Lesson Plan Industry Sector
Agriculture & Natural Resources

Lesson Plan Originally Created By: Austin Large

California Commodities

Part of Unit: The Role of Agriculture in the California Economy

Lesson Plan Overview / Details

In this lesson, students will be exposed to the impact that California Agriculture has on the State's economy annually. In order to understand this impact, students will investigate the top 20 commodities produced in California and their estimated economic value.

Lesson Time

1 Block Period
90 Minutes

Objectives and Goals

  • Define the term commodity
  • List California's Top 20 Agricultural Commodities and their values
  • Compare and contrast imports and exports

Activities in this Lesson

  • When class begins, gather students outside of the door, and deliver the following set of directions:

    1) As they enter the room, they are going to be counted off into five different groups.

    2) Each group has a station, which has a task sheet, a brown paper bag filled with resources, paper, and markers

    3) As a group, they will have 3 minutes to complete Task #1 on the task sheet

    Once you have delivered the direction set, allow the students to ask questions of clarification. After you have addressed the questions, allow students into the room, count them off into the five groups, and make sure that they have started on task #1 on the Task Sheet.

    After the groups have completed their flags, name, and inventory - deliver the following set of directions:

    1) Now that we have a name, a flag, and have identified your resources it is now time to start providing for the citizens of your nation

    2) On your task sheet you will find a wants list for all of the nations. It will be your duty to designate your traders, your inventory keeps, and your banker.

    3) Your group will have 5 minutes to acquire or trade as many goods as you can in order to fulfill the wants of your citizens.

    4) At the end of the 5 minutes, you will return to your country and await further instructions.

    Once you have delivered the directions, allow students to ask questions for clarification. Once they are ready, begin the trading, and at the end of the 5 minutes have them return to their seats and recount all of their items and money. After the counting has taken place, ask the following questions:

    1) How many Nations were able to meet the wants of our citizens?

    2) How many Nations had more of what was desired?

    3) How many Nations ended the activity with much more than you started with?

    4) How many Nations were not able to meet the wants of their citizens?

    5) How many Nations ran out of money to purchase goods?

    6) Who can tell us what this represented?

    Inform the students that today they are going to have the opportunity to work with California's Top Commodities and understand the impact that they have on our State's economy.

    Resources and Materials

  • After you process the "We the people..." activity, it is time to transition into the content of the lesson. For the first objective you will be working with the students to define the term commodity. Explain to the students that before you can discuss California's Commodities and their impact you have to first be able to tell someone what a commodity is. Let them know that, although they are linguistic experts, you as a class are going to use a single definition. While you are explaining to students, pass out the handout that will be used for the rest of the instructional activities.

    After every student has a copy of the handout instruct them to capture the definition that is covered up on the board. As you uncover the definition, act as though someone has come in and stolen the key points! Those are going to be placed on separate sheets of paper and hidden throughout the classroom!

    On the board have the following definition for the term Commodity posted - with key words omitted:

    Com.mod.i.ty (noun): a raw material or primary agricultural product that can be bought, sold and traded.

    After you have unveiled the missing definition, deliver the following instructions to students:

    1) Around the room are the missing pieces of our definition.

    2) When you hear "go", stand up out of your seats and attempt to locate one of the missing words.

    3) You will have 30 seconds to locate a piece and bring it to the front of the room.

    4) At the end of the 30 seconds, if you did not find a word, please make your way back to your seat and be prepared to help us fill in the definition.

    5) "Go"

    Once the words have been found, work with the students to fill in the key words missing from the definition, and have the students capture the definition on their handout.

  • Once the students have the definition of commodity captured down on their handout, transition by asking students to identify agricultural commodities based on the definition provided to them. Take a few responses, and after you have a few identified, ask for a show of hands for those students who can tell you what impact those commodities have on our State's economy. There will be few if any students who can do so, but let them know that over the course of the next activity they will all walk away with concrete figures on how the Top 20 Commodities contribute to and affect our economy.

    Tell the students that to gain all of this invaluable knowledge they will be participating in the classic "family game night" game of Pictionary! After you hype the competition associated with this activity, deliver the following set of directions:

    1) In a moment, the room will be divided into two teams that will compete head to head in a cut-throat game of pictionary.

    2) Located on the board are 20 cards, and on these cards are the name of a commodity and it's value.

    3) For each new commodity, the groups will send up a new representative to the board to do their best to illustrate the commodity that is shown to them.

    4) The first group to correctly guess the commodity will receive a point, and the opportunity for their next draw-er to select the next commodity.

