National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
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3 - 5
Students will be able to understand the basic geography of a watershed, how water flows through the system, and how people can impact the quality of our water.
- 8 ½ x 11 paper (one sheet for each student)
- 4 different colors of water soluble markers
- Spray bottles of water
watershed: a watershed is the area of land where all of the water that falls in it and drains off of it goes into the same place
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
- Ask students to list several products that farmers produce. If needed, be sure students know that farmers produce food, flowers, fibers such as cotton, and even forestry products to provide lumber. List several items on the board.
- Next, ask students to look at the list they have created and identify what things farmers need to grow these items. Students might recognize land, seed, sunlight, or animals. Use guided questions until they identify water as a necessary element.
- Use a class discussion to help students begin to recognize the importance of water in our lives and the importance of water to agriculture. Without water, farmers could not produce our food, fiber, and other necessities of life.
- Give each student an 8 ½ x 11 sheet of paper and instruct them to crumple the paper into a tight ball. Gently open the paper, but don’t flatten completely. Tell students that this piece of crumpled paper represents a watershed. Use the background information to define the word watershed with students. On their paper watershed, the highest points represent hills and the lowest wrinkles represent valleys.
- Choose one color of water-soluble marker and have all students mark the highest points on their watershed (crinkled paper). Discuss with students the “high points” in your community and also areas of high elevation that students have visited.
- Discuss with students that most bodies of water are in lower elevations. Choose a second color (preferably a shade of blue) and mark the places where different bodies of water might be: creeks, rivers, lakes, etc.
- Have students think of creeks, rivers, and lakes that they have visited and describe the land around these water features.
- With a third color, mark two to three spaces to represent human settlements: housing, factories, shopping centers, office buildings, schools, etc. Discuss with students what impact these areas might have on the bodies of water (Use the water for drinking, sanitation, etc, actions such as lawn irrigation, pollution, etc. can impact the water sources)
- With a fourth color, mark two to three agricultural areas where plants and/or animals could be raised. Discuss with students the needs of these plants and animals (water, food, shelter) and also how the actions of the animals might impact the water.
- Use the spray bottles to lightly spray the finished maps. The spray represents rain (precipitation) falling into the watershed. Discuss students’ observations about how water travels through the system. Some questions to ask:
- What changes did you observe in the maps?
- Where does most of the rain fall?
- What path does the water follow?
- What happens to the human settlement areas – are they in the way of a raging river or crumbling hillside?
- How would the flow of water through a watershed in real life affect our choice of building sites?
- What happens to the agricultural areas – would the water flowing from these areas impact any other areas?
- What actions do you think farmers take in real life to protect the water quality?
- How does your map demonstrate the idea of a watershed?
Research your local watershed district and invite a representative to speak with your students about watershed management.
Contact your local Natural Resource Conservation Service and/or Soil and Water Conservation District to see if there are educational resources available, guest speakers and possibly an EnviroScape demonstration model.
Invite a local farmer to visit your classroom and talk with your students about how he/she uses different conservation methods to protect the water supply.
Suggested Companion Resources
- Water Pollution Demonstration (Activity)
- Weather Harvest Game (Activity)
- Water: Sources, Use, Conservation (Book)
- The Story of Bottled Water video (Multimedia)
- Project WET (Website)
- Science in Your Watershed (Website)
- The USGS Water Science School (Website)
- Water Cycle (UEN Sci-Ber Text for 4th Grade) (Website)
- Water Cycle Animation (Website)
Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
Agriculture and the Environment
- Recognize the natural resources used in agricultural practices to produce food, feed, clothing, landscaping plants, and fuel (e.g., soil, water, air, plants, animals, and minerals) (T1.3-5.e)
Education Content Standards
5-8 Geography Standard 16: The changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution, and importance of resources.
Objective 1People can have different viewpoints regarding the meaning and use of resources.
Objective 2The formation and spatial distribution of types of resources.
Objective 3Humans can manage resources to sustain or prolong their use.
K-4 Geography Standard 16: The changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution, and importance of resources.
Objective 1The characteristics of renewable, nonrenewable, and flow resources.
Objective 2The spatial distribution of types of resources.
Objective 3The sustainable use of resources in daily life.
5-ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
5-ESS3-1Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth's resources and environment.
Common Core Connections
Speaking and Listening: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.