Burly Beef: activities ages 7-11
Here are a set of activities provided to go with the Online Field Trip about beef. The intention is to inspire children to want to learn more about how beef gets from the farm to the fork. The activities may be done independently of each other. You may pick and choose whichever are most appropriate or interesting for your purposes.
Ensure parental/guardian permission has been sought prior to the tasting of any foods and that you are aware of existing food allergies.
The history of farming (9-11)
Explore with the children the fascinating ancient history of human progression from hunter-gatherers to farmers.
- Together, look at an early time line and talk through the different periods.
- You might like to take the opportunity to talk about AD and BC. [BC stands for ‘Before Christ’ and AD stands for ‘Anno Domini’ which means ‘the year of our Lord’. Instead of AD some people prefer to use the reference CE (meaning ‘Common Era’) and BCE (meaning Before Common Era)]
- The time line may be used to pose challenging mathematical questions about time differences. Mesolithic times
- The last ice sheet over Britain melted around 10,000BC. The climate became warmer and areas of woodland began to grow. As glaciers melted the sea-level rose leaving Britain as an island and separated from mainland Europe.
- The word Mesolithic comes from the Greek Mesos meaning ‘middle’ and Litho meaning ‘stone’, hence it is also known as the Middle Stone Age.
- Mesolithic people were still largely nomadic, but were beginning to settle for longer periods creating campsites near water sources. Their homes were becoming more permanent, made out of a number of poles covered with animal skin or thatch. These are like ‘tent houses’ and could be packed up and moved.
- Mesolithic people are often called hunter-gatherers because of the way they found food to survive, ‘hunting’ animals and ‘gathering’ wild nuts and berries.
- Tools were made out of flint microliths which were thumb shaped pieces of flint used to make sharp tips on spears and arrows. Tools were also made out of bone, to create fishing hooks and deer antlers for digging.
- The Mesolithic period ended around 5000BC when the Neolithic period began.
- Neolithic times started around 5000BC with the beginning of farming and ended around 2000BC when metal tools became widespread. (It is difficult to put accurate dates to these times because agriculture developed at different rates around the world.)
- Neo means ‘new’ in Greek, leading to these times being called the ‘New Stone Age’.
- Neolithic times saw the introduction of farming which is seen as one of the biggest changes in human history. There was a combination of farming as well as hunting and gathering, with agriculture growing and hunting and gathering reducing.
- People were less nomadic and built more permanent homes; rectangular log cabins with turf covered roofs.
- Neolithic farmers settled in stable communities, cleared land, planted crops and raised herds of sheep, cattle and pigs. Domestic pigs were bred from wild boar living in woods in Britain.
- Farming ideas spread across the British Isles.
- Real communities developed. Projects were worked on in groups, such as communal graves.
- Monuments such as Causewayed enclosures and henges (earthworks) were built and it is believed they were used for rituals and ceremonies to protect against cold, death and disease.
- Neolithic tools were made from flaking and polishing flint. Animal skins were used for clothes and important people wore necklaces made from wolve’s teeth.
- Pottery was seen for the first time. Following the introductory information you may ask the children to:
- Make Neolithic pots - round bottomed pots made out of coils of clay.
- Research further information using books or by searching online for sites such as http://www.historyforkids.org/learn/economy/farming/
- Take part in roleplay to show what they have learnt about life in those times.
- Make their own time lines, adding information and pictures.
- Write about a day in the life of a farmer in ancient times. Ask the children to consider whether they would have liked to have lived in those times and think about the ways in which life has changed dramatically from then to now.
- Make models of Mesolithic (covered in animal skin) and Neolithic (built with split logs) homes.
- Design tools thinking about what were they made out of and used for. Consider the transition from flint to metals; Stone to Iron Age.
- Make their own cave paintings using chalk and blackboards/or black sugar paper.
Find out about cattle (7-11)
Begin by finding out what the children already know about cattle through discussion and/or mind mapping. Consider the following information:
- What are cattle?
- Ask the children what they understand the word ‘cattle’ to mean.
- The word Cattle describes animals which are mammals and belong to the genus ‘bos’. (Genus means class and bos means wild and domestic cattle.)
- Cattle are generally bred to produce either milk or beef. We get milk from dairy cows and meat from beef cows. Females from both produce milk and meat, but some breeds are better milk producers and some are better meat providers.
