3rd Grade - Social Studies

LESSON PROBLEM: Culture: How important is rice to the world?


Did you know rice is the staple food for two-thirds of the world's people? People have been farming and eating rice for thousands of years.

Many Asian families eat rice three times a day, everyday. In Burma, the per captia consumption of rice is about 400 pounds...that is on a raw basis, which figures out to about one pound of raw rice a day! Rice is not only a big part of Asian diets, many Asian families farm and sell rice. As you can imagine, rice is a big part of life for many. Rice even has its role in many cultures and celebrations.

The myths of the native people of Northern Burma, tell that their origin comes from people who came up from the center of the Earth with rice grains to plant. The folklore of the island of Bali tells us that rice was a gift from the gods. Chinese mythology tells us that after a horrible flood that destroyed other food crops, people found a few rice seeds to plant in the watery fields. The rice grew beautifully and ended the hunger.

Many cultures base their early history on rice. It has been nourishing us for so long that we cannot say exactly where and when the farming of rice began. It was probably in an area with low hills and small rivers when people first noticed this food grain growing. People who study history believe that rice was first farmed in Thailand or China. In languages of the original people who lived in these areas, we learned that the word for rice, is the same as the word for food. That's how important rice was to them.

Today rice is farmed on every continent except Antarctica. Did you know that rice is grown in the United States? It is farmed in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and California.

One of the wonderful things about rice is that it has no fat, salt or cholesterol. It gives you lots of energy and its good to eat. Rice can be part of a main dish or you can eat it on the side with other food. Puffed rice makes a yummy breakfast cereal or snack. And rice pudding, a favorite everywhere, is good for you too!


On a map of the world, color the places in the world where rice is grown.


Try some fun and delicious rice recipes with your family.

  • crop
  • culture
  • economy
  • myth
  • diet
  • cereal

Click here to play Rice Rampage!
Anatomy of Rice:
Rice is a seed of cereal (grass) plant used for food. Click here to learn more about the Anatomy of Rice.
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