Lesson Plans

Welcome to the “Lesson Plans” section of the website. Here you will find all the teaching resources, educational videos and interactive lesson plans you will need to bring Moo Crew to life in your classroom.

Lesson 4: Dairy and the Environment

Welcome to Lesson Plan 4: Dairy and the Environment, designed to help pupil’s understanding of the relationship between dairy production and the environment. This lesson plan also includes information about the effects of climate change on farming and the impact of extreme weather events.

LESSON PLAN: Infants
VIEW

OBJECTIVE

To develop pupils’ understanding of the relationship between weather, the environment and farming.

Duration: 30 minutes (approximately).

CURRICULAR LINKS

WORDS OF THE DAY

Environment: Everything living and non-living around you, including the air.
Weather: The weather tells us how hot or cold and how wet or dry it is in a place each day.
Climate: The climate tells us what the weather is like in a place over a long time.
Drought: A drought is when the weather is dry for a very long time and there is no rain or very little rain.
Flood: A flood is water that covers land which is normally dry.

CLASSROOM DISCUSSION

  • Ask pupils to discuss what they understand by the word ‘weather’.
  • Ask pupils to describe the weather yesterday and today. Compare.
  • Explain the term ‘weather’ (see Words of the Day).
  • Now ask pupils to discuss the weather they may have experienced in another country, for example, France or Spain.
  • Explain the term ‘climate’, highlighting that while the weather in Ireland changes every day, that normally our climate is never too hot or too cold.

Pair Discussion

  1. Begin by asking pupils to think of any signs of unusual weather they have experienced locally, for example, a really hot summer in Ireland, lots of snow, very wet weather or really stormy weather. Discuss as a class.
  2. Draw a sun, snow cloud, storm cloud and rain cloud on the board. Ask pupils, working in pairs, to look at each of the four images and to chat about how hot, snowy, stormy and wet weather can affect themselves, their families or people in their locality.
  3. Inform pupils that extreme unusual weather is caused by changes in the climate.
  4. Highlight the importance of us all looking after our planet so that we don’t have this unusual weather happening more often.

Activity

Personal Activity

Ask pupils to recall what dairy is and explain the function of a dairy farm. Give each pupil a copy of the ‘Dairy and the Environment’ activity sheet. Ask pupils to look at the four images which highlight how life on the dairy farm is affected by extreme unusual weather (climate change). Read out the following sentences and ask pupils to identify the correct image, numbering 1 to 5. Discuss as a class.

  1. During snowy weather animals need to be kept inside.
  2. In bad weather, roads can become dangerous. This can affect milk being collected from farms and being delivered to schools and homes.
  3. In bad weather, like on stormy days, cows can’t go outside on the grass, so farmers have to give them extra food.
  4. When it is very dry and there is less rain, this affects the amount of grass for animals to eat.
  5. Droughts and fl oods can destroy a farmer’s crop.

Extension Activities

  1. Divide pupils into five groups, assigning each group one of the ways (opposite) in which the dairy farm can be affected by climate change and asking them to illustrate this.
  2. Ask pupils to draw two pictures, one illustrating a dairy farm on a day with normal weather and the other illustrating a dairy farm on a day of extreme unusual weather.
  3. Encourage pupils to bring their School Milk cartons or bottles home to recycle.

Bring It Home

Encourage your pupils to take home the message of the impact climate change has on the environment. As a homework activity, you can ask your pupils to:

  1. Record the weather for a week and draw a picture of how the weather affected their family activities. For example, did a wet day prevent the family doing an activity they would normally do?
LESSON PLAN: Juniors
VIEW

OBJECTIVE

To develop pupils’ understanding of the relationship between weather, the environment and farming.

Duration: 30 minutes (approximately).

CURRICULAR LINKS

WORDS OF THE DAY

Environment: Everything living and non-living around you, including the air.
Food miles: It takes energy to grow, to make, to move and to store food. The further your food has to travel, the more energy is needed and the higher its food miles will be. Food miles is the distance food travels to get from the farm to our plates.
Weather: It describes the atmosphere in a place at a particular time, for example, how hot or cold and how wet or dry it is.
Climate: The climate describes the usual weather in a place over a long period of time.
Climate change: Humans have been doing a lot of activities that make gases which are gathering in the atmosphere. These gases act like a blanket causing the earth to slowly heat up. This means that climates are changing around the world.

CLASSROOM DISCUSSION

Group Discussion

Ask each group to discuss the following questions and to then share with the class. Note key points on the board

  1. What is ‘weather’?
  2. What is ‘climate’?
  3. What is ‘climate change’?
  4. Can you think of any signs of climate change?

Expand on the ideas explored in groups by discussing climate change further as a whole class, using the ‘Words of the Day’ section and the following points:

  • Using locally grown / sourced seasonal food uses fewer food miles.
  • Using food with little or no packaging helps to reduce waste.
  • A carrot from South Africa travels 6,000 miles.
  • Walking to the shop for food rather than using the car reduces food miles.

