fbpx Skip to content

Your opinion matters!

Take a short survey about our Ford member incentive program

The Relationship between Strawberries and Agriculture in Fifth Grade



Students will gain a deeper understanding for growing strawberries through the application of force and motion, inherited traits, weather patterns, changes of matter and interdependence of organisms.

Subject Area(s)

Reading, Math, Science, Social Studies

Essential Files/Links


Accelerate: to move more quickly, to increase in speed.

Balanced forces: two individual forces of equal magnitude and opposite direction. For example: A book sitting on a table. The table pushes up on the book as gravity pulls down on the book, holding it in place. Forces are balanced.

Celsius: a scale of temperature whereas water freezes at 0 degrees and boils at 100 degrees.

Community: a group of people living in the same place or having characteristics in common.

Commensalism: as association between two organisms in which one benefits and the other is neither benefited nor harmed.

Consumer: a person who purchases goods and services.

Daughter plant: a plant that is naturally reproduced through the mother plant.

DNA: deoxyribonucleic acid, a self-replicating material, which is present in nearly all living organisms as the carrier of genetic information.

Dominant: influential or prominent.

Ecosystem: a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment.

Fahrenheit: a scale of temperature whereas water freezes at 32 degrees and boils at 212 degrees.

Friction: the resistance that one surface or object encounters when moving over another.

Force: strength or energy as an attribute of physical action or movement.

Gene: a unit of heredity that is transferred from parent to offspring and determines some characteristic of the offspring.

Gravity: the force that attracts a body toward the center of the earth, or toward any other physical body mass.

Heredity: the transmission of genetic characters from parents to offspring.

Hybridization: the process of plant breeding with an individual of another plant species or variety.

Inertia: a property of matter by which an object continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line.

Ingredients: any of the foods or substances that are combined to make a particular dish.

Irrigate: supply water to land or crops to aid in growth.

Life cycle: a series of changes in the life of an organism including reproduction.

Motion: the action or process of being moved.

Meter: the fundamental unit of length in the metric system, equal to 100 centimeters.

Mutualism: an association between two organisms that is beneficial to both organisms involved.

Neutralism: an association between two organisms without having an effect on the evolutionary fitness of each other.

Offspring: the descendants of a person, animal, or plant.

Parasitism: relationship between two organisms in which one benefits at the expense of the other.

Parent plant (mother plant): an organism that has produced one or more organisms similar to itself.

Plant breeders: scientists driven by the creative process of developing new plant varieties.

Plugs: small- sized seedlings grown in polystyrene or a polythene tray and removed from the tray for planting.

Precipitation: rain, snow, or hail that falls to the ground.

Predict: guessing or estimating something will happen.

Producer: a person, or country, that makes, grows, or supplies goods for sale.

Propagation: the breeding of an organism (plant) by natural processes from the parent stock.

Punnett square: a square diagram used to predict genotypes of a particular cross or breeding experiment named after Reginald C. Punnett, who invented this approach.

Rain gauge: an instrument used to measure and gather liquid precipitation over a period of time.

Reaction: an action preformed or a feeling experienced in response to a situation or event.

Recessive: relating to or denoting heritable characteristics controlled by genes that are expressed in offspring only when inherited by both parents.

Runner: a shoot or branch off of the strawberry plant often referred to as a “daughter plant.”

Speed: the rate at which someone or something is able to move or operate.

Strawberry: a sweet, soft, red fruit with a seed-studded surface.

Temperature: degree of hot or cold that can be measured by a thermometer. Temperature is measured in degrees on the Fahrenheit, Celsius, and Kelvin scales.

Traits: observable, physical characteristics obtained through genetic inheritance.

Transplanted: to be moved or transferred to another place or situation.

Velocity: the speed of something in a given direction.

Water cycle: cycle of processes where water circulates between the earth’s oceans, atmosphere, and land, involving precipitation as rain and snow, drainage in streams and rivers, and returning to the atmosphere by evaporation and transpiration.

Weight: the heaviness of a person or thing.

Wind: the perceptible natural movement of the air, especially in the form of a current of air blowing from a particular direction.

NC Ag Facts

  • Did you know strawberries can be grown anywhere in North Carolina? In 2019, about 1,100 acres were harvested and planted across all regions of North Carolina including the piedmont, coastal plain, and mountain regions.1
  • Strawberry harvest begins in early-mid April in Eastern North Carolina, early May in the Piedmont, and mid-June in the Mountains.2
  • Strawberries should be picked every other day or about 3 times a week, with the best time to pick in the early morning hours.2
  • North Carolina designated the strawberry as the official red berry of the state in 2001.4
  • North Carolina is the fourth-largest producer of strawberries in the United States.1
  • April signals the start of strawberry season in North Carolina, and in a season with high yields, strawberries will continue to produce through the end of May, until Memorial Day and ends in mid-June in the mountains.1

Background Knowledge

Strawberries are unique! Did you know strawberries are the only fruit that wear seeds on the outside? Most fruits that are categorized as “berries” contain their seeds inside the fruit; however, strawberries are not considered a true berry. Strawberries are a member of the rose family. There are several different fruits and berries that belong to the rose family including raspberries, blackberries, cherries, apples, and pears. Strawberry plants are perennials. That means if you plant one it will grow back year after year, but most strawberry farmers do not use this method. Instead they purchase strawberry plugs, which are young, small strawberry plants that are grown and then transplanted in the farmer’s strawberry patch. Strawberries are also the first fruit to ripen in the spring, and no other small fruit produces berries as soon after planting as strawberry plants.2

Health Benefits

Strawberries have many health benefits. Listed here are a few facts to better understand their health benefits.

