Sugar Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Jennifer Lowery

Jennifer has taught elementary levels K-3 and has master's degrees in elementary education and curriculum/instruction and educational leadership.

In this lesson, learn where sugar comes from, different forms it can take, and how it is used. Find out how too much sugar can be unhealthy, then test your knowledge with a short quiz.

What Is Sugar?

Cookies, candy, doughnuts--is your mouth watering yet? You probably know and love the sweet, white substance known as sugar, but do you know the science of sugar? Sugar is a carbohydrate, which means it contains the elements of hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen. Sugar is used to make food sweeter, and many of your favorite dessert recipes probably include sugar as one of the main ingredients.

Many people put sugar cubes in their coffee or tea.
cubes of sugar

Where Does Sugar Come From?

Almost every plant contains sugars. However, there are some plants that contain higher levels of sugar. Sugarcane is a plant that looks like a very tall grass and is grown in tropical areas of Asia. Many years ago, sugarcane was grown on plantation-style farms. Another plant from which sugar is extracted, or removed, is the sugar beet. This plant can grow in climates that are cooler, like in Russia and East Germany.

Sugarcane farms are commonly found in Southeast Asia.
field of sugarcane

Different Forms of Sugar

If you look at any food label, you won't always see the word 'sugar' listed in the ingredients. But sugars are still in there! You can find ingredients that are sugars by looking at the word endings. Any term ending in the letters -ose is a sugar. But not all sugars are the same. Some sugars are simple, such as glucose and fructose. Some sugars are called disaccharides, and these include lactose, which is a sugar found in milk.

Sugar can also come in different physical forms. Powdered sugar is very fine, powdery sugar often sprinkled on doughnuts and other desserts. Granulated sugar is sugar that is grainy--it comes in the form of granules. This sugar is not as fine as powdered sugar, and it is commonly known as table sugar. Brown sugar is also granulated, but the sugar granules are blended with molasses to give it a brown color.

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