Class Discussion

Discuss the following points about the relationship between dairy and the environment:

  • Due to where Ireland is on the planet we have a cool, temperate climate.
  • Having this climate means that our cows can graze outdoors on lush green grass for up to 300 days a year (nearly a year).
  • Due to our mild, wet climate, the dairy produced in Ireland uses up to 20% less water than most European countries.

Discuss the following points about the impact of climate change on farming:

  • During extremely snowy weather, animals need to be kept in shelters during times of the year when they are normally outside.
  • In bad weather, dangerous road conditions affect deliveries and collections of milk.
  • When cows are unable to be outside on the grass, farmers have to give them extra food.
  • Very dry weather conditions and less rain affects the amount of grass (food) available for the animals.
  • Droughts and fl oods can reduce the size of a farmer’s crop and can even destroy a crop.

Activity

Pair Activity

Complete the Dairy and the Environment cloze passage.

Personal Activity

Ask pupils to imagine they are farmers and to write an account of daily life as a dairy farmer. How do they care for the cows? How does weather affect life on the farm? How has extreme weather affected their life?

Extension Activities

  1. Invite a farmer to speak to the class about how climate change has impacted his / her farming. Ask pupils to write about it.
  2. Ask pupils in groups to think of ways that they can reduce their food miles.
  3. Encourage pupils to bring their School Milk cartons or bottles home to recycle.

Bring It Home

Encourage your pupils to take home the message of the impact climate change has on the environment. As a homework activity, you can ask your pupils to:

  1. List locally grown food they have at home.
  2. Make a family contract to reduce food miles.
LESSON PLAN: Seniors
VIEW

OBJECTIVE

To develop pupils’ understanding of climate change, the environment and farming.

Duration: 30 minutes (approximately).

CURRICULAR LINKS

WORDS OF THE DAY

Environment: Everything living and non-living around you, including the air.
Greenhouse gas emissions: Gases, such as CO2, that trap the heat of the sun in our atmosphere, causing it to heat up (just like a greenhouse).
Food miles: The distance food travels from the farm to our plates. Energy is used to grow, process, transport and store food, which creates greenhouse gases. The further your food has to travel, the higher its food miles will be.
Climate change: Due to greenhouse gas emissions, the Earth is heating up, causing the climate to change.
Oceanic climates: A mild, wet climate, generally without extreme temperatures in summer or winter.

CLASSROOM DISCUSSION

Group Discussion

Ask pupils, working in groups, to discuss the following ideas and to note their key points using a mind map.

  • What do they understand by the term ‘climate change’?
  • How are fossil fuels connected to climate change?
  • How are greenhouse gases connected to climate change?
  • How are food miles linked to climate change?
  • Can they identify any extreme weather which could be associated with climate change?

Ask each group to discuss their mind map with the class. Expand on the ideas already explored in groups by discussing climate change further as a whole class, using the ‘Words of the Day’ section and the following points:

  • Using locally grown / sourced seasonal food uses fewer food miles.
  • Using food with little or no packaging helps to reduce waste.
  • A carrot from South Africa travels 6,000 miles.
  • Walking to the shop for food rather than using the car reduces food miles.

Class Discussion

Discuss the following points about the relationship between dairy and the environment:

  • Due to Ireland’s position on the planet, our cool, temperate, oceanic climate enables our cows to graze outdoors on lush green grass for up to 300 days a year.
  • Due to our mild, wet climate, dairy production in Ireland uses up to 20% less water than most European countries.
  • Due to our grass-based production system, Irish dairy farms have some of the lowest levels of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU. It is estimated that for every 10-day increase in outdoor grazing, there is a 1.7% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.*Source

Discuss the following points about the impact of climate change on farming:

  • During extremely snowy weather, animals need to be kept in shelters during times of the year when they are normally outside.
  • In bad weather, dangerous road conditions affect deliveries and collections of milk.
  • When cows are unable to be outside on the grass, farmers have to provide additional food.
  • Extreme dry weather conditions and lack of rain affects the availability of grass (food) for the animals.
  • Droughts and floods can reduce the size of a farmer’s crop and can even destroy a crop entirely.

*https://www.teagasc.ie/media/website/about/our-organisation/Bord-Bia-Dairy-Carbon-Navigator-LR5.pdf


Activity

Pair Activity

Complete the cloze passage in the ‘Dairy and the Environment’ activity sheet.

Personal Activity

Ask pupils to imagine they are newspaper journalists who have interviewed a farmer impacted by climate change. Ask pupils to write about the interview for a newspaper article.

Extension Activities

  1. Invite a farmer to speak to the class about how climate change has impacted his / her farming. Ask pupils to write about it.
  2. Ask pupils in groups to think of ways that they can reduce their food miles (and carbon dioxide emissions).
  3. Encourage pupils to bring their School Milk cartons or bottles home to recycle.

Bring It Home

Encourage your pupils to take home the message of the impact climate change has on the environment. As a homework activity, you can ask your pupils to:

  1. List locally grown food they have at home.
  2. Make a family contract to reduce food miles.
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