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Natural Resources and Iowa

Lesson Plan Item

General Information
Grade 2nd Grade Class Social Studies Length of Lesson 50 Minutes
Lesson Title Natural Resources and Iowa
Unit Title Natural Resources
Unit Compelling Question What are natural resources and how do we use them?
Historical Context:

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is in charge of maintaining the state parks and forests, protecting the environment, and oversight of wildlife, fish, and land/water resources.  


~Allyson Simpson


2018.017.014 This photograph shows a harvested corn field dotted with corn shocks. As farmers went through their fields and cut down the corn stalks, the stalks were tied together and left standing in the field. These "corn shocks" were meant to allow ears of corn to dry and cure without touching the ground and absorbing dirt or moisture. Once the corn was dry, farmers would typically collect and husk the corn by hand.


~ Matthew Miller, Teaching Iowa History Team
Lesson Supporting Question What natural resources do we use in Iowa?
Lesson Overview

Students will identify three natural resources that humans use, plants, water, and soil. Students will then study a picture of how a farmer has used natural resources in Iowa. 

Primary Sources Used
Resources Needed
Lesson Target
  • Students will understand that natural resources occur in nature and be able to name three: plants, water, and soil, with 100% accuracy.
  • Students will use their knowledge of natural resources to study a primary source picture of corn and ask questions about the picture and how it shows natural resources.
Lesson Themes No themes are assigned for this lesson.
Lesson Procedure
Step Procedure Time Differentiation plan / Additional Information
Bell Ringer 

 To begin the lesson, ask your students to tell you the first thing they think of when they hear each of these words: plant, water, soil.

Ask your class if anyone knows what a natural resource is. Encourage your students to make educated guesses.

Once the class has come up with a few answers, explain that a natural resources is a substance found in the earth naturally. Natural resources are things such as plants, water, and soil that occur in nature and can be used to make other things such as food or paper.
5 Min

Have students write down their response in their notebooks.

Let students answer, but do not let them take too long.

 Write the words: plants, soil, and water, on the board. Explain that these are the three main types of natural resources.

Start a class discussion about the importance of plants. Questions include: Why are plants important? Could we live without plants? How do plants help us stay alive? How do plants help animals?
Explain that plants provide us with food, oxygen to help us breathe, and protection through homes and fire. Plants make and protect soil, feed animals, shelter animals, and are used to make clothes and many medicines.
Ask students about the importance of water. Suggested questions include: Why is water important to humans? Why is water important to plants and animals? How long could someone survive without water?

Explain that water is the most essential natural resource that the earth gives us, and that plants, animals, and people would die without it.
8 Min

Question answers: Why are plants important?  Humans and animals eat plants to survive such as vegetables for humans and grass for animals. We also make things from plants such as clothing (from cotton), and paper (from trees).
Could we live without plants?  No, because humans and animals eat plants. We can also make clothes from plants, and plants give us oxygen.
How do plants help us stay alive?  Plants give us food and clothing, shelter and oxygen.
How to plants help animals?  Plants give shelter to animals, and also give them food.
Play off other student answers to get back to main point and transition into talking about water.
Why is water important to humans? Because humans need to drink it to survive.
Why is water important to plants and animals?  Like humans, plants and animals need water to survive.

How long could someone survive without water?  Only a couple of days.
Student Have students Think-Pair-Share with their elbow partner about how they have used plants and water in the past week. 6 Min

Think: Students think to themselves how they have used plants and water in the past week.

Pair: turn to elbow partner to discuss.

Share: students should take turns talking about how they have used water and plants in the past week. If students finish too quickly, have them write down their answers.

The teacher should be walking around the room during this part to make sure students are on task.
Transition Each group will share their think-pair-share answer with the large group. 5 Min  

●      Ask your students about the importance of soil. Discussion questions: What is soil? Why is soil important? What would our lives be like without soil? Why could we not live without soil?

Share that soil contains important nutrients that plants and humans need to stay alive. Soil also helps plants retain the moisture they need to grow and thrive.
Ask students to think about farmers. What do farmers do with soil? Why is soil an important natural resource in Iowa?

Tell students they are going to look at a picture of how an Iowa farmer has used soil.
5 Min

What is soil?  Soil is dirt where plants, grass, and trees grow.
Why is soil important?  Plants, trees, and grass grow in soil. Soil makes food.
What would our lives be like without soil?  We would not have food to eat.
Why could we not live without soil? The food we eat is grown in the soil, farmers need soil to grow crops.
What do farmers do with soil?  Farmers grow crops (corn, beans, wheat, cotton, rice). Focus on Iowa crops of corn and beans.

Why is soil an important natural resource in Iowa?  Because farmers need the soil to be able to grow their crops. Without soil, there would be no corn and beans.
Student  Students will again work in elbow pairs to look at the picture of corn stock from the Teaching Iowa History database online. Students will receive a paper with the picture of corn stalks at the top and lines on the bottom of the paper where students will write their responses to the picture where they will be asked to think about the natural resources in the picture and write their response. 12 Min

Students will be allowed to ask questions of the picture, describe what is happening in the picture, describe corn and how it can be used, talk about the soil, talk about how corn is a plant.

The teacher will walk around the room to check on each group to make sure they understand what they are doing and also make sure each group is on task.
Transition Each elbow partner group will be allowed to share one thing they wrote down with the large group. 4 Min  
Closure  Students will write down in their notebooks what a natural resource is and choose one talked about today (plants, water, soil) as an exit ticket. 5 Min

Natural Resources are things such as plants, water, and soil that occur in nature and can be used to make other things such as food or paper.

Formative Assessment
(How will you use the formative assessments to monitor and inform instruction?)
  • By walking around and talking to students I will use formative assessment to make sure students understand the concept of natural resources and what natural resources are around them in Iowa, and making sure they are on task. By looking at their corn stalk worksheet and reviewing students’ work, I will see how the next lesson will proceed.
Summative Assessment
(How does the lesson connect to planned summative assessment(s)?)
  • This is lesson one of two talking about natural resources. The Iowa Core standard is Identify how people use natural resources to produce goods and services. In this lesson, the first part of the standard is addressed by helping students understand what a natural resource is. The second part of this lesson will go into how natural resources are used to produce goods and services. Iowa will be the focus of the next lesson by teaching students about goods and services that are produced by Iowa farmers. At the end of these two lesson, the students should be able to 1. Describe each of the three natural resources studied, plants, water, and soil. Talk about how Iowa farmers use natural resources to produce goods and services
Author Information
Author Shelby Miller Reviewer Dr. Chad Timm, Simpson College Created 08/15/2019 Last Edited 09/06/2019
Lesson Plan Development Notes: Social Studies Methods, Simpson College, Spring 2019

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