National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
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Caring for the Land
3 - 5
Students will explain why people have different opinions regarding soil management and identify cause and effect relationships relating to agriculture and the environment.
- Caring for the Land activity sheets
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
environmental activist: a person who works to protect the natural world through direct, vigorous action that is often focused on controversial issues
contaminate: to make impure by contact or mixture with harmful bacteria, fungi, or dangerous chemicals
crop rotation: the practice of planting different crops in consecutive growing seasons to maintain soil health
decompose: to decay or break down into smaller pieces
environmentalist: a person who works to protect the natural world from pollution and other threats
farmer: a person who works with land, plants, and animals to produce raw materials for food, clothing, shelter, and other products that are used in industry and manufacturing
legume: a family of plants which, with the aid of symbiotic bacteria, convert nitrogen from the air into a form that plants can use; legumes include many valuable food and forage species, including peas, beans, peanuts, clover, and alfalfa
organism: any living thing, plant or animal
pesticide: word used to describe a variety of substances used to control insects (insecticide), plants (herbicide), or animals (rodenticide for mice, etc.)
chemical (inorganic) fertilizers: synthetic materials that are added to the soil to provide nutrients—including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium—necessary to sustain plant growth
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
- Ask students to think about people they know who are farmers or environmentalists. Can farmers be environmentalists?
- Continue discussion on the topic to create interest and gauge students' prior knowledge using the following questions:
- Why would farmers be motivated to protect natural resources like soil and water?
- What motivates environmentalists to protect natural resources?
- What are some methods farmers use to protect soil and water quality?
- Begin the lesson by asking students to describe and define in their own terms the words: farmer, environmentalist, and environmental activist.
- Ask students if they have heard any news reports about conflicts between farmers and environmental activists (endangered species preservation, invasive species management, public land use, wetland preservation, etc.).
- Draw a Venn diagram on the whiteboard (see the example below), and ask students to list things about which farmers and environmental activists disagree and the things they have in common. For example, both care about the land, both need food to eat. Note: You may have to make very large circles.
- Share the background material and discuss problem/solution and cause/effect relationships.
- Divide your class into three groups, and hand out copies of one of the Caring for the Land activity sheets to each group.
- Ask students to read the situation described in the text carefully to identify the cause and effect, the problem and solution, and any alternatives and their effects. Ask each group to share what they discussed with the class.
- Discuss the following questions:
- Why do we need farmers? (food, clothes, shelter, other manufactured goods)
- Who should decide how to use the land?
- How should we decide how to use the land?
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation
After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:
- The land is the livelihood of farmers, and most farmers try to avoid practices that harm their way of life.
- People have differing opinions about environmental issues.
- Farms provide food, shelter, clothing, and other manufactured goods.
We welcome your feedback! Please take a minute to tell us how to make this lesson better or to give us a few gold stars!
Read Issue 3 of Ag Today titled Our Invaluable Natural Resources. This reader can be printed or accessed digitally. It helps students understand how plants and animals raised on farms depend on natural resources to live, such as the sun, soil, water, and air to grow. Learn methods farmers use to protect and preserve these natural resources while still providing the food, fiber, and fuel we need to live.
Suggested Companion Resources
- Children of the Dust Bowl: The True Story of the School at Weedpatch Camp (Book)
- Dirt: The Scoop on Soil (Book)
- Rocks and Soil (Book)
- Soil! Get the Inside Scoop (Book)
- Survival in the Storm (Book)
- The Journal of C.J. Jackson, a Dust Bowl Migrant (Book)
- This Land Is Your Land (Book)
- You Wouldn't Want to Live Without Dirt! (Book)
- Planet Zorcon (Kit)
- America's Heartland: A Sea of Grass (Multimedia)
- Apple as Planet Earth video (Multimedia)
- Black Blizzard (Multimedia)
- Dirt: Secrets in the Soil (DVD) (Multimedia)
- Dust Bowl: CBS 1955 Documentary (Multimedia)
- FDR's Fireside Chat: Dust Bowl (Multimedia)
- Hugh Hammond Bennett: The Story of America's Private Lands Conservation video (Multimedia)
- Soil Science Videos (Multimedia)
- Third-Grader Explains Nature's Role in Providing Clean Water (Multimedia)
- Ag Today (Booklets & Readers)
- Caretakers All (Teacher Reference)
- Rocks and Soils (UEN Sci-ber Text for 4th Grade) (Website)
- Soil Center (Website)
- Soil Health Education Resources (Website)
Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
Plants and Animals for Food, Fiber & Energy
- Understand the concept of land stewardship and identify ways farmers care for land, plants, and animals (T2.3-5.e)
Agriculture and the Environment
- Identify land and water conservation methods used in farming systems (wind barriers, conservation tillage, laser leveling, GPS planting, etc.) (T1.3-5.c)
Education Content Standards
Health Standard 8: Demonstrate the ability to advocate for personal, family, and community health.
8.5.1Express opinions and give accurate information about health issues.
NCSS 10: Civic Ideals and Practices
Objective 2Concepts and ideals such as: individual dignity, fairness, the common good, rule of law, civic life, rights, and responsibilities.
NCSS 3: People, Places, and Environments
Objective 3Physical and human characteristics of the school, community, state, and region, and the interactions of people in these places with the environment.
3-LS4: Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
3-LS4-4Make a claim about the merit of a solution to a problem caused when the environment changes and the types of plants and animals that live there may change.
Common Core Connections
Reading: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.8Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.
Language: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.6Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.