Burly Beef: activities ages 5-7
Here are a set of activities provided to go along 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 and intolerances.
What is beef?
- Question the children to discover what they already know about beef. Together, look at pictures of some of the different ways that beef is eaten and ask them which of the meals they have tried and which are their favourites.
- Make bar charts or pictograms to show the information.
- Ask the children about where beef comes from. Do they know that it is from an animal? Tell the children that all meat comes from animals and show pictures of those most widely eaten; cattle , sheep, pigs and chickens.
- Ask the children to think about which of the four animals provide us with beef and agree that it is cattle. (The lesson plans for 7-11s include an activity which may be used or adapted for a younger age group in which children allocate different meat products to the correct animal.)
- You may feel it appropriate to talk about the fact that other animals are used to provide meat and that this differs from country to country. Some children may have eaten other meats and may wish to share what they know.
- Allow the children to demonstrate their understanding of some of the foods that are made from beef by completing a cutting, sticking and labelling activity.
- Look at the Eatwell plate to see where meat fits into a healthy diet. Think about one or two of the meals that you have looked at and separate the ingredients to see which sections of the plate they fit into. Tell the children that all of the different foods on the Eatwell plate provide different nutrients that our bodies need to stay healthy and that meat is a very good way for us to get the protein that we need. Explain that protein is especially important for children because it helps them to grow and builds their muscles. Children who do not eat meat need to make sure they are eating proteins from other sources such as eggs, nuts and cheese.
What are cattle?
- Explain to the children that cattle are usually kept to provide either milk or beef and that:
- Cows are adult females and can be used to produce either milk, beef or both. (Show the children a picture of a cow’s udders to show/remind them where the milk comes from.)
- Bulls are adult males and are used to produce beef. (Ensure the children know that male cattle cannot make milk and do not have udders.)
- Calves are young cattle, male or female.
- Together, look at the information sheet. Read and talk about the information. Ask children to choose their favourite fact/s. Talk to the children about how cattle are kept by farmers. Watch the Online Field Trip about beef, meet a beef cattle farmer and visit his farm to hear first-hand about what he does.
- Tell the children that there are more than 800 different breeds of cattle and that you are going to look at a few of them together.
- Choose a selection of the cattle breed picture cards that you feel are of most interest and put them in a box or bag. In small groups if possible, get individual children to draw out a card. Ask them to describe the type of cattle on the picture before showing the card to the others. Read the information together.
- As each card is pulled out, locate the country of origin on a large world map and ask the children to stick the cards in the correct places.
- Show the children some pictures of the well-known Friesian breed of cattle with the distinctive black and white markings. Tell them that no two cattle have exactly the same pattern. With this in mind ask the children to design their own unique cow. You may choose for the children to design traditional looking cows, by using only black and white, or allow them to use different colours.
- Read/re-read or remind the children about the ‘Elmer’ series of picture books by David McKee (about a brightly coloured patchwork elephant). The children may be inspired to design a very colourful ‘Elmer-style’ cow.
- Extend the activity by asking the children to invent a story about a colourful cow and to write and illustrate it as a book or a comic strip.
- Make 3D models of cows and decorate them by using paint or decoupage.
North and south
- Explain to the children that (depending on the type of farm) beef cattle can spend most of their time outdoors and will forage and chew grass for many hours (about half of the day). They also spend a lot of time lying down (about half of the day).
- It has been discovered that cattle tend to face due North and South when eating and lying down.
- Tell/remind the children about the four points of a compass: north, south, east and west.
- If possible, use a compass to find the direction of due north and south wherever you are.
- Play a game – ‘Which way are moo?’
- Decide on which way is north and which way is south. (If possible, put signs up on the walls to indicate which is which.)
- The children are the cattle. They move around the space (possibly on hands and feet.)
- On a signal (e.g. a whistle or a loud “moo”) they have to decide two things: one - whether they are grazing or resting and two - whether they are going to face north or south.
- If they decide to rest, they must lay down on the floor with their head facing either north or south. If they are grazing, they must get/stay on all fours and pretend to eat (again with their head facing either north or south.)
- Ask one child or adult helper to be the farmer. Without looking at the children, they must shout out either “grazing” or “sleeping” and either “north” or “south”. So, for example, they might shout, “sleeping, north”
- Whoever is facing north and sleeping is out and has to come and help the ‘farmer’.
- The game continues in the same way until only one or two of the cattle are left and he/she/they are the winners.4
Make beef burgers
This simple recipe may be adapted to include other ingredients if required.
Ensure the children wash their hands thoroughly both before and after the activity as they will be handling the meat.
500g lean minced beef
1 medium onion
Small bunch of parsley
1 x 5ml spoon mustard (optional)
6 bread rolls
3 medium tomatoes
Black pepper (optional)
Makes 6 burgers
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).
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.
- 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.
Large mixing bowl
Chopping board x 2
Either before or after making burgers, read a topic themed story such as one of the following:
- ‘Burger Boy’ by Alan Durant - a cautionary tale about a boy called Benny who will only ever eat burgers. His mother warns him that if he carries on in the same way he will turn into a burger… and he does! Use this book to talk about eating healthily and how variety is important in our diets.
- ‘The Perfect Hamburger’ by Alexander McCall Smith. This is the story of boy called Joe who wants to save his favourite local restaurant from closure when a big burger chain comes to town. His plan is to make the perfect burger. He knows just how to do it, but he has forgotten the recipe! Will he re-discover it in time? If you read the book before making the burgers, the children might like to imagine that they are making their own ‘perfect burgers’. The story could be re-written or re-told and adapted accordingly. Maybe the children could save their school canteen?
- ‘The Sensational Samburger’ by Davis Pelham. In complete contrast to ‘The Perfect Hamburger’, this story sees brother and sister Sam and Samantha, concoct the world’s most disgusting burger (including ingredients such as shampoo, mayonnaise, snails and worms!) All of the sneaky ingredients are hidden in the different layers of the burger by means of ingenious pop-ups. Get the children to create their own fantasy burgers with a few secret ingredients of their choosing! They might name them after themselves, perhaps with alliterative titles, e.g. ‘The Fantastic Freyaburger’ or ‘The Delicious Danburger’. They may also make their own ‘pop-up’ or ‘lift the flap’ style books.
For further suggestions please also refer to the Burly Beef activities and downloadable resources for 7-11. If covering the topic in some depth, you may feel that these plans may be used and differentiated accordingly.