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National Agriculture in the Classroom

Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix

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Lesson Plans (66)

Agricultural Land Use

Students explore the impact of fertilizer on algae growth, soil erosion, and agricultural soil and water conservation practices. Grades 9-12

Caring for the Land

Students explain why people have different opinions regarding soil management and identify cause and effect relationships relating to agriculture and the environment. Grades 3-5

Color in the Garden

Students use the art of soil painting to explore science and the natural world while learning about the color wheel, the importance of soil to agriculture, and why soils have different colors. Grades 3-5

Dark Days

Students examine the modern and historical importance of soil erosion in Utah and on the Great Plains during the Dust Bowl. Grades 3-5

Digging Into Nutrients

In this lesson, students will gain background knowledge of the nutrient requirements of plants, how those nutrients are obtained by the plant, what farmers must do if the nutrients are not available in soils, and current issues related to agricultural production. Grades 6-8

Earth's Land and Soil Resources

Students discover that topsoil is a nonrenewable resource and use an apple to represent how Earth’s land resources are used. Through critical thinking, students study agricultural land use and consider the sustainability of current land use practices including the use of land to feed and graze livestock animals. Grades 9-12

Exploring Texture in the Garden (Grades 3-5)

Students explore living and nonliving things, determine how nonliving resources help sustain plant life, and experiment with visual arts techniques through an examination of texture in the natural world. Activities in this lesson include collecting and categorizing items from the natural environment, creating seed and soil mosaics, making clay imprints, and coloring cloth with plant materials. Grades 3-5

Exploring Texture in the Garden (Grades K-2)

Students explore living and nonliving things, determine how nonliving resources help sustain plant life, and experiment with visual arts techniques through an examination of texture in the natural world. Activities in this lesson include collecting and categorizing items from the natural environment, creating seed and soil mosaics, making clay imprints, and coloring cloth with plant materials. Grades K-2

Fertilizers and the Environment (Grades 6-8)

In this lesson students will recognize that fertile soil is a limited resource to produce food for a growing population, describe the role fertilizer plays to increase food productivity, distinguish between organic and commercial fertilizers, and recognize how excess nutrients are harmful to the environment. Grades 6-8

Fertilizers and the Environment (Grades 9-12)

Students will recognize that fertile soil is a limited resource, describe the role fertilizer plays in increasing food productivity, distinguish between organic and commercial fertilizers, describe how excess nutrients are harmful to the environment, and identify different sources of nutrient pollution. Grades 9-12

From Boom to Dust

Students will learn how the events of World War I helped spark the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, and the resulting New Deal by watching a video and participating in a round robin, responding in writing to images and sound bites from the Dust Bowl, and observing a wind erosion demonstration. Grades 9-12

From Sap to Syrup

Students recognize how geography and climate allow for the growth of maple trees and the process of making syrup, identify the characteristics of maple trees that produce the best sap for making maple syrup, and name the steps in the process of creating syrup from sap. Grades K-2

Growing Plants in Science and Literature, More Than an Empty Pot (Grades 3-5)

Students use the story of The Empty Pot to explore literature and science, practicing story mapping and examining the needs of plants and the importance of soil and water. Like the characters in the story, students plant and observe the growth of seeds. Grades 3-5

Growing Plants in Science and Literature, More Than an Empty Pot (Grades K-2)

Students use the story of The Empty Pot to explore literature and science, practicing story mapping and examining the needs of plants and the importance of soil and water. Like the characters in the story, students plant and observe the growth of seeds. Grades K-2

Growing Pulses

This lesson introduces agriculture as a managed system that has environmental impacts, and how farmers employ practices such as growing pulses to minimize these impacts. Grades 6-8

Growing a Nation Era 2: From Defeat to Victory

Students will engage with the Growing a Nation timeline to explore the significant historical and agricultural events and inventions from American history during the years 1930-1949. Students will examine the cause and impact of the Dust Bowl, recognize how the Dust Bowl contributed to the Great Depression, and describe the government's response to assist farmers in the 1930s. Grades 9-12

High-Tech Farming (Grades 3-5)

Students discover technologies that are used on farms to increase efficiency and yields and decrease costs and environmental impact. Grades 3-5

High-Tech Farming (Grades 6-8)

Students discover technologies that are used on farms to increase efficiency and yields and decrease costs and environmental impact. Grades 6-8

How Does Your Garden Grow? (Grades 3-5)

Students synthesize what they know about soils, plants, and the environment to plan a garden, present their plans, and explain why they made the decisions that they did. Grades 3-5

In Search of Essential Nutrients (Grades 6-8)

In this lesson students will learn the definition of an essential element, compare and contrast the essential nutrient requirements of plants and humans, explain why plants cannot use elemental nitrogen found in the atmosphere, and identify the sources for each essential nutrient needed by plants. Grades 6-8

In Search of Essential Nutrients (Grades 9-12)

Students explore the meaning of essential elements and use periodic tables to compare the elements that are essential to people and plants. Students discover where in the environment plants obtain each of their essential elements. Grades 9-12

In a Nutshell

Students explore pecan production from farm to fork, simulate the process of grafting, and create a nutritious snack. Grades 3-5

It's a Dirty Job

In this lesson, students will create mini habitats to observe earthworm behavior and learn about the important role that earthworms play in decomposition and plant growth. Grades 6-8

John Deere, That's Who!

