discussing the idea that many products we buy in the grocery
store and use in the home are made with grain and grain products. Ask students
for some food products they have in their household that are made from grain.
Possible responses might include cereal, flour, bread, popcorn, etc. List students'
responses on the board or someplace else where they can be seen by all.
- Ask students if they know how these food products made from grains get
to stores where people can buy them. Either in small groups, as individuals,
or as a whole class, trace the path of corn from the field to a bowl of cornflakes
in the home. Locate information online or in the library to help, and be sure
to cover the planting and growing of the corn crop, harvesting, storage, processing,
and transportation. Record your findings in the Where Do Your Cornflakes Come
- Discuss with students the idea that many other products besides foods
are made from corn and corn derivatives. Have students brainstorm to generate
a list of products made from corn. Use the List of Corn Products handout to help
determine whether corn products are ingredients in items listed.
- If your class will be visiting the J.H. Hawes grain elevator museum, place
special emphasis on the grain elevator portion of the process and have students
generate a list of questions they would like to have answered on their trip.
Learning Extensions and Possible Products
- Have students identify another product made from corn (e.g., plastic,
fuel, cosmetics, corn syrup, etc.) and research to find out how corn is used
to make that product. Students can present their research in the form of a written
or oral report, a PowerPoint or KidPix presentation, or by designing a poster
or brochure. (IL State Standards: English – 3A, 3B, 3C in addition to those
- Invite a farmer to come talk to the class about corn (or grain) farming.
Prepare by asking students to come up with a few questions each to ask the farmer.
- Take a field trip to the grocery store (or read about products online)
to see how many contain corn or corn products. Students can use the List
of Corn Products handout to help as they scan labels. Upon return, have students
work together to make a website or poster to help other students in your school
understand the vast uses of corn.
The Great Corn Adventure
HowStuffWorks.com: Where do corn oil and corn syrup come from?
Illinois Corn Growers Association
National Corn Growers Association: Corn Curriculum (for teachers)
Illinois Department of Agriculture: Kids' Page
Additional Pre-Visit Activities
- Have students make a create a corn mosaic. Either use colored Indian corn
or dye the kernels and then have students glue them to a surface. The surface
can be flat, as in cardboard, or corn mosaics can also be created on flower pots,
oatmeal containers, or other shaped objects.
- Have students make a cornhusk doll.
- Have students bring in products made from corn and create a display in your
classroom or in a hallway at school.
- Have a "Corn Tasting Day" in your classroom. Ask students to prepare
dishes made with corn so everyone can taste. Or, if bringing in home-cooked foods
is not permitted in your building, have students bring in recipes and compile
a Classroom Corn Cookbook.