Enter Exhibit

Teacher ResourcesHomeMuseum Info
Educational Resources

Lesson Plans
Teacher Resources
Planning Your Field Trip
Field Trip Programs
Educational Resources

PRE-VISIT LESSON 1: What Is a Grain Elevator?

Grade Level: This lesson can be modified easily to work at any grade level (K-12) since the depth of the students’ questions will vary depending on age, experience, interest, and individual ability.

Illinois State Learning Standards that can be covered with this lesson:

  • English – 1C: Comprehend a broad range of reading materials.
  • English – 5A: Locate, organize, and use information from various sources to answer questions.
  • English – 5B: Analyze and evaluate information acquired from various sources.
  • English – 5C: Apply acquired information, concepts, and ideas to communicate in a variety of formats.
  • Science – 11B: Know and apply the concepts, principles, and processes of technological design.
  • Science – 11D: Know and apply concepts that describe force and motion and the principles that explain them.
  • Science – 13B: Know and apply concepts that describe the interaction between science, technology, and society.
  • Social Science – 15A: Understand how different economic systems operate in the exchange, production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.
  • Social Science – 15B: Understand that scarcity necessitates choices by producers.
  • Social Science – 15C: Understand trade as an exchange of goods or services.
  • Social Science – 16A: Apply the skills of historical analysis and interpretation.
  • Social Science – 16C: Understand the development of economic systems.
  • Social Science – 16D: Understand Illinois, United States, and world social history.
  • Social Science – 16E: Understand United States and world environmental history.
  • Social Science – 18E: Understand the roles and interactions of individuals and groups in society.

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will understand the purpose and function of a grain elevator.
  • Students will understand the role of a grain elevator in the corn farming process.
  • Students will understand the history of the grain elevator and how it has changed.
  • Students will understand the impact a grain elevator has on its surrounding community.
  • Students visiting the elevator will have a foundation of general knowledge about grain elevators on which to build as they experience an actual grain elevator.
  • Materials and Supplies:

    Basic Steps:

      1. Begin by having students complete the first two sections (K and W) of the Grain Elevator KWL handout either as individuals, groups, or as a whole class. If students need help coming up with W questions, have them consider when grain elevators were invented, where they are located, how they work, how they are used, what role they played in the community, and how grain elevators have changed over the last 100 years).
      2. Have students research online or in a library (or ask questions during a visit to the JH Hawes Grain Elevator Museum) to find answers to their questions.
      3. Discuss what students learned and incorporate one or more Learning Extensions (below), if desired.
      4. If your class will be visiting the JH Hawes Grain Elevator Museum, have students compile a list of any questions not yet answered to take with them.

    Learning Extensions and Possible Products:

    • Have students create a Web page, PowerPoint or KidPix presentation, or poster showcasing what they learned about grain elevators in their research. (IL State Standards: English – 3A, 3B, 3C in addition to those listed above)
    • Have students deliver an expository written or oral report about the purpose and function of grain elevators. (IL State Standards: English – 3A, 3B, 3C, 4A, 4B in addition to those listed above)
    • Ask students to track the corn markets for a week in the newspapers or online and discuss the factors that affect pricing. (IL State Standards: Math – 6A, 6B, 6C, 6D, 8A, 8B; Science 12E in addition to those listed above)
    • Contact an operating grain elevator near your school and schedule an interview with an elevator operator. Allow students to ask questions they were unable to answer through their research.

    Helpful websites:

    J.H. Hawes Grain Elevator:

    Atlanta, Illinois: History in Atlanta

    The Grain Elevators: Buffalo’s Lost History

    Wheatmania.com: Prairie Skyscrapers

    Geoffrey Simmons’ Grain Elevator Bibliography

    Inglis Grain Elevators National Historic Site

    Additional Pre-Visit Activities:

    • Have students write about (or draw a diagram of) how the grain elevator moves grain from one place to another within the elevator. This can be done as an anticipatory activity (e.g., “Predict how the corn is moved from the truck that brought it into a storage bin”) before any research is done, or it can be done in the process of helping students learn about the elevator.
    • Ask students to interview a relative, neighbor, or other person who has either worked in, visited, or stored grain in (e.g., a farmer) a grain elevator.
    • For younger children, use a toy dump truck and dried corn kernels to demonstrate how gravity causes the grain to fall down and out of the truck when dumped.
    • Have students locate Atlanta, Illinois, on a map and discuss its location and history (the Atlanta, Illinois website listed above will be very helpful for this activity).

    Illinois. Mile After Magnificent Mile.