Students explore how producers and consumers work together to meet human needs by using the book John Deere, That’s Who!  Grades K-2

Journey 2050 Lesson 2: Plant Health (Grades 6-8)

Students will identify nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus as primary soil nutrients necessary in the production of abundant and healthy foods, describe various methods of replenishing soil nutrients that have been depleted by plant growth, discover how overall plant health impacts a plant’s ability to resist disease and pests and describe what best management practices are in agriculture to improve overall sustainability. Grades 6-8

Companion Resources (108)

Activity
Construct a Compost Bottle
Composting is the process of creating nutrient-rich soil from decomposing organic matter like grass, leaves, and food scraps. Construct a compost bottle using a clear container, bottle, or jar and observe the organic matter break down into soil rich in nutrients that can be used in a garden. Instructions available in English and Spanish.
Make Your Own Worm Bin
Vermicomposting in your classroom is an effective way to engage students with a wide variety of science concepts. This activity will show you how to make your own worm bin out of a recycled styrofoam cooler. Prepare the cooler ahead of time, and then have students add the bedding, worms, and vegetable scraps.     
Nutrients for Life eLessons
Browse a library of elessons related to soil science. These videos are ideal for distance learning.
Seed Ball Garden Activity
Use these instructions from KidsGardening.org to make seed balls as a fun and inexpensive way to sow native plants and flowers! Seed balls are a small collection of seeds, compost/soil, and clay. They are commonly used to revegetate areas burned by wildfires but can also be used on a smaller scale in home gardens and classrooms. 
The Garden Show (Musical Play)
The Garden Show is a 25-minute musical play for grades 1-5 that ties well with science curriculum. Students learn about soil, plants, photosynthesis, pollination, and garden creatures from a wild bunch of characters, including dive-bombing bees, aliens from planet Chlorophyll, and a singing compost pile.
Weather Harvest Game
Farmers work with nature. Soil nutrients, planting, weed and insect control, machinery work, crop records and harvest are things farmers can control and manage. Farmers cannot control the weather. Crops may need to be planted more than once in the spring. Most crops are ready for harvest in late summer and fall but may be wiped out by a single weather event. Play the weather harvest game to see if you will be able to bring in your crop. Order this game online from agclassroomstore.com.
Book
A Gardener's Alphabet
From A-Z, the garden is depicted with spare words and striking graphics. This elementary book reinforce the letters of the alphabet and gardening simultaneously.
A Handful of Dirt
This award-winning children's book teaches that the food you eat, the clothes you wear, and even the home you live in, have their origin in the soil.
A Weed Is a Flower: The Life of George Washington Carver
George Washington Carver often said, "A weed is a flower growing in the wrong place." From humble beginnings, Carver became one of the greatest scientists in the United States. His dedication to helping his people led him to find over three hundred uses for the peanut and over one hundred uses for the sweet potato. A simple biography of the man born a slave, who became a scientist and devoted his entire life to helping the South improve its agriculture.
Agronomy - Grow with It!
Agronomy Grow with It! explores the science of agriculture. Agronomy is the science we use to grow the crops that feed us, feed our livestock, and even fuel our cars. It's a science that tackles the big challenge of our future: How can we grow enough food to end world hunger and, at the same time, adapt to a changing climate and protect our environment? This book introduces you to 20 real agronomists who face that challenge every day.
Alice Waters and the Trip to Delicious
Chef Alice Waters has always been friends with food. The search for good food led Alice Waters to France, and then back to Berkeley, California, where she started Chez Panisse restaurant and the Edible Schoolyard. For Alice, a delicious meal does not start in the kitchen, but in the fields with good soil and caring farmers.
Amazing Plant Powers: How Plants Fly, Fight, Hide, Hunt, & Change the World
How do plants survive when they can't run away from danger? Plants can live in diverse places such as under water, in deserts, cold climates, high elevations or even on other plants. They must contend with storms, fire, poor soils, and hungry animals and insects. Fortunately plants can grow from spores, seeds, or vegetatively and often get a helping hand from people. Plants are cultivated to provide fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, and fibers such as cotton as well as for wood, paper, and many other products. The book concludes by noting a few of the habitats plants help create such as forests, prairies, and marshes as the comical plant characters conclude that they do indeed have amazing powers. Several related activities are listed such as a plant power scavenger hunt, a writing prompt: My Plant Power, and a kitchen scrap garden.
And the Good Brown Earth