- ‘Cattle’ does not refer to any breed, gender, age or type. Within the general term of Cattle are the following definitions:
- Cows – a fully grown female animal of a domesticated breed that has given birth to at least one or two calves, kept to produce beef or milk.
- Bulls – a fully grown male used for breeding purposes.
- Heifers – female cattle that have not had a calf.
- Steers – male cattle that are used primarily for beef (and not for breeding).
- Bullocks – male cattle that are used for beef (and not for breeding).
- Calf – a young female or male in it’s first year.
- Cattle may also be referred to as ‘bovine’ – and include buffaloes, bison and oxen.
Where do beef cattle live?
- Most beef farmers operate a system which involves grazing in the summer and housing during the winter. A smaller proportion of farmers will keep a percentage of their herd inside in the summer. What do beef cattle eat?
- Most animals spend the summer months in fields grazing on grass and indoors in the winter when the grass has stopped growing. During the winter they will eat grass which has been preserved as silage.
- Cattle diet is often supplemented to make their meat more nutritious for us to eat. For example, they are fed cereals such as barely or protein feeds such as beans.
- Some beef cattle are indoors all year around. Housed animals are fed a variety of food including grass products such as hay or silage.
- New born calves are fed colostrum for the first six hours of life. Colostrum is produced by the calf’s mother after giving birth and it contains essential antibodies, vitamins and minerals to protect the calf during its life. It is very important for calves to take in enough colostrum in the early stages of life as it determines future health and performance for the calf.
- There are over 800 breeds of cattle worldwide.
- Some breeds are known as ‘dual purpose’ because they can be dairy or beef. However, most herds tend to be one or the other.
- British beef breeds have evolved from different parts of the country e.g. Aberdeen Angus, Hereford, Galloway and South Devon.
- During the 1960s larger breeds, such as Charolais, Limousin and Simmentel were introduced from Europe.
- There are three main types of beef breed:
- British-type (originating from the UK)
- Continentals (originating from European countries)
- Composite (developed through cross-breeding)
- Download and print out the cattle fact cards.
- Ask the children to use them in one or more of the following ways:
- Pull a card out from a bag and read the information to the class.
- Share the cards out and find the countries of origin of the different breeds on the world map.
- Find out about other breeds and fill in blank cards with similar information.
- Produce a cattle-inspired alphabet wall frieze as a class – ‘Cow A-Z’. Can the children find a cattle name for every letter?
- Mix up the letters in the names of different breeds of cow for children to unscramble in a word jumble activity. e.g. IBRSTIHAHARISOCL-BRITISHCHAROLAIS ERAEEBDNUSANG-ABERDEENANGUS Ask the children to make up their own word jumbles and test each other.
Top ten producers (9-11)
- Ask the children to guess some of the countries that they think might be in the top ten beef producers in the world.
- Show them the list and see if they managed to guess any of them.
- In order, the countries are: United States, Brazil, European Union, China, India, Argentina, Australia, Mexico, Pakistan, Russia and Canada.
- The top three USA, Brazil and the European Union produce at least two or three times more than anywhere else in the world.
- Challenge the children to label the top ten beef producing countries on the map of the world.
Cattle farmers (7-11)
- Children should watch the Burly Beef related Online Field Trip videos on the Eat Happy website before undertaking this activity.
- Referring to the research and learning the children have already done, talk about what life must be like for a cattle farmer.
- Have one of the children take on the role of the farmer, and answer questions from the rest of the class on what life is like.
- Write a diary entry about a day in your life from the point of view of a cattle farmer.
- Use the internet to research what it is like to farm cattle in other countries.
Looking after cattle (9-11)
- Split the children into small groups and ask them to consider the rights that cows should have if they are to be looked after properly.
- Come back together and discuss any ideas that the children have had.
- Together, look at the ‘5 Freedoms’. (A free pdf download is available at http://www.rspca.org.uk/)
- The RSPCA believe that anyone looking after animals should try to provide them with the five freedoms, which are as follows:
- Freedom from hunger and thirst – by providing enough water and the right amount and type of food to keep them fit.
- Freedom from discomfort – by making sure the animal has the right type of shelter and somewhere comfortable to rest.
- Freedom from pain, injury and disease – by preventing them from getting ill or injured and making sure they get treated rapidly if they do so.