  • Strawberries are packed with nutrients! Nutritionists have found strawberries to be an excellent source of vitamin C.2 Levels of vitamin C help protect the human eyes from free radicals in UV rays that can damage the protein of the eye lens.3
  • One serving of fresh strawberries (one cup or about 6-9 berries) has only 50 calories is a significant source of fiber in the diet.3
  • They are a good source of potassium and manganese.3
  • Strawberries are rich in antioxidant compounds such as anthocyanin, quercetin, resveratrol, and ellagic acid. These compounds found in strawberries help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and hypertension, improve immune systems, and reduce cognitive declines in aging.3 Ellagic acid helps prevent wrinkles and repair skin damage caused by UV rays.
  • Additional benefits of strawberries include healthy support for eyes, brain activity, and prenatal development for expecting mothers.3
  • The polyphenol compounds found in strawberries have been linked to promoting proper brain functionality by protecting the central nervous system against neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, and Dementia.6
  • Strawberries can regulate blood pressure due to their potassium content of 18 milligrams per berry.3

Planting & Caring for Strawberries

In North Carolina, strawberry farmers plant in the fall, around late September through early October, depending on the location. The plants are planted as transplants in rows on raised beds. The raised beds are covered with a special plastic that is typically black in color. This plastic serves as a weed barrier, increases soil warmth through insulation, holds in moisture, and provides a clean surface for strawberries to grow and ripen. Between the rows, rye grass is often planted to prevent soil erosion. Throughout the growing season, farmers watch the weather for rain and extreme temperatures that drop below freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit or lower). They irrigate the berries in dry conditions with watering systems, such as sprinklers or drip tape laid beneath the black plastic. Additionally, during winter months, with below freezing temperatures sprinkler systems are used to provide a layer of ice as a barrier for frost protection for the strawberry plants. Strawberries are typically harvested in late April through May, and can continue to June, depending on weather and location.

Did you know that if an average of 25 strawberry plants were planted, these plants and the resulting runner plants would produce 25 quarts of strawberries? Imagine nearly 6 gallons of strawberries produced from 25 plants.If it takes approximately 5 lbs. of strawberries to make a gallon, how many lbs. could a farmer sell from 25 strawberry plants? Answer: 30 lbs.

Student Motivator

Before you begin identify any food allergies among the students. Provide them with a few favorite breakfast and snack foods such as a strawberry pop tart, fruit roll-up, and any other foods with strawberry as an ingredient. Allow students to conduct a taste-testing party. Ask students, “What is your favorite snack food you sampled today? What is the common feature among these different snacks?” Direct student conversations by explaining that the snack foods they sampled contain strawberries to provide a desirable flavor. Ask students the following questions:

  • Have you ever eaten a strawberry?
  • Have you ever picked your own strawberry?
  • Have you ever eaten a strawberry grown in your local county?
  • Have you ever eaten another food that had strawberries in it?

Create a class pictograph, bar graph, or tally chart to display the information. Explain to students the next several days/weeks we are going to be learning more about strawberries and how important they are in our diet and in our community.


Activity 1: Students will gain a deeper understanding of weather and weather patterns.

Standards: 5.E.1, 5.E.1.1, 5.E.1.2, 5.P.2.1, 5.NBT.7, 5.MD.B.2, W.5.2.B, W.5.7


  • Rain gauge
  • Water Cycle Chart (see Essential Files)
  • Indoor/outdoor thermometer
  • Whiteboard
  • Pencil/eraser
  • Chart paper
  • Markers

Essential Files/Links:

  • Virtual Class Weather Data Chart
  • Upcoming Weather Predictions 
  • The Water Cycle
  • Sprinkler Irrigation  
  • Drip Tape Irrigation
  • Ground Covering
  • Frost Protection of Strawberries Passage
  • Irrigation Systems for Strawberry Plants
  • Ground Covering for Strawberries
  • Weather Patterns, Farmers Actions Record Sheet

Essential Questions:

  • Do strawberry farmers predict weather patterns?
  • Why is weather important to strawberry farmers?
  • Are farmers important to our community?
  1. Bring students together as a whole group in a central location.
  2. Begin the lesson with an introduction to weather. Explain to students that over the next week they will be tracking weather patterns (wind, precipitation, and temperature). Track the weather using the Virtual Class Weather Data Chart (see Essential Files). Explain to students that the weather will be tracked on a bar graph so the occurrences of weather patterns are monitored. Talk to students about temperature scales: Fahrenheit and Celsius.
  3. After tracking weather patterns for about a week discuss the data collection with students.
  4. Allow students to work collaboratively in groups (3-4 students in each group) to predict upcoming weather patterns. Students will document their predictions and share with the class. For example: If weather pattern data collection accounted for 4 inches of rainfall in the week of observation, students may predict there will be an average rainfall of 4 inches the following week. On the opposite side, some students may feel that the rain has passed on and there will be no new rainfall. Students can also predict daily temperature, sun, and cloud occurrences. Students will document their predictions on Upcoming Weather Predictions (see Essential Files).
  5. After students have shared their weather predictions display an image of The Water Cycle (see Essential Files). Explain the process of the water cycle to students and how it relates to weather patterns we have seen over the last few weeks.
  6. Assignment: Students will draw and/or create a diagram of the water cycle.
  7. After students have learned more about weather patterns and the water cycle, connect student learning to occupations that study the weather, specifically a strawberry farmer.
  8. Say to students, “Now that we have gained a deeper understanding of weather patterns and the water cycle, let’s think about why understanding and predicting the weather could be important. I want you to think about farmers in and around our local area. Do you think farmers have to predict weather patterns?”
  9. Start a class discussion and sharing of ideas. Another option could be providing students with sticky notes and a pencil. Students will write their thoughts on the sticky note and post their comments on a board in the classroom. Students will read other classmates comments and gain more ideas.
  10. Write the question on the board: Question: Do strawberry farmers have to predict or monitor weather patterns? Provide explanation: “Strawberry farmers, as well as all farmers, most certainly predict the weather. It is important for farmers to monitor weather patterns so they know the best planting and harvesting times. Additionally, strawberry farmers have to predict the possibility of frost when strawberry plants begin to flower. If farmers are anticipating a frost they cover blooming plants with row covers or use a sprinkler system to keep the frost from damaging the growing plants.” Show a video clip to help guide students understanding and provide a visual. Video Link: https://www.ncfarmtoschool.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Strawberry-Ag-in-the-Classroom-2.mp4
  11. Continue discussion with students regarding weather and the actions farmers take to protect their strawberry crop, “Likewise, farmers carefully watch the weather in order to know when to irrigate. Some farmers use irrigation systems such as drip tape or overhead sprinklers to maintain the appropriate amount of water to their growing strawberry plants.”
  12. Show students pictures of these processes:
    • Sprinkler Irrigation (see Essential Files).
    • Drip Tape Irrigation (see Essential Files).
    • Ground Covering (see Essential Files).
  1. Allow students to select one photo they find most interesting and conduct research on how these systems are helpful to farmers.
    • Sprinkler irrigation can be used for frost protection of strawberries. The Sprinkler Irrigation document (see Essential Files) provides a detailed explanation. Also, provide students with a reading passage for research: Frost Protection of Strawberries Passage (see Essential Files).
    • Irrigation is used during times without much rainfall. There are different types of irrigation. For a detailed explanation of irrigation systems see the passage Irrigation Systems for Strawberry Plants (see Essential Files). Introduce the passage to students and provide students with Irrigation Systems for Strawberry Plants to use as research on the topic.
    • Row covers are used during winter and spring months when frost is of concern. For a detailed explanation of row covers see the passage Row Covers for Strawberries (see Essential Files). Introduce the passage to students and provide students with Row Covers for Strawberries to use for research on the topic.
  1. After researching, provide students with time to explain their understanding of weather and processes farmers use to grow their strawberries as it relates to different weather patterns. Provide students with Weather Patterns, Farmers Actions Record Sheet (see Essential Files). Students will write their response on their record sheet and turn in for grading.
  2. Extension: During weather recording, tie in math by having students measure the amount of rainfall using a rain gauge. Have students document and record the amount of rainwater on a graph, specifically a line plot. Students will collect data and analyze the amount of rainfall over a period of time. Or calculate the average temperature of the week by adding daily temperatures over a designated period of time and dividing by the number of days. See example below.


Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
70 75 68 72 65

Question: What is the average temperature from your observation?

Answer: Average weekly temperature is 70 degrees.

Activity 2: Students will understand the relationship of force and motion as it relates to simple machines used in planting and growing strawberry plants.

Standards: 5.P.1, 5.P.1.1, W.5.9, SL.5.1


  • Technology (computer/SMART Board/document camera)
  • Chart paper
  • Markers

Essential Files/Links:

Essential Question: Are farmers important to our community?

  1. Introduce students to force and motion.
  2. Show videos to expand understanding of force and motion:
    • Science Trek: Force &Motion (about 30 minutes)

    • Science Trek: Force & Motion short video (about 3 minutes)

After watching the videos, talk with students about key terms to describe force and motion: gravity, friction, balanced forces, force, speed, meter, motion, velocity, weight, and inertia.

Extension: Take it a step further with a review game for key terms associated with Quizlet. Link here: https://quizlet.com/12938892/force-and-motion-key-words-flash-cards/ Quizlet is easy to use, just sign-up for free to create your own or simply use as a reference tool while teaching by clicking on the link above.

  1. Say to students, “Now that we have a deeper understanding of force and motion, I want you to brainstorm different professions that consistently think about force and motion. (Possible answers: construction workers (lifting objects—force), teachers (writing with pens/pencils—force), office jobs (sitting in a chair—force), any profession that requires push and pull motions). Say, “Let’s take it a step further and brainstorm actions that use force and motion.” Allow students to give brief examples and share out for a few minutes. (Possible answers: walking (gravity and force), chewing a piece of gum (force), typing a text message (force), writing with a pencil (force), sliding down a slide (gravity and force), sitting in a chair (force), anything that requires push and pull motion.)
  2. Then, get more specific and ask students, “Do you think farmers have to think about the relationship between force and motion?” (Answer: Yes. Farmers are constantly thinking about and using force and motion. Whether it is with farm equipment such as a tractor, plow, trucks, etc., farmers are always walking and using their hands for writing, documenting rainfall, and calculating crop acreage. Farmers walk down the fields to check on their crops, farmers have to lift and carry large objects, farmers irrigate their crops (force), farmers use equipment that use force and motion, farmers write down important things about the crop (writing is a force).)
  3. Create a Jamboard (through Google Suite) or Padlet (see link: https://padlet.com/) for students to pose their ideas and responses. Note: If technology is limited, have students write their responses down on a sticky note and post on a bulletin board or white board, or find a program on a separate computer and allow students to go up individually to put in their answers.
  4. Once responses have been entered, talk as a group about the different examples of force and motion.
  5. Say to students, “Now we are going to take it a step further. First, let’s review Newton’s 3 laws of motion.”
    • Things that are motionless and things that are moving keep moving with a steady speed unless a force of some kind pushes or pulls on them.
    • When a force acts (pushes or pulls) on an object, it changes the object’s speed or direction (makes it accelerate). The bigger the force, the more the object accelerates.
    • When a force acts on an object, there’s an equal force (called a reaction) acting in the opposite direction. This law is sometimes written as “action and reaction are equal and opposite.”
  1. Look at pages 7-8 in the book From Farm to School – Crops of North Carolina: A Visit to the Strawberry Patch by Heather Barnes and Karen Baltimore. Say to students, “In these photos there are examples of force and motion. I want you to identify the different aspects of force and motion using Newton’s three laws of motion.

  1. Provide students with Strawberry Farming: Force & Motion (see Essential Files). Students will draw, write examples, and explain how force and motion are working in their drawing of the pictures shown. (Answers: The tractor is an example of a simple machine. The tractor moves by a wheel and axle system that is propelled by power from the engine/motor. The tractor pulls the raised bed plastic mulch layer. The farmer has to drive with a constant speed so the plastic is laid evenly. The plastic is pulled off of the roll and laid onto the ground. Students should identify the key terms they learned in their explanation.)
  2. Collect student work and grade using the Rubric for Strawberry Farming: Force & Motion (see Essential Files).