Gram and Joe love to spend time together taking care of the vegetable patch, but it takes a lot of patience. There's digging time, planting time, weeding time, watering time, even thinking time. Meanwhile, the seasons change, and while Gram does things her way, Joe does things his way. But come harvest, each will find wondrous surprises, thanks to the benevolence of the good brown earth.
Backyard Detective: Critters Up Close
Welcome to the fascinating world of your own backyard, where more than 125 bugs, worms, and small critters play out the drama of life in miniature. Seven life-size, backyard environments from the soil to the vegetable garden to the air above are vividly depicted in enticingly lush photographic scenes. Scenes are followed by informational spreads which identify all the animals pictured and relate intriguing facts about survival in each environment. The book includes natural science projects, essential safety information, and an inviting 'visual index' for easy reference.
Big Book of Big Tractors
Big Book of Big Tractors is a large, full color book that gets even bigger with it's fold out pages. Students will learn the names of many machines and implements used on the farms that grow and harvest their food. How do machines dig in the soil and plant seeds? What kind of tools make physical labor on a farm easier by lifting heavy objects or performing the work of many people? How do machines harvest grains, hay, cotton, and other agricultural products? How are tractors and large machines used off the farm? These questions and more are answered and can serve as a companion to lessons about machines, harvesting, and engineering (STEM).
Carrots Grow Underground
Part of the How Fruits and Vegetables Grow set, this title highlights the life cycle of a carrot and gives examples of other plant-based foods that grow underground. Designed for early readers, the book includes a list of additional resources and a glossary.
Children of the Dust Bowl: The True Story of the School at Weedpatch Camp
This highly readable portrait is about the Okies driven to California by the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s and the formidable hardships they faced. The desperation of their lives in the Midwest is described and then we follow the Okes on their trek across the western United States to the promise of work in California, where their hopes are dashed. Weedpatch Camp is the farm-labor camp built by the federal government, that educator Leo Hart creates a federal emergency school. The book includes period black and white photographs depicting the hardships and the school.
Compost Stew
From apple cores to zinnia heads, readers will discover the best ingredients for a successful compost pile. How do you start a compost pile? What's safe to include? This book provides the answers. 
Compost by Gosh!
An entertaining children's book designed to inform young readers/listeners about worms, composting, and soil nutrients. It uses Dr. Seuss like poetry and child-like illustrations to explain the process.
Composting: Nature's Recyclers
Dead leaves, food scraps, and grass clippings for lunch? Small animals, fungi, and bacteria called decomposers turn trash into a tasty compost treat. Learn more about compost and how you can use it in your garden or yard.
Diary of a Worm
Written in diary form, students will learn about life from the perspective of a worm.  The book teaches about the role worms play in our soil and uses fun and comical observations of a worm.
Dirt: The Scoop on Soil
This 24-page book discusses the nature of soil as well as it's uses. It is a great resource to teach students about soil, it's many forms, and the life that it supports.
Erosion: How Hugh Bennett Saved America's Soil and Ended the Dust Bowl
When the dust storms of the 1930s threatened to destroy U.S. farming and agriculture, Hugh Bennett knew what to do. For decades, he had studied the soils in every state, creating maps showing soil composition nationwide. He knew what should be grown in each area, and how to manage the land to conserve the soil. He knew what to do for weathering and erosion. To do that, he needed the government's help. But how do you convince politicians that the soil needs help? Hugh Bennett knew what to do. He waited for the wind. This is the exciting story of a soil scientist confronting politicians to encourage them to pass a law to protect the land, the soil. When the U.S. Congress passed a law establishing the Soil Conservation Service, it was the first government agency in the world dedicated to protecting the land, to protecting the Earth.
Farm Crops
This book provides a detailed overview of how farmers grow crops, exploring topics like why soil is important, what a grain crop is, how farmers grow fruits and nuts on trees, and how farmers pick crops. Important vocabulary words are highlighted and defined in a glossary at the end.
Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table
Will Allen is no ordinary farmer. A former basketball star, he's as tall as a truck, and he can hold a cabbage—or a basketball—in one hand. But what is most special about Farmer Will is that he can see what others can't see. When he looked at an abandoned city lot in Milwaukee, he saw a huge table, big enough to feed the whole world. No space? No problem. Poor soil? There's a solution. Need help? Found it. Farmer Will is a genius in solving problems. Jacqueline Briggs Martin tells the inspiring story of an innovator, educator, and community leader.