- Freedom to behave normally – by making sure animals have enough space, proper facilities and the company of other animals of their own kind.
- Freedom from fear and distress – by making sure their conditions and treatment avoid mental suffering. Compare the ideas that the children had and match them up to the ‘5 Freedoms’.
Tags and passports (7-11)
- All cattle must be able to be individually identified. Ask the children why they think this might be important. (Cattle identification and traceability are important for disease control and for maintaining consumer confidence in farm produce.)
- The children may take on the role of farmer and comply with cattle identification regulations. A calf is born. What must they do?
- Make primary tags.
- Each animal needs one primary tag (which must be yellow) and one secondary tag which must have the same unique number.
- The tags go in separate ears and must be fitted within 20 days of an animal’s birth. • The primary tag must contain: Crown logo The country code (UK) The herd mark A six digit individual animal number
- Since 1 July 1996, cattle born in or imported into Great Britain must have a cattle passport. This identifies them and their movements and must stay with them throughout their lives.
- The cattle passport includes details of the animal, where it has been throughout its life and details of its death.
- A passport must be applied for within 27 days of an animal’s birth. Play the ‘ear-tag game’ (7-9)
- One child is the farmer and the rest are calves.
- Each calf is ‘tagged’. (The ‘tag’ may attached by using double sided tape on their back or by using coloured bands tucked into their clothing.)
- The ‘calves’ move/run around the ‘field’ (a designated area). The farmer tries to take the tag off the calves. When a calf is de-tagged it moves out of the field (designated area of playground or field).
- When one calf remains, they are the winner and a new farmer is chosen.
- Any discussion about eating meat will require some thought. You may have children in the class who are vegetarian or vegan; or children who are Muslim or Jewish and may only eat halal or kosher meat; or from a different religious background with other views. Sensitivity will be required. However it is important that children learn where their food comes from and therefore that the subject is broached in a careful and age-appropriate manner.
- Talk about what sort of meat the children eat. Use the pictures in the photo pack to stimulate discussion. Ask questions such as:
- Do you like sausages/ burgers/ meat pies?
- What is your favourite meal that includes meat?
- Are there any types of meat that you don’t like or haven’t tried? (7-11)
- Use the sheet provided to match up different types of meat and meat products to the animals they come from. Talk about how some products, such as mince and burgers can be made from the meat of different animals and how some are specifically from one source (e.g. ham is only from pigs.)
- Look at a picture showing the outline of a cow and where the different cuts of beef come from. (9-11)
- The hindquarter produces the naturally tender cuts of meat such as rump or sirloin. They may be sliced into steak and cooked quickly on a grill or a barbeque. They are also cut into bigger pieces and used for roasting joints. Topside is another hindquarter cut of meat used for roasting.
- The forequarter is front end of the cow which gives cuts of meat such as chunk or shin; this requires slower cooking to make it tender and can be used for casseroles or stews.
- The sheet may be cut into sections and used as a ‘tangram’ style puzzle.
- If they wish, allow any vegetarians or vegans to explain why they do not eat meat/meatproducts.
- Discuss with the children about how different cultures have very different views about what it is acceptable. (9-11)
- In India for example, many Hindus revere cows, and will not eat them.
- Camel meat is eaten in parts of the Middle East and Africa.
- Alligator meat is eaten in Southern America.
- Frogs legs are eaten in France.
- Kangaroo meat is eaten in Australia and is exported to over 50 countries worldwide.
- Ask the children to research other animals that are eaten for meat and then make a survey to see which animal meat the class would and would not try. (9-11)
- As well as providing us with milk and beef, there are many other by-products that come from cattle, such as gelatine, keratin, rennet and bone meal. If appropriate, ask the children to research and find out about some of the less well known products that cattle are used for. (9-11)
- Ask the children to order the journey of how beef goes from farm to fork using sentences and pictures. The sentences may be matched to the pictures and ordered, or children may order the pictures and write their own captions.
- Look together at a version of the Eatwell plate.
- Explain that the meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy foods section of the plate represents 12% of a healthy daily diet and that these are the foods that give us protein.
- Protein is a very important element of our diet and beef, like all meat, is a source of protein.
- Protein builds up our muscles, organs and glands. It makes haemoglobin which carries oxygen in blood around the body and also makes antibodies to protect against disease.
- Beef also contains several B vitamins (B12, B2, B6, B5) and minerals (including potassium, selenium, zinc and iron).