Extension: To expand on student learning, allow students to play a review game to learn more about force and motion. Students can play games in groups of 2-4 students. This can be played prior to student evaluation of strawberry farming equipment.

Force & Motion Review Game see link: http://classroomgamenook.blogspot.com/2016/05/force-and-motion-freebie-game.html

Activity 3: Students will learn the states of matter in creating their own ice cream.

Standards: 5.P.2, 5.P.2.2, 5.P.3, 5.P.3.2, 5.MD.A.1


  • Whiteboard
  • Markers
  • Scale
  • Chart paper
  • Ziploc bag (gallon-sized)
  • Ziploc bag (sandwich-sized)
  • Half and half
  • White, granulated sugar
  • Pure vanilla extract
  • Ice
  • Kosher salt
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Strawberries (from grocery store or local strawberry farm)
  • Technology devices (computer/iPad/SMART Board)

Essential Files/Links:

  • Ice Cream in a Bag
  1. Bring students together in a central location in the classroom. Begin the lesson by asking students a simple question, “Do you like ice cream?” Engage in student conversations about favorite flavors.
  2. Ask questions such as, “How is ice cream made? What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Do you like ice cream in a cone or a bowl?”
  3. Create a class poll or graph to display students’ favorite ice cream flavors (i.e. chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, etc.)
  4. Display the chart in the classroom.
  5. Now, say to students, “By a show of hands, have you ever made ice cream?” If a student has any experiences to share, allow them time to share with their classmates.
  6. Say, “So some of you may have made homemade ice cream, but I have one more question for you. Have you ever made ice cream in a bag?” Hold up a large-gallon sized Ziploc bag. Say, “Typically, we see ice cream in the frozen section of the grocery store or maybe at a restaurant or in an ice cream shop, but ice cream can be made in your home with just a few ingredients.
  7. Say, “Since we have mentioned ingredients let’s go through and look at what we need.” Making ice cream in bag ingredients: half and half, white granulated sugar, pure vanilla extract, ice, kosher salt, and strawberries. Say to students, “We will be making our own ice cream using these ingredients, but the most important ingredient today is strawberries because we are going to make strawberry ice cream using Ice Cream in a Bag.” (see Essential Files)
  8. Talk with students about measuring and following the steps of a recipe.
  9. At each station, have students come up and put ingredients in their bag. Students will measure out ingredients then return to their seat and prepare their ice cream. Note: Use at least 2-3 stations with 2 students working at each station. Monitor student measuring and use of ingredients.
  10. Students will then weigh their ingredients before the mixture changes. Have students document the weight of ingredients.
  11. As students are watching their ice cream change from liquid to solid, explain the changes to the state of matter that occur with heating and cooling.
  12. Have students come back up and weigh their mixture again to determine if weight changes have occurred.
  13. Show a video: Changing Water –States of Matter

  1. After students have had enough time to complete their ice cream in a bag, pass out spoons and allow them to eat their creation.
  2. Explain to students, “Today you made your very own ice cream. You have measured ingredients, followed steps, and created a product. The product is strawberry ice cream. Strawberries are a very popular fruit in North Carolina and are used in a lot of great dishes, prepared in meals, eaten fresh from the field, frozen, bought from a grocery store, and so much more. After creating your strawberry ice cream today, what other types of recipes can you think of that use strawberries as an ingredient?”
  3. Extension: Have students write and/or share a recipe with strawberries as an ingredient. Students can complete this as a homework assignment or classwork. Allow students to share out their favorite dishes with strawberries.

Activity 4: Students will understand the inheritance of traits and identify dominant and recessive traits in themselves.

Standards: 5.L.3, 5.L.3.1, 5.L.3.2, W.5.9

  • Chart paper
  • Whiteboard
  • Markers
  • Pencil
  • Technology devices (computer/iPad/SMART Board)

Essential Files/Links:

  • Dominant & Recessive Identification Chart
  • Diagram of a Strawberry Plant
  • Life Cycle of a Strawberry Plant
  • Picture of a Strawberry

Essential Questions:

  • Are strawberries grown from seeds?
  • What is the life cycle of a strawberry plant?
  • Are farmers important to our community?
  1. Begin lesson by asking students a question, “Have you ever wondered why we look the way we do? Why our eye color is brown, green, or blue? Why our hair color is brown, black, or blonde?” These are all characteristics that are called traits. A trait is a physical characteristic or feature, which is inherited from one or more parents. The transmission of traits from parents to offspring is known as heredity.
  2. Have students draw a self-portrait.
  • How to Draw a Self Portrait: for Kids

