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Center for Ecoliteracy


3rd, 4th, 5th


Science, Social Studies, Economics

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plan
  • Activity - Classroom
  • Worksheet

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - West



Modeling the Local Food System

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  • This lesson plan and activity provides an engaging way for students to learn about the components of food systems and then create a food system model for oranges grown in California.
  • Students will create posters using the cut-outs included in the downloadable lesson to illustrate the supply chain steps of oranges from farm to table.
Teaching Tips


  • This lesson can help students understand and appreciate the ways that their food choices affect other people and places.
  • This lesson plan includes all of the information and materials needed to jump into a lesson, including reproducible handouts, lesson objectives, a materials list, and step-by-step directions.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Each group or pair will need a copy of the handouts.  Color copies may be more engaging, but are not required.
  • Other required materials are listed in the lesson plan including scissors, poster paper, colored pencils or pens, and optional tape.


  • Preview the three learning objectives with students before beginning the activities to ensure they have an understanding of the specific purpose of this lesson.
  • Teachers could read this picture book to students before or after conducting this lesson in order to make a connection to sustainable farming in Brazil and how agricultural practices affect the climate.
  • While this lesson plan is specific to California, teachers outside of this state can think about how to make connections to how food is grown or transported to their own states or cities, especially because much of the fruit and vegetables Americans eat comes from California.
  • Consider using this lesson as an introduction to other lessons in this series, such as The Tomato Salsa Challenge, Creating Asparagus Ads, Winter Squash: Sink or Float?, or the six others mentioned in the lesson.
Scientist Notes
This resource is a lesson for students to better understand how food gets from a farm to our plates. All information provided in the packet is accurate. This resource is recommended for teaching.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • English Language Arts
    • Reading: Informational Text (K-12)
      • RI.3.3 Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.
  • Science
    • LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
      • 5-LS1-1. Support an argument that plants get the materials they need for growth chiefly from air and water.
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