- Protein is needed for normal growth and development of bone in children. Make beef burgers (7-11)
- The recipe below is very simple and may be adapted to include other ingredients if required.
- Ensure the children have washed their hands thoroughly as they will be handling the meat. ￼
500g lean minced beef
1 medium onion
Small bunch of parsley
1 x5ml spoon mustard (optional)
6 bread rolls
3 medium tomatoes
Black pepper (optional)
Large mixing bowl
Grater Chopping board
x 2 Sharp knife
How to make:
1. Set the grill to a medium heat
2. Tip the minced beef into the mixing bowl
3. Peel the onion and then grate into the bowl with the minced beef
4. Finely chop the parsley and add to the onions and beef
5. Add the mustard (if using) and season well with black pepper to taste (if using)
6. Using Clean hands, mix and squash the burger ingredients together, working the onion and the seasonings through the minced beef until they are evenly distributed
7. Divide the burger mixture into 6 portions. Using both hands, work each portion into a neat ball
8. Place them on another chopping board (or a clean, flat surface) and press them down to form burgers about 10cm in diameter and no more than 1cm deep)
9. Using the spatula, place the burgers under the grill. Cook for 5 minutes, then carefully turn them to cook the other side. The burgers are cooked when the meat in the centre has turned from red to brown.
10. Wash and dry the lettuce and tomatoes. Slice each tomato into 4 circles and shred the lettuce. Place 2 circles of tomato inside each bread roll with a few strips of lettuce. Insert the burger into the bread roll and serve with mustard (if using)
- The mustard and black pepper will add extra flavour without being too spicy.
- The meat may be ‘bulked out’ by adding breadcrumbs (approx. 10g breadcrumbs per 100g meat). Adding an egg will bind the breadcrumbs and meat together.
- You may wish to add further ingredients such as: chopped mushrooms, a tablespoon of parsley, cheese etc.
- Adapt the recipe for vegetarians by using a meat substitute such as Quorn or soya mince.
When the children have made and tasted the burgers they may:
- Write a recipe of their own (maybe using their own photographs).
- Adapt the recipe to include different ingredients.
- Separate the components of the meal to see where they fit into the Eatwell plate.
Bulls Eye Quiz (7-11)
- Create a target board with 3 concentric circles.
- Label the outer circle as 10 points, the middle circle as 20 points, the inner circle as 30 points and the bullseye as 50 points.
- Devise a way to hit the target. (Children might throw something at the target board, or play a game such as ‘Tiddlywinks’ or ‘Shove ha’penny.)
- Divide the children into small teams.
- Once the children have landed on the board they 50 must pick a card and answer the question correctly ￼to receive the points. (If they do not answer correctly, play moves on to the next team.)
- Use the bulls eye quiz multiple choice questions to test their learning about beef.
- If the team answers correctly, they receive the number of points on the target board.
- Set up a ‘Moo-ometer’ (like a thermometer) to record each team’s results as they play!
- You may set a target number to win (for example, the first team to 300 points), use a time limit or set a specific number of questions per team. Creative Cows (7-11) 30 20 10 Example
- Look at photographs and pictures of cattle and notice the variety of patterns; no two are the same!
- Allow the children to make their own individual breed by designing an original pattern onto a blank template.
- Make 3D models of cattle and decorate them using decoupage.
- Read/re-read or remind the children about the ‘Elmer’ series of picture books by David McKee (about a brightly coloured patchwork elephant).
- Ask the children to invent a similar story about a colourful cow and write and illustrate it as a book for younger children. If possible, get the children to share their stories with some of the younger children in your school. Brain-teasers
- Download and play ‘Where are moo?’ (A ‘Battleships’-style co-ordinates game for two players.) (7-9)
- Players have one board each and a barrier between them so that they cannot see each other’s board.
- Each player places one (or more) cattle on one (or more) of their squares, taking careful note of the co-ordinate/s.
- Players then take turns to guess on which square their opponent’s cattle is placed, by suggesting different co-ordinates.
- The children will need to keep track of the co-ordinates they have tried in some way. (Either by jotting them down or marking them off on a separate board.)
- The first player to find the position of (all) their opponent’s cattle is the winner.
- Ask some of the children to try a few word problems by printing the ‘Brain teasers’ sheet. When completed, ask them to invent a similar sheet for others to try.