    5) After a commodity has been identified correctly by the teams, the students will need to capture the name of the commodity and it's value on their handout

    6) After all of the commodities have been identified, the winners of this team competition will receive some type of reward.

    Go through and conduct the pictionary activity, having students fill out their sheets as the activity moves along. After each guess, reward teams their respective points and keep the flow of students constant - DO NOT LET THIS ACTIVITY LOSE MOMENTUM!

    At the conclusion, project the following PowerPoint slides that identify the Top 20 Commodities and their values (for those students who might have missed a value or commodity name).

    After everyone has their commodities identified, ask them the following questions:

    1) By a show of hands, how many of us are surprised by one or more commodities on this list?

    2) Are there any commodities that you were surprised to not see on this list?

    After questioning, ask students a rhetorical question: "what about crops that we don't grow in the United States?" and "How do other countries get crops that are grown exclusively in the United State or California?"

    Resources and Materials

    • Commodity Handout [ Download ]
    • Commodity/Import/Export PowerPoint [ Download ]
  • After posing the questions about crops produced abroad, and crops that are sent out, let students know that we are going to discussing agricultural imports and exports, and how they affect the economy. Set context for this activity by telling students the following things:

    1) Right now, you are going to pair with an individual who has a keen mind!

    2) You and your partner are going to take on the roles of two of the greatest thinkers of all time, Albert Einstein and Leonardo Davinci.

    3) Have the person with the longest hair raise their hand - they will take on the role of Einstein, and their partner will be Davinci.

    Once you have established roles within the pair, deliver the following instructions:

    1) Einsteins, this next activity is going to require your full and undivided attention

    2) Davincis, while I am working with Einstein - put your head down on the table and relax, because we aren't ready for you quite yet

    After Davincis have checked out, proceed to go over the Import slide on the PowerPoint with the Einsteins. After you have covered the information, give the following instructions:

    1) Davincis heads up!

    2) Einsteins, share with your partners what is was that we just discussed, and have them record that information on the same location on their handout (allow them time to share all of the information, once everyone has wrapped up continue to the next step)

    3) Thank you Einsteins! I now require some one-on-one time with our Davincis, so heads down, and we'll make sure to grab you when we are ready

    Go over the Exports slide with the Davincis. Afterwards, gain the attention of the Einsteins, and have them capture down the export information! After they have shared, they should have the outsides of the Venn Diagram filled with information. Now deliver the following directions:

    1) Great work folks! It was intimidating with great minds like yours!

    2) Now that we have some of the greatest minds in history paired up there is one more task that you must accomplish.

    3) In your pairs, use those massive thinking brains to come up with some similarities of Imports and Exports!

    4) You will have 2 minutes to brainstorm and record your thoughts, at the end of those two minutes please be prepared to share!

    Clarify any questions that the students have, and then allow them time to work on the center portion of the Venn Diagram. Once the time has expired, have a few groups share, and celebrate their contributions!

  • Let the students know that you have been impressed with the quality of work that you have seen so far during the lesson, and let them know that they need to keep that up for this last activity. Deliver the following instructions to the students:

    1) Reassemble into your original countries from the beginning activity

    2) Each group has a poster on the wall, with the letters A-Z listed on the left hand side and the center of the poster

    3) They will have 1 minute to come up with a concept or idea that we covered during the lesson that start with the 26 letters of the alphabet (i.e. E=EXPORT, or C=COMMODITIES)

    4) This activity takes place relay style, so each member will take turns at the poster, filling in ONLY ONE concept each time they go up to the poster! They should be prepared to be at the poster SEVERAL times

    5) At the end of 1 minute, the team with the most legible and correct concepts will be declared the winner!

    Allow the students to ask questions to clarify, and then get them started. Make sure to play a fast song to keep up the tempo of the activity, and make sure that students are getting into the activity. Be sure to tally up the scores and announce the winner with a large celebration at the end. Afterwards, settle everyone into their seats so that you can close the lesson.

    Resources and Materials

  • Great work today ladies and gentlemen! I am extremely impressed by the amount of intensity and focus that was brought to today's lesson! Today, you are not only leaving class a student, but you are leaving as an informed consumer of agricultural products. You now information and knowledge about what commodities are, and what makes California agriculture so uinique! I hope that you leave here today and share that information with others! Take your right hand and give yourself a pat on the back, because you all did a stellar job today!


Assessment Types:
Informal Review

Students were assessed based the responses given during the A-Z Review activity.  A formal assessment would be given at the end of this unit on California Agriculture.