National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
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More Than One Grain of Rice (Grades 3-5)
3 - 5
Students will learn about the cultivation and parts of rice while also covering subjects including mathematics, economics, and geography. Activities include reading One Grain of Rice by Demi and removing the hull, bran, and germ from grains of rice.
- World wall map
- Sticky notes, 1 per student
- One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale by Demi
- More Than One Grain of Rice activity sheet, 1 per student
- Background Agricultural Connections information from this lesson
- Rice Paddy Images
- Rice Examples page
- Rice in the hull, 6 grains per pair of students
- Rice in the hull is available for purchase from agclassroomstore.com
- Mouse pad pieces, 2 per pair of students
- Cut a regular-sized mouse pad into quarters or cut rubber-backed place mats to a similar size
- 2" x 2" pieces of 70-100 grit sand paper, 2 per pair of students
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
regions: areas of Earth’s surface that have unifying physical and/or human characteristics
staple food: a food that is eaten regularly and is a dominant part of the diet, supplying a major proportion of energy and nutrient needs
rough rice: unprocessed rice still in the hull as it comes from the field, also known as paddy rice
brown rice: whole grain rice from which the inedible hull has been removed, but which still has the germ and outer layers of bran
white rice: rice from which the inedible hull, germ, and outer layers of bran have been removed
Did you know? (Ag Facts)
- Rice farming is about 10,000 years old.1
- Thousands of varieties of rice are farmed.1
- Rice is the primary staple food for more than half of the people on Earth.1
- Toyota means bountiful rice field. Honda means the main rice field.1
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
- Ask students if they would rather have $10,000 dollars right now or receive one penny today and double it every day for 30 days?
- Ask them to explain their answers.
- Tell them you think they may change their minds after they hear the story you are going to read about doubling in mathematics! (The doubling of the penny over a month will result in over 5 million dollars!)
- Now for a geography question—ask students to name all the places in the world that grow rice. On a large wall map of the world, place a sticky-note on the countries where students have said rice grows.
- Tell students that you will return to the map later, but now it's time for a story.
Activity 1: One Grain of Rice
- Read One Grain of Rice by Demi.
- Ask students to figure out how much total rice Rani received from the Raja using the More Than One Grain of Rice activity sheet grid but not using calculators.
- Have the students check their calculations using calculators and complete the additional questions about the doubling of a penny and a dozen eggs.
- Use the following discussion questions to assess students' comprehension of the story and explore related concepts:
- In what food group does rice belong? (Grain)
- What good did the farmers in the story by Demi produce? (Rice)
- Is rice a scarce good? (Yes! It is a tangible item that people produce using productive resources—natural, human, and capital. Thus, rice is not a free good. Like all scarce goods, it commands a price in the marketplace.)
- Why did the rice farmers give almost all of their rice to the Raja? (He commanded it. In return, he promised to store the grain.)
- What happened when the famine occurred? (The supply of rice decreased, and the people had almost nothing to eat. Rice, which is already a scarce good, became much more scarce!)
- When a good becomes more scarce, what typically happens to the price? (It increases.)
- When the price of rice rises compared to other goods, what do producers of rice typically do? (Produce more rice! In the near term, this will cover higher production costs and, hopefully, earn the producers more profit.)
- When the price of a good rises compared to other goods, what do consumers of rice typically do? (Consume/purchase less rice!)
Activity 2: Geography of Rice
- Looking at the world map and the sticky notes where students guessed rice is grown, read the first two paragraphs in the Background Agricultural Connections section aloud to the class.
- Add sticky notes to the wall map where needed (note that rice is grown in many countries and only the most prominent are mentioned here). Ask students to color in these areas on the map on their More Than One Grain of Rice activity sheets, including the top six states in the United States. Also ask students to answer the last question on the activity sheet.
- Ask students if they can think of anything these rice-growing regions have in common. (They have wet, warm climates; they are found at middle latitudes that are not too far north or too far south.)
- Explain to students that rice needs a long, warm growing season and lots of water. Rice can even grow in standing water, so rice farmers often flood their fields. Flooding rice fields ensures that the rice has plenty of water and prevents most weeds from growing. The flooded fields are drained and allowed to dry when it is time to harvest the rice.
- Share and discuss the Rice Paddy Images with students. In order to flood rice paddies, they must be enclosed around the edges to hold water. In hilly areas rice fields are terraced, creating level areas that can hold water. Discuss the difference between harvesting with a tractor and harvesting by hand. You may also wish to share the NOVA interactive presentation Build a Rice Paddy, which illustrates how land is terraced for rice cultivation.
- Use the following discussion questions to further explore the geography of rice:
- How long have people been growing rice? (Approximately 10,000 years)
- Where do you think rice was first cultivated? (Scientists have found evidence of ancient rice cultivation in several different locations in Asia. It's likely that rice farming was developed simultaneously by different ancient civilizations in Asia.)
- What do you think rice farming was like thousands of years ago? (Although tractors are a recent invention, people have been modifying the movement of water and the shape of the land to grow rice for thousands of years. Without engines, people used the power of flowing water, human labor, and animal strength to move materials, plow fields, and weed and harvest crops.)
