A Day Without Agriculture
Students explore the wide scope of agriculture, identify the variety of agricultural products they use in their daily lives, and discuss the difference between needs and wants. Grades 3-5
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
agriculture: the science, art, or practice of cultivating the soil, producing crops, and raising livestock and in varying degrees the preparation and marketing of the resulting products
aquaculture: the cultivation of aquatic organisms (such as fish or shellfish) especially for food
forestry: the science of caring for or cultivating forests, and the management of growing timber
nursery: an area where plants are grown for transplanting or for sale
Background Agricultural Connections
When you think of agriculture, you probably think of people growing crops or raising cows, pigs, sheep, and chickens on a farm. But agriculture includes much more than that. The people who work in factories building tractors and other farm machinery play an important role in agriculture. People in universities who research new agricultural products and new ways to grow food and fiber are involved in agriculture too. The grocer must buy agricultural products to fill the grocery shelves. The restaurant owner must buy agricultural products to prepare and serve his or her customers. The clothes you wear and the furniture on which you sit were probably made from agricultural products.
You may already know that steak and potatoes are agricultural products, but what about fish? Fish farming, or aquaculture, is also agriculture.
One of the fastest growing areas of agriculture is growing and selling greenhouse and nursery plants. Forestry is another area of agriculture. Tree farmers plant, nurture, and harvest trees. Then they sell the trees to companies that make paper products. The people who work in factories where paper is made and the people who sell it in stores are as much a part of agriculture as the farmer who plants the trees.
Think of all the ways in which agriculture touches your life. When you wake up in the morning, you might be lying on cotton sheets. Your pillow could be filled with down feathers from a goose. The frame of your bed is probably made of wood. These are all agricultural products, and you aren’t even out of bed yet! When you do get out of bed, you may put your feet onto a rug made from the wool of a sheep or a linoleum floor made from soybean oil. The soap you use in the shower might contain cottonseed oil or lanolin, a kind of oil from sheep’s wool. The handle of your hairbrush might be made from the bones and horns of a beef animal, and the bristles might be the bristles, or hair, of a pig. The towel you dry off with and the jeans and T-shirt you put on are made from cotton. Once you get to school you might pick up a crayon made from pig fat.
You’ve already used dozens of agricultural products, and you haven’t even started eating. Just imagine a day without agriculture. Do you think you could survive?
Interest Approach - Engagement
- Ask the students to help you make a list on the board of items they need every day to survive. Guide their answers to include things such as food, clothing, and shelter.
- Once the list has been created, ask the students where these items come from. Transition to Activity 1 as you explain and describe the meaning of the word agriculture.
Activity 1: Agricultural Products
- Discuss the meaning of the word agriculture.
- Share information found in the Background Agricultural Connections section of the lesson.
- Explain to students that they will be playing a list-making game.
- Hand out copies of the A Day Without Agriculture activity sheet. Explain that the students will have eight minutes to list all the agricultural products that touch their lives in a day.
- After they've finished, go around the room asking students to read one item on their list aloud.
- List each item on the white board.
- Ask students who also have that item on their list to cross it off. Explain that the item cannot be used again, and that if a student rereads an item that was previously read, they are out of the competition.
- Ask the last five students who still have items on their lists that have not been mentioned to come up to the front of the room for a championship round.
- The last student with an agricultural product left on their list is the winner.
Activity 2: Wants and Needs
- Read the book Something Good by Robert Munsch aloud to the class.
- Ask the students the following questions:
- What did Tyra's dad buy at the grocery store? (bread, milk, cheese, and spinach)
- Do you think they needed bread, eggs, milk, cheese, and spinach? (Yes, people need healthy food.)
- What did Tyra want to buy? (ice cream, chocolate bars, and ginger ale)
- Do you think they needed ice cream, chocolate bars, and ginger ale? (No, Tyra wanted them, but they didn't need them.)
- Discuss the difference between needs and wants. Explain that needs are things that are necessary for people to live and stay safe. Air, food, water, shelter, clothing, and sometimes medicine are needs. Wants are things that people would like to have, but don't need to survive.
- Pass out the Need and Want Cards. Read through the list of agricultural products from Activity 1. Ask the students to decide whether each item is a need or a want and hold up the appropriate card when an item is read. If students seem confused about any of the items, be sure to stop and discuss why the item is a need or a want.
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation
After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:
- Agriculture includes farms with animals or crops as well as jobs in factories, schools, and grocery stores.
- Agriculture provides our basic necessities of life.
- There is a difference between items that we want and items that we need.
Have students divide the items on their lists into categories (animal products/plant products, things to eat/things to wear). Have them create their own categories.
Have students bring agricultural products from home and pile them all in one area. Then, invite another class or the principal to view the display, and have students explain the importance of agriculture.
Suggested Companion Resources
- From Farm to You Coloring Sheet
- How Many Hats Does a Farmer Wear?
- Clothing and Jewelry
- Farm Crops
- Feast for 10
- From Start to Finish Series
- How Did That Get in My Lunchbox?
- Illustrated Alphabet of Farms
- On the Farm, at the Market
- To Market, To Market
- Where Does Food Come From?
- Who Grew My Soup?
- Food and Farm Facts Junior Booklet
- Jr. Sprout - Communities and Help Wanted
- My Farm Web
- What Is Agriculture?
- Food Doesn't Grow in the Supermarket!
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