AgMag Jr. Teacher Guide
Started in 1985, MAITC is a unique public/private partnership between the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the MAITC Foundation. The program goal is to advance agricultural literacy to all learners, especially K-12 students and educators. MAITC’s mission is “to promote understanding and awareness of the importance of agriculture.”
We are pleased to offer the free AgMag Jr. series. The AgMag Jr. is written and targeted at first grade, although it can be used in kindergarten and second grade as well (for older elementary students, MAITC offers a separate publication called AgMag). However, please note there is NOT different content written for each grade, so using in multiple grades can be repetitive. The magazine is sent early in the school year for beginning readers. Teachers can use it when the reading level of their students matches the reading level of the magazine. We publish two issues each school year, in October and January. Enjoy!
The AgMag Jr. series is made possible due to the generous financial support of AgStar Financial Services, a long-time supporter of the MAITC education program.
Why Ag in the Classroom?
Previously, people were very aware of the role agriculture played in their lives—it meant survival. Nearly everyone—men, women and children—worked the land.
Agriculture still means survival. That will never change. But as time goes on, fewer people have close contact with farming. They’re not aware of their own—and the nation’s—total dependence on agriculture. Think about it:
• Fewer than 2 out of 100 Americans work directly in production agriculture (farming). This small group meets the food and fiber needs of the nation as well as many people abroad.
• Agriculture, along with its related occupations, is the nation’s largest industry. It generates billions of dollars each year; one out of every five jobs depends on it in some way.
Agriculture is constantly changing. But one thing remains the same: agriculture is a vital part of your day! Even as early as the primary grades, it’s important for students to gain an understanding and appreciation for the ways agriculture touches their lives, each and every day. Food doesn’t magically appear in the grocery store or on the kitchen table. It all starts with agriculture.
Minnesota Academic Standards Connection
Identify goods and services that could satisfy a specific need or want.
Demonstrate ways good citizens participate in the civic life of their community; explain why participation is important.
Observe a natural system or its model and identify living and non-living components in that system. For example: A wetland, prairie, farm, garden or aquarium.
Demonstrate an understanding that animals pass through life cycles that include a beginning, development into adults, reproduction and eventually death.
Use counting and comparison skills to create and analyze bar graphs and tally charts.
English Language Arts
Use the illustrations and details in a text to describe key ideas.
ACRE: A way to measure land. An acre is about the size of a football field (43,560 sq. ft.).
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.”
BY-PRODUCTS: A part of a plant or animal used for something other than its main purpose. (Examples: Hogs are mainly raised for meat, but by-products include fats for soaps, leather for pigskin products, hair for brushes, etc. Soybeans are mainly raised for animal and human food, but soy is also found in candles, lotions, ink, paint, fuels and more.) By-products are sometimes called co-products.
CROPS: Plants which are grown and harvested to feed people and animals or to make other things people need.
FARM: Areas of land where plants and animals are grown or raised for food, clothing, and more.
FARMER: A person who lives and works on a farm (also called producers). Farming is a career; farmers make money by selling their farm products.
FARM (Agriculture) PRODUCTS: Animals or plants raised on farms, or products made from them. Raw materials often must be changed (processed) to be of use. Example: Sheep are sheared to produce wool, but a hunk of raw wool has no practical purpose to someone who needs clothes. The wool is cleaned and processed into yarn, fabric, and eventually clothing, which are woolen products people can use.
FIBER: The raw product for fabric such as cotton and wool.
FORESTRY: Growing and managing forests. In the sense of farming, the growing of trees to provide paper and wood products.
LIVESTOCK: Farm animals raised for food, clothing, and other products or uses.
ORCHARD: Land used to grow fruit or nut trees.
POULTRY: “Bird” types of farm animals raised for meat and eggs. Chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese are kinds of poultry.
RENEWABLE RESOURCE: A resource that can be regrown and replenished in a short period of time. Ethanol (from corn) and biodiesel (from soybeans) are examples of renewable fuels. When we need more of these fuels, we grow more crops.
AgMag Jr. Cover—What is Agriculture?
(See Agriculture in the Glossary. The goal of the first three pages of your AgMag Jr. is to define agriculture and guide students to think about how many things in their everyday world are connected to agriculture.)
1. What is agriculture? (Invite students to offer their own definitions. Some may say “farming” or “milking cows.” Agriculture starts on the farm, but includes all the people and places which harvest the farm crops, change them into forms we can use and get them to stores where we can buy them. It is all the businesses and workers who get food, clothing, furniture, landscaping trees, lumber, and more from the farms to our homes, schools, and communities.)