- Do you think rice was as important to ancient civilizations as it is to people today? (Rice was a foundational crop for ancient civilizations in India and China. The development of civilization went hand-in-hand with the development of agriculture.)
- What geographic features might be important to a civilization that depends on growing its own rice as a staple food? (There are many, for example: latitude and altitude (both affect the length of the growing season), the quality of the soil for fertility and for holding water (clay soils hold water, while sandy soils allow water to drain quickly), the presence of rivers to provide irrigation water, etc.)
Activity 3: Rice Processing
In order for harvested rice to be edible, the hulls must be removed. White rice is obtained by milling further to remove the rice bran (see Rice Examples page). White rice cooks more quickly and has a better shelf life than brown rice, but the nutritional value is reduced by removing the germ and bran.
Turning rough rice into brown rice (students should work in pairs):
- Ask students to place six rough rice kernels between two mouse pads and then remove the hulls by using a back and forth motion on the top pad.
- Students should continue to rub the two pieces of pad back and forth until all of the hulls are removed from the rice kernels. Rice hulls are often burned in biomass plants to produce energy or incorporated into animal feed.
- Once the hull is removed, students are looking at brown rice (which can be packaged and sold). But most of the rice they are familiar with is white, so...
Turning brown rice into milled white rice:
- Place the six hulless kernels of brown rice on a piece of sandpaper and lay a second piece of sandpaper on top.
- The students will need to rub the two sheets of sandpaper together for about 3-5 minutes or until they see the familiar white rice.
- When finished, the students will be able to observe two distinct rice products—milled white rice and rice bran. Eating brown rice, which includes the bran, helps people get their necessary dietary fiber and more nutrients. Most of the rice bran removed in the milling process for white rice is used in animal feed. After this milling experience your students will probably never look at a grain of rice the same again!
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation
After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:
- Rice is an important crop grown by farmers around the world. After harvest, the rice must be processed at a mill.
- Brown rice is milled to remove the hull, and then it is ready to package and sell to consumers. White rice is processed more in order to remove the germ and bran.
- Rice is a staple food for more than half of the people in the world.
- Geographic features that affect the availability of water and the length of the growing season help determine where rice is grown.
- Rice has been cultivated for thousands of years. Today we have advanced technology that helps achieve high rice yields, but in some parts of the world rice is still cultivated using only human and animal power.
We welcome your feedback! Please take a minute to tell us how to make this lesson better or to give us a few gold stars!
Create a mosaic using naturally and artificially colored rice.
Research the various types of rice and their uses as well as the climatic and environmental characteristics necessary to grow rice.
Create a class book that describes the growing and processing of rice.
Read Issue 4 of Ag Today titled Agriculture in Society. This reader can be printed or accessed digitally. Students will learn how agriculture plays a significant role in different geographic areas such as small towns, large cities, and local, state, and federal government. It also places a focus on where food comes from and why different foods are grown in different states.
Suggested Companion Resources
- Everybody Cooks Rice (Book)
- Glorious Grasses: The Grains (Book)
- If the World Were a Village (Book)
- One Grain of Rice (Book)
- Grains and Legumes of the World (Kit)
- Interactive Map Project (Poster, Map, Infographic)
- California Rice: Farming with Nature (Multimedia)
- How Farming Planted Seeds for the Internet (Multimedia)
- Ag Today (Booklets & Readers)
Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
Culture, Society, Economy & Geography
- Describe how supply and demand impact the price of agricultural goods (T5.3-5.a)
Food, Health, and Lifestyle
- Diagram the path of production for a processed product, from farm to table (T3.3-5.b)
Education Content Standards
Economics Standard 3: Allocation
ObjectiveEvaluate different methods of allocating goods and services, by comparing the benefits to the costs of each method.
K-4 Geography Standard 11: The patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth's surface.
Objective 2Some locations are better suited than others to provide certain goods and services.
K-4 Geography Standard 5: That people create regions to interpret Earth's complexity.
Objective 1Regions are areas of Earth's surface with unifying physical and/or human characteristics.
Common Core Connections
Mathematics: Practice Standards
CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP2Reason abstractly and quantitatively. Students make sense of quantities and their relationships in problem situations. They bring two complementary abilities to bear on problems involving quantitative relationships: the ability to decontextualize—to abstract a given situation and represent it symbolically and manipulate the representing symbols as if they have a life of their own, without necessarily attending to their referents—and the ability to contextualize, to pause as needed during the manipulation process in order to probe into the referents for the symbols involved. Quantitative reasoning entails habits of creating a coherent representation of the problem at hand; considering the units involved; attending to the meaning of quantities, not just how to compute them; and knowing and flexibly using different properties of operations and objects.
CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP7Look for and make use of structure. Students look closely to discern a pattern or structure. They recognize the significance of an existing line in a geometric figure and can use the strategy of drawing an auxiliary line for solving problems. They also can step back for an overview and shift perspective. They can see complicated things, such as some algebraic expressions, as single objects or as being composed of several objects.