Great Corn Adventure will help your students learn
- The history of corn.
- Corn is an important grain around the world.
- How corn grows
and its various stages of growth.
- How corn is harvested.
- The many uses of corn.
- The distribution of corn from the
field to consumer.
A Little about Corn
Corn was called mahiz by the Native
Americans who first met Columbus. Corn is known as maize
throughout most of the world.
It’s botanical name
is Zea mays and that is why our character’s
name is Zea Mays.
members of the grass family, corn is a monocot. It has only one cotyledon
or seed leaf.
Corn plants contain both male and female flowers in different
locations on the plant. An ear of corn is actually a female
flower stalk, resting
the sheaths of the leaf and stem. The only part of the female flower that
we see when the plant is growing are the fine hairs called silks.
actually tubes through which pollen will travel when released
from the male flower or tassel that branches at the top of
The wind carries pollen from the tassels on some corn
to silks on others. Each strand of silk that is fertilized
develops into a kernel of
the characteristics of both parents.
Statewide Learning Standards for Third Through Fifth Grades
- Describe the simple life cycle of the corn plant and
the parts of the corn kernel.
- Use a chart system to observe the growth of a corn plant
and an ear of corn.
- Be able to describe the functions of sun, water, and
soil in the development of corn.
- Explain how using a moisture tester helps to indicate
when corn is ready to be harvested.
- Be able to identify and explain ways science and technology
focusing on different uses of corn have influenced our
- Be able to make a sample collection of corn kernels or
ears showing the various stages of development.
- Read with understanding and fluency about corn and its
- Clarify word meaning using context clues and a variety
of resources including glossaries, dictionaries and thesauruses
to know the basic vocabulary of corn production, utilization,
and corn anatomy as told through a guided study of corn.
- Establish purpose for reading; ask questions; make predictions;
connect, clarify, and examine ideas about corn.
- Use language arts to acquire, access, and communicate
information about corn and how it grows.
- Formulate questions and construct a basic research plan
in studying and comparing various kinds of corn.
- Organize and integrate information from a variety of
sources such as books, interviews, library reference materials,
web-sites, and CD Roms.
- Describe artistic expression of self and others through
interactive activities in the Fun Place.
- Identify and describe the elements of 2- and 3-dimensional
space by developing models of a corn plant or ear of corn.
- Collect, organize and analyze data using statistical
methods; predict results; and interpret uncertainty using
concepts of probability.
- Organize, describe, and make predictions about corn yields.
- Formulate questions, design data collection methods,
gather and analyze data and communicate findings by using
the various learning activities to study corn.
- Ask students to keep a list of products from home that
are made from corn.
- Invite a farmer to your class. Ask the
students to find out how the farmer decides when to plant
and harvest corn. What happens to the corn
crop? How many bushels per acre does he grow? What interesting stories does the
have about growing corn?
- Find out about how different cultures or
parts of the country use corn for food. Some examples are
tamales, tortillas, hominy, succotash, corn bread,
corn pudding, corn on the cob, and creamed corn. Have a “corn
- Make a Corn Corner in your classroom. Have the
students bring in their discoveries relating to corn and write
a brief description about their
- Make corn husk dolls in the fall with corn husks. You'll
need 12 corn husks per doll (if you use sweet corn and
husk the ears in class, you can cook and eat the corn.);
yarn, string or colored cord; scissors; magic markers and
- Gather 12 corn husks from the sweet corn and tie
them tightly together at one end with the yarn or
- To make the
head, tie the husks a little way down from the
- Gather three of the husks and tie them together halfway
down for an arm. Gather and tie three more husks at
the opposite side of the doll to form another arm.
Trim away some of the excess corn husk below the know
to even up the end.
- To make the body, tie the remaining corn husks halfway
between the head and the ends.
- Make the legs by taking three husks and tying them
together a little way up from the ends.
- Make the other leg the same way.
- Decorate with colored felt-tip markers, construction
paper, fabric, or other supplies you may have.
- Bring a bushel basket to the classroom. Talk
about how corn is measured in bushels and how many ears
of corn it takes to fill a bushel. How many pounds of shelled
corn (kernels removed from the cob) are in a bushel? It's
- See if there is a corn
maze in your community. If so, invite the farmer to the
classroom to discuss how a corn maze is made.
- Have the class
brainstorm all the different occupations that are connected
to corn. See how many different jobs they can name.
- If you live in an area where corn is being grown, make a
collection of corn ears showing the six stages of development.
- Germinate corn kernels in your classroom. Place a moist
paper towel in a clear plastic ziplock bag. Then place corn
kernels between the bag and the moist towel. Then watch the
germination process. Which emerges first? The root or the
shoot? Why? The root emerges first to ensure that the shoot
that follows will have nutrients and moisture to continue
the growth process.
Corn is pollinated by the wind. Since every
silk must be pollinated in order to have a full ear of corn,
corn plants close together
there will be lots of pollen available.
If you have just a couple of plants
outside your classroom, you may want to try pollinating the
corn. Once you see the tassels emerge, look for
in a few days. The silks will be receptive to pollen for 10-14 days.
See if you can observe the silks’ tiny hair – like receptors
that hold onto the pollen.
To transfer the pollen, shake or remove pollen
from the tassel and sprinkle
it on the silks of the same or another plant. In about 30 days, you
should be able to enjoy the fruits of your experiment.
Corn Belt Harvest by Raymond Bial, Houghton Mifflin
Company, 1991. ISBN 0-395-56234-1.
The Story of Corn by Betty Harper Fassel, North Point Press, 1999.
An agriculture site for students and teachers with excellent
Ohio Corn Marketing Program
A wealth of information about corn. Everything from
harvesting to nulling. An especially interesting section
Kansas Corn Growers Association
King Corn.org from Purdue University
Offers a web-based encyclopedia of knowledge about the production,
marketing and usage of corn in North America.
Ag in the Classroom - Illinois Farm Bureau
Teaching resources and information about grants for Illinois