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Why Ag in the Classroom?

Agriculture means survival. Over time, fewer and fewer people have close contact with farming and the total agricultural sector. They’re not aware of their own and society’s total dependence on agriculture. People must be agriculturally literate in order to make responsible decisions affecting this giant lifeline.
Teaching students to be agriculturally literate brings their learning to life. Helping students understand the farm-to-table connection is important in our consumer-driven society. That’s what the student Minnesota AgMag Series is all about.

About Your AgMag

The AgMag is a great supplement to your social studies, science, or language arts curriculum. The AgMag has particular appeal to the study of Minnesota history and geography. You’ll get twothree issues per school year: October, January, and March.

AgMag Theme: From the Land to You!

  • The Cycles of Matter
  • Plants, Animals, and Decomposers.
  • Plants and Animals as Problem Solvers
  • Entrepreneurs in Agriculture

Integration Ideas

Science/Math

  • Discuss the Carbon Cycle graphic and information on pages 2-3, and have students create posters/powerpoints using other examples in the environment.

Social Studies

  • Have students interview someone they know who works in agriculture. Invite someone with a career in agriculture to come speak to the class about how they got involved in agriculture.

English Language Arts

  • Ask students to identify key ideas and details and build their vocabulary through the AgMag’s informational text.
  • Use agriculture as an inspiration for creative writing activities and group discussions. Ideas: Stories with characters who have agriculture careers; predictions for agriculture in 2050 (or future years); letters to children in other countries with descriptions about agriculture here and questions about agriculture there.

Glossary

Some words in your AgMag may be unfamiliar to your students. Many are defined in the articles. There is also a glossary on the AgMag website.

Words you might wish to pre-teach are

AGRICULTURE: Growing plants and raising animals that people use for food, clothing and many other things every day. It’s also harvesting those farm products and getting them to us so we can use them. Agriculture is the industry that grows, harvests, processes, and brings us food, fiber, fish, forests, sod, landscaping materials, and more. It uses soil, water, sun, and air to produce its products. The process starts on farms, orchards, gardens, and ranches with the growing and the harvesting of crops and livestock, then moves to processing plants before finally traveling as finished products to stores, farm markets, lumberyards, greenhouses, and more where consumers buy the products. Agriculture is connected in some way with almost everything we eat, wear, and use.
Quote from an Unknown Source: “Agriculture is not simply farming. It’s the supermarket, the equipment factory, the trucking system, the overseas shipping industry, the scientist’s laboratory, the houses we live in, and much more. It has an effect on the air we breathe, the ground we walk on, the water we drink, and the food we eat.”

ENTREPRENEUR: a person who organizes and operates a business.

MATTER: is another word for the stuff things are made of. Matter is a substance which has a certain mass and takes up a certain volume in space.

METHANE: colorless, odorless gas that occurs abundantly in nature and as a product of certain human activities.

Minnesota Academic Standards Connection

SubjectStandard CodeBenchmark
Science5L.3.1.1.3Create an electronic visualization of the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment.** (P: 2, CC: 4, CI: LS2) Emphasis is on the idea that matter that is not food is changed by plants into matter that is food. Examples of systems through which matter cycles may include organisms, ecosystems, and the Earth. Examples of an electronic visualization may include a computer program, simulation, or animation.
Science5L.4.1.2.1Evaluate the merit of a solution to a problem caused by changes in plant and animal populations as a result of environmental changes.* (P: 7, CC: 4, CI: LS4, ETS1) Emphasis is on evaluating solutions (based on evidence and design criteria and constraints), not developing new solutions. Examples of environmental changes may include land characteristics, water distribution, temperature, food availability, or the presence of other organisms.
English Language Arts5.1.5.3Apply knowledge of text structure to understand and evaluate a wide variety of complex literary and informational texts.
Economics5.2.4.6.1Describe the concept of profit as the motivation for entrepreneurs; calculate profit as the difference between revenue (from selling goods and services) and cost
(payments for resources used).

AgMag Cover: From the Land to You!

Discussion Prompts

  • What do you use in your daily life that comes from the land?
  • What goods can come from this cow on the cover?
  • Make a web chart on your board, with “cow” in the center. Then have students share ideas of what goods/products could come from a cow. Encourage them to think outside the box.

Page 2-3: The Cycles of Matter

Discussion Prompts

  • Why is it important to learn about the carbon cycle, and how matter moves and changes?
  • Have you ever wondered why we can’t eat the same grasses and foods that livestock like cattle do?

The Carbon Cycle

  • Consider projecting the graphic and walking through the different phases of the carbon cycle with your students. Some students will understand it better when hearing it explained while also looking at a visual.
  • This video is an additional resource for helping students understand the carbon cycle.

Now It’s Your Turn!

Consider brainstorming with your class before turning the kids loose on this assignment. Ask for suggestions and ideas for animals/plants they could use to create a visual of the matter cycle. students can work solar or in partners of 2-3 to create the visual. You could even extend this activity by having students create posters/presentations of the carbon cycle with their
animal/plant of choice. Have them present the cycle to other groups in the class.

Page 4: Plants and Animals as Problem Solvers

Pre-reading Questions

  • What is the difference between an annual and perennial?
  • Why would farmers want to protect their soil?

Post-Read Discussion Questions

  • Why was the Kernza grain a good solution for protecting the soil?

Activity Answers

Grapes: perennial
Watermelon: annual
Asparagus: perennial
apple trees: perennial
potatoes: annual
pumpkins: perennial

Page 5: Milk and the Problem Solving Dairy Cow!

Pre Reading Questions

  • What kinds of milk do you drink? Do you know anyone who avoids drinking milk?

Check out this video from Tens Finns Dairy explaining the different proteins.
Tenn Finns Dairy has more information on this subject to explore as well.

Post Reading Discussion Question

  • What are the results of selectively breeding cows for the A2 protein?

Page 6-7: Entrepreneurs in Agriculture

Discussion Questions

What is an entrepreneur?
What good or service do each of the entrepreneurs provide?

Extension Activity

Invite your students to be entrepreneurs. Each of the entrepreneurs we read about were passionate about what they were creating and selling. What product or service do you wish existed? What are you passionate about? How could you turn that into a business that solves a problem like the “The Amazing Chickpea” does, or that provides a great service, like Tuttie Frutties or Ideal Animal Nutrition does?

  • Consider having students work in pairs on this activity if they’d like to collaborate.

Page 8: Word Hunt and Agri-Memes!

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