We’re continuing to explore global food issues for the upcoming Geography Awareness Week (November 16-22). Today we’re sharing ideas for elementary-level students to learn about geography through the study of food.
Start by engaging your elementary students in the geography of food by sharing one of our most popular lesson plans, Earth: The Apple of our Eye. In this activity, students see a memorable visual demonstration that illustrates the limited availability of farmland. The demonstration highlights the Earth’s geography and different types of land – land that can grow food, and land that cannot (deserts, tundra, and mountains). It reveals that as we have a growing number of people to feed from the land, we have a limited amount of farmland to grow the food upon. The activity leads into a great discussion on what we can do to protect farmland.
A great book to read after watching the apple demonstration is The Good Garden: How One Family Went from Hunger to Having Enough by Katie Smith Milway. It’s a story about a family that starts incorporating good farming practices like crop rotation and composting to revitalize their struggling soil.
The reading What Are People’s Basic Needs? describes that all people have necessities for survival – food, water, shelter, and energy. As populations grow, sometimes we find that basic needs go unmet and people must leave their homelands in search of those necessities. As a class, explore the idea of migration around the world due to environmental concerns or pressures from population growth. How can food be a push/pull factor in migration? The reading How Many is Enough? introduces the concept of carrying capacity, noting specifically that we need land to grow crops and there is a limit on how much food can be produced from land. This reading would be a great way to investigate the overarching essential question: how we will feed the projected 9-10 billion people sharing the planet by mid-century?
Follow up the short readings with Hungry Planet: What the World Eats by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio. The book illustrates what a week’s worth of food purchases looks like for different families all across the globe and explores how eating habits are changing worldwide.
Teach high school? Check out our post Exploring Food Issues for Geography Awareness Week.