I love this time of year at work. Teachers and Agriculture in the Classroom coordinators are rejuvenated after summer break and excited to return to the classroom. My phone rings more than normal and my email inbox is stuffed. Every day I receive inquiries from people wanting to teach students about agriculture. Some are requests specific, like an email last week from an Ag in the Classroom contact looking for a resources to teach 4th graders about soil. Or a call from a teacher looking for a good biotechnology lesson. But I also frequently get calls from teachers or volunteers who do not know what they want. They may have just heard about Ag in the Classroom and want to begin integrating agriculture into lessons. Together we brainstorm topic ideas that complement their curriculum. My goal is to give them a few great lessons, books or other resources to help them in their quest to teach students about agriculture.
Someone recently asked me where I get ideas for lessons and resources I recommend. Although I can name a lesson and book to match almost any topic, I am always on the search for something new. I have several go-to sites I reference often. Today I’d like to share some of my favorite sources for inspiration, complete lessons, and great books.
agclassroom.org – I visit the National Ag in the Classroom website almost daily! The National Ag Literacy Outcomes is often where I start in designing a lesson or developing ideas for someone who does not know what they want to teach. The agriculture learning standards help me fine-tune a lesson to emphasize what is most important for students in early elementary, upper elementary, middle school, or high school to know about agriculture. The most valuable resource on the site National Ag in the Classroom Site is the Ag Literacy Curriculum Matrix , a searchable collection of lessons. Every lesson on the Matrix is relevant to agriculture, standards aligned, and includes all of the background information and supplemental files needed to teach a lesson. I frequently recommend the state Ag facts page as a great resource for state reports and other research projects. I also really like AgroWorld E-Zine and the ag knowledge quizzes for teachers and students.
- agfoundation.org – The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture (AFBFA) offers a variety of resources to help teach students about agriculture. The recommended publications page includes a searchable database of books, teacher guides and student publications about agriculture. You can search by topic or reading level, read the descriptions, and then follow links to purchase through AFBFA, on Amazon or elsewhere. Their online store is a place to order Ag Mags, books and teacher guides produced or distributed by AFBFA.
myamericanfarm.org – This online game site offers a fun way for elementary students to learn about agriculture, and has great resources for teachers, too! Click on the classroom and family fun links on the homepage for lesson plans, activity sheets and videos that complement the games. Sign up for the e-newsletter at the bottom of the page to stay update with My American Farm resources.
- nutrientsforlife.org – This is my go-to site when for soil or nutrient related resources. Nutrients for life has three levels of standards-aligned curricula, all available for free on the website. The site also has interactive games for elementary and middle school students. This is a great resources for independent learning.
- americasheartland.org – This site includes all episodes of the popular PBS & RFD-TV series that celebrates our nation’s agriculture with stories from across the U.S. and around the world. Each half-hour episode is divided into short stories to make them easier for classroom use. Search by topic to find just what you are looking for, or extend learning by using the study guides and lesson plans.
- iowaagliteracy.org –
Last but certainly not least is our website! It includes an always growing collection of lesson plans to download, as well as books and educational resources to borrow from our lending library. We will soon be adding many more lessons, books, and kits to our collections, so peruse these pages often! If we don’t have what you’re looking for now, we may the next time you visit. Visit the teacher resources page to download digital issues our student magazine, Ag Today, or learn how FarmChat can connect students and farmers. While you are our website take time to sign up for our quarterly newsletter and follow the links on the bottom of the page to follow us on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress and YouTube. We post information about a variety of agriculture topics, highlight great resources, and promote new programs through these forums.
I hope you discover something new while perusing these sites to help in YOUR quest to teach students about agriculture!