AgMag 6th Grade Spring Teacher’s Guide

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 three issues per school year: October, January, and March.

AgMag Theme: Caring For The Earth, Everyday!

  • Understanding Minnesota, the Land and Lakes!
  • Erosion
  • Agriculture and Water
  • Rain Fed Agriculture versus Pivot Irrigation
  • Farmers Taking Care of Natural Resources
  • Agriculture Crossword

Integration Ideas


  • Have students identify different rocks and soils in their surroundings (Go for a nature walk, or ask for students to give examples, or bring in some samples.) Discuss what type of weathering or erosion might have occurred to make that rock/soil the way it is today.
  • Use the articles on weathering and erosion as a jumping off point for students to come up with plans for how they can help prevent erosion in their community. Have them work in pairs to come up with a detailed plan that they can then present to the class.

English Language Arts

  • Compare and contrast the use of pivot irrigation versus rain-fed agriculture. Perhaps write an argumentative essay to convince a farmer to use a certain type of irrigation.


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.”


PHYSICAL WEATHERING: This occurs when rocks are broken down into smaller rocks by temperature, water and wind.

CHEMICAL WEATHERING: This occurs when the mineral compounds of the rock react to rain and air, changing the composition of the rock to form a new mineral

EROSION: this occurs when earthen materials are worn away and transported by natural forces such as wind and water.

AQUIFER: large bodies of rock and sediment that hold groundwater

CONFINED AQUIFER: Large bodies found deep underground beneath an impenetrable layer of rock and clay. These aquifers are only accessible through drilling.

IRRIGATE: To supply water to land in order to help crops grow.

Minnesota Academic Standards Connection

SubjectStandard CodeBenchmark
Science6E. an argument, supported by evidence, for how geoscience processes have changed Earth’s surface at varying time and spatial scales. (P: 7, CC: 3, CI: ESS2) Emphasis is on how processes like erosion, deposition, mountain building, and volcanism affect the surface of Earth. Some processes, like mountain building take a long time. Other processes, like landslides, happen quickly. Examples may include how weathering, erosion and glacial activity have shaped the surface of Minnesota.
Science6E. scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.* (P: 6, CC: 2, CI: ESS3, ETS1) Emphasis of the practice is on applying scientific principles about Earth’s natural processes (like how water moves through the ground and air) to designing solutions to problems caused by human activity. Emphasis of the core idea is on how human activity impacts Earth’s environments. Examples of parts of the design process may include assessing the kinds of solutions that are feasible, and designing and evaluating solutions that may reduce those impacts. Examples of human activities that impact the environment may include withdrawing too much water from aquifers, altering stream flow by building dams or levees, increasing runoff caused by impermeable surfaces like parking lots, or adding undesirable materials to the air, water or land.
Science6E. a scientific explanation based on evidence for how the uneven distribution of Earth’s mineral, energy, or groundwater resources is the result of past geological processes. (P: 6, CC: 2, CI: ESS3) Emphasis is on how these resources are limited and typically non-renewable on a human timeframe. Examples of uneven distribution of resources may include petroleum (like in the North Dakota Bakken Shale), metal ores (like iron in the rocks of Minnesota’s Iron Range), or groundwater in the different regions of Minnesota.
Science3L. information from various types of media to support an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.** (P: 8, CC: 4, CI: LS1) Examples of structures may include thorns, stems, roots, colored petals, heart, stomach, lungs, brain, and skin. Examples of media may include electronic sources.
English Language Arts6.5.4.4Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative,and technical meanings.

AgMag Cover – Caring for the Earth, Everyday!

Discussion Prompts

  • What does it mean to care for the earth? What are ways you can care for the earth?
  • What are natural resources?
  • Why is it important to take care of our natural resources?

Page 2-3: Understanding Minnesota, the Land of Lakes

Discussion Prompts

  • How would Minnesota be different if we didn’t have lakes?
  • Have you ever wondered where all these lakes come from?

This video is a great supplement to answering the question “where do the lakes come from?”

Post-Reading Activity

  • Create a T-chart with the words Weathering and Erosion on each side. As a class, discuss the differences between weathering and erosion. Write down the attributes of each on the corresponding side of the T-chart.
  • Have students discuss and identify what soil region they live in.

If you’re focusing on the weathering aspect of this page, this is a great visual explanation of the difference between physical and chemical weathering.

Page 4-5: Agriculture and Water

Discussion Question

  • How do farmers in Minnesota water their crops? What if they live in an area where there isn’t enough rainfall?
  • What is irrigation?

Aquifers in Minnesota

This set of videos are great supplements to help students define what confined and unconfined aquifers are.

As a class, identify where you are on the map. What kind of aquifer occurs in the region in which you live?

Think and Discuss

Have students work alone or in pairs to plan out where they would establish their farm. Make sure they identify the advantages/disadvantages of farming in that particular region.

Rain Fed and Pivot Irrigation

  • Have students discuss in pairs which type of irrigation they would choose to have in the region in which you live.
  • What are the pros and cons of rainfed and pivot irrigation? Create a T-chart on the board and make a list of the advantages and disadvantages of each system.

Page 6-7: Farmers Taking Care of Natural Resources

Discussion Question

  • Why is it especially important for farmers to be concerned about natural resources?

Post-Read Discussion

  • What are some of the ways Little Timber Farms is taking care of their natural resources?
  • What are some of the ways Trost Farm is taking care of their natural resources?

Minimize your impact:

There are many examples students could list, including food, paper, soil, clothing, etc.
Have them work alone, then discuss their list in pairs. Then come together as a class and share their responses.

Page 8: Agriculture Crossword

The words used to solve this crossword are words and topics that have been discussed throughout the magazine.





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