  1. Next, ask students to brainstorm other living things that have observable characteristics or features. Students should identify plants and animals possess traits from the parent(s).
  2. Explain to students that traits are passed down from parents to their children through DNA. The piece of DNA that carries the trait is called a gene. Explain to students the two different types of genes: dominant and recessive.
  3. On the board write the two words: dominant and recessive. Explain a dominant trait is displayed if one or both parents carry the trait. A recessive trait is displayed only when both parents carry the trait.
  4. Test students’ knowledge of dominant and recessive traits by asking questions, “First, how many of you have attached earlobes?” Allow students to raise their hands. Next, say to students, “If you raised your hand then you demonstrate a recessive trait, as attached earlobes are a recessive trait and unattached earlobes are a dominant trait.”
  5. Pass out Dominant & Recessive Identification Chart (see Essential Files). Allow students time to look through and identify different character traits to identify dominant and recessive traits. Have students count up how many traits are dominant and recessive.
  6. Say to students, “It is easy for us to see traits passed down in humans and even in animals, but did you know that plants also have traits passed down from their parents?”
  7. Show students a picture of a Diagram of a Strawberry Plant (see Essential Files). Explain to students the parts of a strawberry plant. Draw attention to the mother plant (point to the actual plant) and a daughter plant (point to the runner).
  8. Say to students, “Did you know strawberry farmers produce strawberries from strawberries?” Remind students of the Life Cycle of a Strawberry Plant (see Essential Files).
  9. Say to students, “As you look at the life cycle of a strawberry I want you to take a guess at how strawberry plants are started.” Show students a Picture of a Strawberry (see Essential Files). Ask students, “Can you find or locate the strawberry seeds?” (Most students will probably respond yes and say on the outside of the strawberry. Explain to students that strawberries are a unique fruit because their seeds are on the outside of the fruit.) Say to students, “I have one more question for you: Do strawberries we eat grow from seeds?” (Some students may respond yes and some may say no.) Say to students, “Strawberries can be grown from a seed like most other fruits and vegetables, as well as through a process called propagation. Most growers or gardeners do not plant seeds. They buy plants that have already been grown (transplants), or propagate their own.
  10. Draw students’ attention back to a Diagram of a Strawberry Plant (see Essential Files). Point out the runner on the diagram. Say to students, “This runner will be the start of a new strawberry plant. This runner is a daughter plant.”
  11. Say, “Now what I want you to do is draw and explain how you think propagation works. Think to yourself, what does the farmer do? What materials are needed?” Allow students time to draw out their predictions and make a few comments.
  12. After students have made predictions share this video with them explaining strawberry propagation.
  • Strawberry propagation video:

  1. After watching the video have students draw how propagation really works and compare/contrast the similarities and differences in the 2 images and/or descriptions they have drawn.
  2. Gallery walk: Students will participate in a gallery walk to observe classmates work. Students will leave completed work on their desk and quietly walk around the room viewing the different ideas of their classmates. Rules for the gallery walk should be established before it begins.

Activity 5: Students will gain a deeper understanding of observable traits through investigation of Punnett squares, GMOs and hybridization.

Standards: 5.L.3, 5.L.3.1, 5.L.3.2, 5.RI.7, W.5.2.B, W.5.2.D, SL.5.1, SL.5.4


Essential Files/Links (see list on Page 1 for downloadable files):

  • Strawberries and Hybridization
  • Strawberries and Hybridization Analysis
  • Punnett Square Project

Essential Questions:

  • What is hybridization?
  • Are strawberries grown from seeds?
  • Are farmers important to our community?
  1. Begin the lesson by saying to students, “You have learned a lot about characteristics and traits in humans, animals and plants. Today we are going to learn a bit more about how strawberry farmers and strawberry plant breeders grow strawberry plants.”
  2. Ask students, “What is a GMO?” Answer: GMO means genetically modified organism and this is an organism that has been genetically altered.
  3. Say to students, “I am going to show you a short video clip that can help clear up any questions about GMOs; this video is actually the journey of a seed.”
  4. Watch video: Jake, the GMO seed

  1. After the video, say to students “This is an example of a seed that has been cross germinated to obtain desirable traits in the developing commodity. In some cases strawberry farmers use a method called hybridization. Say, “What is hybridization? You are going to learn more about hybridization and GMOs related to strawberries in this passage.”
  2. Share the reading passage, Strawberries and Hybridization (see Essential Files), with students.
  3. After students have read the passage, ask them to identify what genre this text is. Say to students, “What genre is our passage, Strawberries and Hybridization?” Students should identify it as a non-fiction passage. Talk with students about the use of text features (identify text features in reading passage). Have students write a summary of what they learned about hybridization and GMOs on Strawberries and Hybridization Analysis (see Essential Files). Students should make connections to text features within the text. Have students to explain how the text features helped them to better understand their reading.
  4. Take it a step further and have students review some of the key terms found in their reading using Quizlet.com via this link:
  1. Say to students, “Now that you are beginning to understand the concept of hybridization we are going to practice this process using a Punnett square.”
  2. Say to students, “We have learned that strawberry farmers use hybridization to breed different species for desired characteristics. We know that it takes two species to create a hybrid-cross. So for us to continue we first have to answer this question, what is a Punnett square?” (A Punnett square is used to predict the genotypes of a particular cross or breeding experiment. It is used to determine the probability of an offspring having a particular genotype.)
  3. Say to students, “This is a very scientific way of saying we are taking two plants examining their traits and then breeding those two plants to create a new hybrid with desirable traits. This is also known as hybridization. So how do we do this? We create a Punnett square!”
  4. Punnett Square Project: Say, “You are a farmer who likes to study genetics. In studying genetics you want to create a new strawberry plant. In fact, you have found there is a market for different colored strawberries.” This is the first part of the instructions for students on the Punnett Square Project (see Essential Files).
  5. Students will follow instructions in the Punnett Square Project to create their own strawberry plant. Students will explain what characteristics their two strawberry plants have and what characteristics they want their hybrid-cross to display. Students will name their strawberry and create an ad to market their new and improved strawberry to the public.
  6. Students will submit their project for a grade. As a part of their grade have students write a short essay about what they have learned about genetics, hybridization, and Punnett squares. Have them include the importance of these concepts to a farmer as the producer and consumer.

Activity 6: Students will understand the interdependence among plants and animals in various ecosystems across different parts of the United States of America.