2. Who were the first farmers? (Many years ago, Native Americans lived on the land where we live today. They hunted deer, buffalo, and small animals in the forest. They raised crops (corn, squash, and beans) and harvested nature’s crops (berries, nuts, maple syrup, wild rice). All their food, homes, clothing, weapons, and toys came from the land and water. Many of the foods we eat at Thanksgiving and year around are thanks to Native Americans.)
3. How has the job of the farmer become easier today than it was long ago? (Modern machinery has replaced horse or oxen power and old-fashioned tools. Scientists have developed plants that can grow in many different weather and soil conditions. Animal nutritionists and veterinarians help keep farm animals healthy.)
4. Do you know someone whose job is connected to agriculture? How?
5. Some students may need help connecting items at the bottom of the page back to their plant and animal sources. Discuss as a class, then invite them to use a red crayon or marker to circle items originating as animals, and a blue crayon or marker for items originating as plants.
Plant, Animal, or Both? Answers:
Animals (red): Macaroni and cheese, pizza, mittens, boot
Plants (blue): Toilet paper, strawberries, peas, macaroni and cheese, bread, pizza, apple, blueberries
Tree to notebook; tomato, herb, and wheat to spaghetti; sheep to jacket; chicken to drumstick; potato to French fries; cow to milk
AgMag Jr. Page 2—Agriculture is in your home and school.
Discuss how each of the items on this page is connected to agriculture and invite students to circle the home items and box the school items they have.
1. Agriculture is in your home. What products of agriculture do you think were used to make these home items?
Answers: blue jeans (cotton); newspaper (tree pulp, soy ink); quilt (wool from sheep); soap (may have many different ingredients including soy and other vegetable oils, fats from cattle, scent oils like almond, coconut or mint, honey, beeswax, wheat germ, oatmeal, and lanolin from sheep); chair (wood from trees).
2. Agriculture is in your school. What products of agriculture do you think were used to make the things you use at school?
Answers: pencil, paper in books, paper bags (wood from trees); crayons (soy oil, animal fats); glue (many today are made of nontoxic synthetic polymers, but some have tapioca or proteins from milk); ink in books (soy).
What is your favorite school lunch food? Have students draw their favorite food, then discuss what kinds of agriculture (fruit, vegetable, meat, cheese, wheat) is involved.
Page 3—Agriculture is everywhere in your community
Discuss each of the photos and invite students to tell how each activity connects to agriculture.
(Sports clothing and equipment: hockey sticks from wood and pads from leather, etc. Eating, grocery shopping, animals, and visiting an orchard have obvious agricultural connections. Library books and papers are from trees.)
1. What other things do you like to do at play and in the community? What are the agriculture connections?
2. Did you go to a county or state fair? What signs of agriculture did you see?
3. There are many different kinds of apples. What is your favorite?
4. Like you, what do plants and animals need in order to grow? (Plants need air, water, soil, and sunlight. Animals need all the same things plus their own kinds of food. Foods that animals eat depend on plants, too.)
Practice: Have students practice writing the word “agriculture.”
Page 4—Pizza and Agriculture
1. Farmers make great pizza!
Fun Fact: As a nation, we eat l00 acres (100 football fields) of pizza per day. That’s 350 slices every second! Most Americans prefer pepperoni on their pizza.
2. Pizza Picks: This activity represents an easy logic exercise.
Depending on your children’s experience with similar activities, you may want to vary the directions to match your group. For example:
- Joe does not like pizza with meat or cheese. Put a smiling face under the pizza he likes.
- Ann likes pizza with toppings that begin with the same letter as “pizza.” Put a smiling face under the pizza Ann likes.
- Juan likes pizza with no meat or vegetables. Put a smiling face under Juan’s choice.
Note: As an added activity, some teachers have students put an X under the pizzas each child does not choose.
Answers: Ann likes pepperoni. Juan likes cheese. Joe likes veggie.
Teacher’s Grab Bag
Recipe for Corn Putty
Play with it like clay, and then watch it become liquid again.
• 1 cup cornstarch
• ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon water
• food coloring
Blend mixture with fork. It should flow when the bowl is tipped but feel solid when you touch it. If it’s too thick, add a little water. If it’s too runny, add a little cornstarch.
Where Does It Come From: Answers:
Pig to ham, chicken to eggs, dairy cow to milk, corn to corn flakes, wheat to bread, cotton to blue jeans, tomato to ketchup, beef cattle to steak
Did You Know?
Sheep’s wool is used in the toes of ballet shoes to cushion the toe when standing on it.
Have a ball with agriculture! The hide from one steer can make 20 footballs!
What Happens First: Answers:
In order: Growing, Harvesting, Changing, Selling, Eating
Farm Animal Babies: Answers:
Chick’s mother is hen, Father sheep is ram, Ewes might have 1 to
3 babies. Who am I?: sheep.
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