Standards: 5.L.2.1, 5.L.2.2, 5.L.2.3, 5.G.1.3, W.5.6, 5.E.1, 5.E.1.1


  • Technology (computer/SMART Board/document camera)
  • Chart paper
  • Markers
  • Crayons/colored pencils
  • White copy paper

Essential Files/Links:

  • Map of North Carolina
  • Map of the United States of America
  • Global Strawberry Compare and Contrast

Essential Questions:

  • Do strawberry farmers need to understand the ecosystem?
  • Are farmers important to our community?
  1. Bring students together in a central area of the classroom. Begin lesson by showing students the Map of North Carolina (see Essential Files). Ask students, “What is this map displaying?” Students should quickly respond that it is the state of North Carolina.
  2. Give students a brief explanation of growing and marketing strawberries. Say, “We have learned a lot about strawberries. How are they available for purchase at other times of the year (out of season) in grocery stores?” Allow students time to ponder their thoughts. Say to students, “Turn and talk about your ideas with the person to your right, and those at the end of the rows you will turn to face each other.” As students discuss, circulate around the different groups to listen for student responses.
  3. Show students the Map of the United States of America (see Essential Files).
  4. Say, “I am going to give you the simplest answer. Strawberries are grown all across the United States of America. Some of the main producing states include California and Florida. Why do you think this is the case?” Student responses may include: climate, weather, soil type, good for growing fruits, etc.
  5. Say to students, “Strawberries, like many other fruits, vegetables, and agricultural products are exported from the United States to other countries around the world. North Carolina strawberry farmers do not plant varieties to export, but to sell locally. However, consumers can enjoy strawberries all year long because we get strawberries from other states or import them from other countries.” Note: This would be a great opportunity to teach students about imports and exports if time permits.
  6. Next, provide each student or student group with the Map of the United States of America (see Essential Files). Share the AgMRC website with students so they may have a better understanding of geography and especially the areas of the United States that grows strawberries.
  1. Have students read and brainstorm information they read on the website. Most importantly, have students zoom in and use the map located at the bottom of the page. This map shows specific strawberry farms across the United States of America.
  2. Specifically, have students zoom in on North Carolina and talk about the different areas of North Carolina that are shown to grow strawberries.
  3. Extension: For a global perspective and awareness have students research other countries that produce large amounts of strawberries. Some countries may include Spain, Canada, and Australia.
    • Step 1: Students will select a country.
    • Step 2: Research things about that country: culture, population, climate, etc.
    • Step 3: Students will research the process of growing strawberries in that country. (How are they grown, when they are planted and harvested, etc.)
    • Step 4: Students will then compare and contrast the country they selected to how strawberries are produced in North Carolina using Global Strawberry Compare and Contrast (see Essential Files).

Activity 7: Students will gain an understanding of organisms within an ecosystem and the relationship between the two.

Standards: SL.5.4, W.5.7, 5.L.2.1, 5.L.2.2, 5.L.2.3


  • Technology (SMART Board/computer/iPad)
  • Crayons/colored pencils
  • White copy paper
  • Craft materials
  • Recycled cardboard boxes

Essential Files/Links (see list on Page 1 for downloadable files):

  • Creature Comparison Chart
  • Hardcopy Creature Comparison Chart
  • Interdependence Response Sheet
  • Ecosystem Project Rubric

Essential Questions:

  • Do strawberry farmers need to understand the ecosystem?
  1. Now that students have a good understanding of where strawberries are grown across North Carolina and the United States of America it is time to dive a little deeper. Say to students, “Through our lessons we have learned how strawberry plants are grown and we have learned what parts of the state and different states they are grown in. Now we are going to learn more about strawberry production in these areas, especially looking at the ecosystems found across these states.”
  2. Bring students to a central area of the classroom.
  3. Write the word ecosystem on the white board. Ask students to explain, “What is an ecosystem?” An ecosystem is a geographic area where plants, animals, and other organisms, as well as weather and landscape, work together to form life. Ecosystems contain biotic and abiotic factors.
  4. Show the students the Creature Comparison Chart (see Essential Files). Have them first look at the different animals and insects. Then explain to students they are going to help you categorize these animals and insects into two groups: helpful and harmful. Say to students, “When I call on you, choose a creature and tell me if it would go into the helpful or harmful category. You may “phone a friend” for help. Once you have chosen your answer come up to the SMART Board and drag the creature into the correct column.” Note: If technology is not available, there is also a hard copy of this activity: Hardcopy Creature Comparison Chart (see Essential Files).
  5. Say, “Now, let’s think about how these creatures impact the growth and production of strawberries. Before you start I want to teach you a few terms that describe the plant/animal relationship. Explain to students the meaning for animal/plant relationships: mutualism, parasitism, commensalism and neutralism.
  6. Show students the image list of all the creatures in the previous activity. Say to students, “As we go through these images I want you to tell me what relationship the creature has with the strawberry plant. For example, birds can be an example of commensalism because they like to eat ripe strawberries. But there are some other things we have to consider with this example.” Pose questions and discussion with students:
    • We also need to take into consideration that the bird could damage the strawberry plant in the process of eating the strawberry. If this were the case what type of relationship would this be? (If a bird takes a strawberry and damages the plant this could be an example of parasitism because the bird is benefiting at the loss of the strawberry plant.)
    • How would this affect the strawberry plant? (It could prevent the production of runners and integrity of the plant itself.)
    • What about the farmer? What precautions will the farmer take to prevent birds from eating the strawberries? (The farmer may use scarecrows to distract and prevent birds from going near the strawberry plants.)
    • Explain to students that they really have to think about each stage and all effects when looking at interdependence between organisms. First, think about the growing stage of the strawberry plant, and then each stage of the insects or animals that we are discussing in relationship with the strawberry plant.
  1. Provide students with Interdependence Response Sheet (see Essential Files). As you display each image slide, students are going to write their response on their sheet with a pencil.
  2. Say to students, “Now I want to tell you why it is important for us to pay attention to the creatures in ecosystems. Insects/animals and plants live within the same ecosystem. Well, imagine you are a farmer growing strawberries. Do you think it is important for the farmer to understand the ecosystem and how it works?” Allow students to respond. Possible answers: Yes, farmers have to know the soil type. Yes, farmers have to know what may eat the strawberries or the strawberry plants.
  3. Say to students, “Do farmers have to think about ecosystems, (think to self and say) It would be nice if we could ask an actual strawberry farmer.” Show this short video clip:


  1. Say, “Wow, it is amazing to see what we are learning actually play out in real life. Now let’s look at different places around the United States of America that grow strawberries, the places that you have researched previously. Say, “We are going to consider all aspects of what makes up an ecosystem when analyzing each state. Think about the climate, soil type, animals present, land availability, etc.”
  2. Ecosystem Project
    • Students are going to select one ecosystem to study; students will create a diorama of that ecosystem and/or a pamphlet describing the ecosystem and what plants/animals live in that ecosystem.
    • Students will create a chart to categorize the different insects/animals as helpful or harmful to the strawberry plants
    • Students may present their diorama/pamphlet to the class as a project grade.
    • See Ecosystem Project Rubric (see Essential Files).

Concept Elaboration and Evaluation:

  • Do strawberry farmers predict weather patterns? Strawberry farmers, and all farmers, need to be aware of weather patterns. It is important for farmers to monitor weather patterns so they know the best planting and harvesting times. Additionally, strawberry farmers have to predict the possibility of frost when strawberry plants begin to flower. If farmers are anticipating a frost, they cover their blossoming plants with a covering or use a sprinkler system to keep the frost from damaging the growing plants. Likewise, farmers carefully analyze weather conditions in order to know when to irrigate. Farmers use irrigation systems such as drip tape to maintain the appropriate amount of water to their growing strawberry plants.

Show Videos:

Do strawberry farmers predict weather patterns? See video link: https://www.ncfarmtoschool.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Strawberry-Ag-in-the-Classroom-2.mp4

How do you water your strawberries? What is the difference between drip tape and sprinkler irrigation? See video link: https://www.ncfarmtoschool.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Strawberry-Ag-in-the-Classroom-4.mp4

  • Why is weather important to strawberry farmers?

Weather is one of the most crucial uncontrollable variables for strawberry farmers’ success. Each year, they try to determine the best time to set out their plants based on predictions for the coming year. Yields and the start of harvest are affected by when they plant and how cool/warm the weather is in the fall, winter, and spring. The most sensitive period is in the spring, when plants are flowering and frosts can damage or kill the flowers, buds, and developing fruit. Growers protect their plants with overhead irrigation and/or row covers. During that vulnerable period, growers listen carefully for forecasts of a frost/freeze event in their area. Many have frost alarms that will wake them up at night when temperatures fall to a certain level, so they can start their irrigation system (which they have to do before temperatures actually reach freezing). Frost/freeze events happen every year, and strawberry growers are prepared for them. (School gardens will want to watch the weather too, and cover their plants if frost might damage them.)

Other particular weather issues for strawberries:

  1. Very cold weather (below 15-20 degrees F) in December-February can damage plant crowns. Growers sometimes cover plants with row covers during this time.
  2. Hot weather in March-April (above 85-90 degrees F) can kill flowers. Some growers give their plants cooling showers with short bursts of water on these very hot days. They generally don’t continue this practice after harvest starts.
  3. Rain during harvest damages fruit, and makes pick-your-own customers reluctant to come to the farm, and encourages plant diseases. A rainy weekend can be a serious economic loss for a farmer.
  4. Drought is not generally a problem because farmers have drip irrigation. But if it is very dry in the summer, it can be hard to get the land prepared for planting in the fall. Extended drought can reduce water in farm ponds, which can be used for irrigation.
  • Are farmers important to our community?

Farmers are essential to the needs of the community. Students should recognize that most of the food they eat was grown on a farm, processed in a factory, and sent to the store where consumers purchase it. These foods are available year-round in supermarkets and restaurants. Fresh produce is now available year-round because it comes from farms in many parts of the U.S. and from other countries, but North Carolina farmers grow lots of fruits and vegetables. The produce from local farmers is available during the part of the year when our climate allows them to be grown and harvested.

  • Are strawberries grown from seeds?

Strawberries are unique because they can be grown in different ways. Strawberries can be grown from seeds. However, strawberries are almost never grown from seeds (except perhaps for alpine types). Like most fruit crops, they are vegetatively propagated, from a plant part and not seeds. One important reason they are propagated this way is this ensures the offspring will be “true-to-type,” basically clones of the parent plants. Strawberries make this process easier than other fruits because they naturally propagate prolifically through their runners and daughter plants. Farmers and gardeners have been raising strawberries from the runners ever since strawberries were domesticated.

  • What is the life cycle of a strawberry plant?

Strawberries are perennial plants. The same plant can survive and bear fruit many years, spreading out by adding new plants near it from its runners. This is how many home gardeners and some commercial growers, mostly in more northern areas, raise their strawberries. Among commercial growers, this practice is generally called “matted row.” Strawberry farmers in the Southeast (as well as in Florida and California) raise their strawberries as annual plants, harvesting them for only one year. North Carolina farmers set out their plants in the fall (September/October), harvest them in the spring (April-June), and then turn the plants under and start all over again the next fall with new plants. Planting on black plastic helps keep the plants growing during the winter so there can be a good harvest the following spring. These first year plants are very productive and have large fruit; those growers who choose to keep plants for a second year of harvest find that berries tend to be much smaller; in addition, plants that are carried over through the summer don’t do well with the North Carolina summer heat and are much more likely to get diseases in the heat and humidity that will affect the next summer’s crop.

  • What is hybridization?

Hybridization is the act of mixing different species or varieties of animals or plants and thus to produce hybrids (a new form of species). The most common type of hybridization involves crossing two organisms of different breeds (in cultivated plants, these are called varieties or cultivars) within the same species. This is also called crossbreeding. In agriculture, it is used to create healthier crops, varieties that combine good features of the two parents or new flavors. Take strawberries for example, the modern garden strawberry, Fragara ananassa, is derived from 2 native American strawberries, the Virginia “scarlet” strawberry, and the Chilean strawberry (which is found on the Pacific Coast of Alaska to Chile). This cross between varieties created the strawberries that are now grown today. Farmers and scientists have since crossed other varieties based on certain traits to create new strawberry varieties with different desirable traits. Another example of cross-species hybridization is the tangelo, a cross between a tangerine and a pomelo. In agriculture, it is vitally important to maintain genetic diversity, and by extension, the health and longevity of a crop. Hybridization is not to be confused with genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which means a foreign agent or genetics of a totally different type of organism (like genes from a bacterium into a plant) have been introduced to the original organism to produce desired results (www.wishfarms.com/genetically-modified-organisms-gmos- explained/)

  • Do strawberry farmers need to understand the ecosystem?

Yes. Farmers have to be aware of the surroundings, organisms, environment and other factors that make up an ecosystem. Here are a few things to consider:

  • First, the farmer has to think about the soil. Strawberries like well-drained, reasonably fertile soil with a pH of 6.0-6.5. They are grown in a variety of climates and soil conditions around the world.
  • Choice of a strawberry variety is also important for growers/farmers strategy. Within each variety there are some suitable for narrow climate ranges, where others are more broadly adapted. Key factors for growers include yield, flavor, disease resistance, and harvest season.
  • Insects and pests of strawberries differ somewhat for growers depending on the method they use matted row (a perennial system) or Plasticulture (annual system). The main pest for NC Plasticulture strawberries is the twospotted spider mite. Other pests may include leafrollers, strawberry clippers, thrips, and aphids. Deer are always a major problem, birds and opossums.

Suggested Companion Resources

National Agricultural Literacy Outcomes

Agriculture and the Environment 

  • Explain how the interaction of the sun, soil, water, and weather in plant and animal growth impacts agricultural production
  • Identify the major ecosystems and agro-ecosystems in their community or region (e.g., hardwood forests, conifers, grasslands, and deserts) with agro-ecosystems (e.g., grazing areas and crop growing regions)
  • Recognize the natural resources used in agricultural practices to produce food, feed, clothing, landscaping plants, and fuel (e.g., soil, water, air, plants, animals, and minerals)

Plant, Animals, Food, Fiber, and Energy 

  • Understand the concept of stewardship and identify ways farmers/ranchers care for soil, water, plants, and animals

Food, Health, and Lifestyle 

  • Describe the necessary food components of a healthy diet using the current dietary guidelines
  • Diagram the path of production for a processed product, from farm to table
  • Identify food sources of required food nutrients

Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics 

  • Compare simple tools to complex modern machines used in agricultural systems to improve efficiency and reduce labor
  • Identify examples of how the knowledge of inherited traits is applied to farmed plants and animals in order to meet specific objectives (i.e., increased yields, better nutrition, etc.)
  • Provide examples of science being applied in farming for food, clothing, and shelter products

Culture, Society, and Geography 

  • Discover that there are many jobs in agriculture
  • Explain the value of agriculture and how it is important in daily life

NC Standard Course of Study

English/Language Arts

5.RI.7 Draw on information from multiple print or digital sources, demonstrating the ability to locate an answer to a question quickly or to solve a problem efficiently.
W.5.2.B Develop the topic with facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples related to the topic.
W.5.2.D Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.
W.5.6 With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of two pages in a single sitting.
W.5.7 Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.
W.5.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
SL.5.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

SL.5.4 Report on a topic or text or present an opinion, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.


5.NBT.7 Add, subtract, multiply, and divide decimals to hundredths, using concrete models or drawings and strategies based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction; relate the strategy to a written method and explain the reasoning used.

5.MD.A.1 Convert among different-sized standard measurement units within a given measurement system (e.g., convert 5 cm to 0.05 m), and use these conversions in solving multi-step, real world problems.
5.MD.B.2 Make a line plot to display a data set of measurements in fractions of a unit (1/2, 1/4, 1/8). Use operations on fractions for this grade to solve problems involving information presented in line plots. For example, given different measurements of liquid in identical beakers, find the amount of liquid each beaker would contain if the total amount in all the beakers were redistributed equally.


5.L.3 Understand why organisms differ from or are similar to their parents based on the characteristics of the organism.

5.L.3.1 Explain why organisms differ from or are similar to their parents based on the characteristics of the organism.

5.L.3.2 Give examples of likenesses that are inherited and some that are not.

5.E.1 Understand weather patterns and phenomena, making connections to the weather in a particular time and place.

5.E.1.1 Compare daily and seasonal changes in weather conditions (wind speed and direction, precipitation, and temperature) and patterns.

5.E.1.2 Predict upcoming weather events from weather data collected through observation and measurements.

5.P.1 Understand force, motion and the relationship between them.

5.P.1.1 Explain how factors such as gravity, friction, and change in mass affect the motion of objects.

5.P.2 Understand the interactions of matter and energy and the changes that occur.

5.P.2.1 Explain how the sun’s energy impacts the processes of the water cycle (including, evaporation, transpiration, condensation, precipitation, and runoff).

5.P.2.2 Compare the weight of an object to the sum of the weight of its parts before and after an interaction.

5.P.3 Explain how the properties of some materials change as a result of heating and cooling.

5.P.3.2 Explain how heating and cooling affect some materials and how this relates to their purpose and practical applications.

5.L.2.1 Compare characteristics of several common ecosystems, including estuaries and salt marshes, oceans, lakes and ponds, forests, and grasslands.

5.L.2.2 Classify the organisms within an ecosystem according to the function they serve: producer, consumers, or decomposers (biotic factors).

5.L.2.3 Infer the effects that may result from the interconnected relationship of plants and animals to their ecosystem.

Social Studies

5.G.1.3 Exemplify how technological advances (communication, transportation, and agriculture) have allowed people to overcome geographic limitations.

5.E.1 Understand how a market economy impacts life in the United States.

5.E.1.1 Summarize the role of international trade between the United States and other countries through Reconstruction.

Sources and Credits

  1. https://www.morningagclips.com/2019-n-c-strawberry-season-under-way/
  2. https://burke.ces.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/strawberries-in-the-home-garden-copy.pdf?fwd=no
  3. https://ncstrawberry.com/consumers/consumer-information
  4. https://statesymbolsusa.org/symbol-official-item/north-carolina/state-food-agriculture-symbol/strawberry
  5. https://strawberryplants.org/strawberry-plant/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18211020

Additional Links



http://brobichaud.pbworks.com/w/page/27565767/Life Cycle of a http://www.schoolrack.com/mcisek/task/



Lessons supported by:

Back To Top