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Food for Thought Lesson Plans

Minnesota in the Global Economy: Agricultural Trade Products

Grade Level

Grades 9-12


In this lesson, geography/global studies students will build knowledge about Minnesota's agricultural industry in the context of the global economy.


Two 55-minute class periods
Three or four 55-minute class periods if including extension/enrichment resources/activities

  • 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. Agriculture is connected in some way with almost everything we eat, wear, and use.
  • Biofuel/Energy Crops: Crops grown specifically to provide the raw materials for energy production, including food crops such as corn and sugarcane and nonfood crops such as poplar trees and switchgrass.
  • Cereals/Grains: The edible whole grains from plants, mostly in the grass family (Poaceae). Grain markets include soybeans as grains.
  • Commodity/Commodity Crops: Crops that someone grows or makes in order to sell, not to use it themselves.
  • Consumers: People who buy and use goods. The process of buying and using those goods is "consuming."
  • Crops: Plants that are grown and harvested to feed people and animals or to make other things people need.
  • Dairy Products: Foods/beverages made from milk (examples: butter, ice cream, cheese, yogurt)
  • Emerging Market: A relatively new trade partner that has the potential to buy more of a region's/country's products in the near future.
  • Ethanol/Bioethanol: An alcohol fuel made by fermentation of carbohydrates in sugar or starch-rich crops such as corn or sugarcane, or other biomass sources including grasses.
  • Export: Products made/produced in a country and then bought and consumed outside of that country.
  • 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 producer). Farming is a career; farmers make money by selling their farm products.
  • Globalization: The increasing interconnectivity of people and places around the world due to advancements in communication and transportation technologies.
  • Import: Products brought into a country to be bought and consumed that were made/produced elsewhere.
  • Industry: The businesses, organizations, and people that provide a particular product or service.
  • Livestock: Farm animals (including poultry) raised for food, clothing, and other products or uses.
  • Market: The place all potential buyers and sellers of all goods and services come together to exchange goods and services by bargaining, competing, and agreeing on prices.
  • Organic: Crops that are grown without synthetic chemicals and follow specific soil quality and (where applicable) animal-raising policies.
  • Poultry: Domesticated birds raised for food and fiber (such as turkeys, chickens).
  • Producers: People who grow or develop goods to provide or sell to others. The process of growing or developing is called "producing."
  • Product: A good or service that can be bought and sold (traded).
  • Region: Two or more locations that share at least one (or more) trait(s) in common.
Background—Agricultural Connections* (Should align with NALOs selected for this lesson)

Students will need a working understanding of the term "globalization," and would benefit from being able to describe/analyze the pros and cons of globalization. In this lesson, students will first access prior knowledge about Minnesota's farm products and trade partners through writing and/or discussion prompts. Then, students will work in partners/small groups/teams to play a trivia game with multiple themed rounds; the trivia game is essentially a long-form Anticipation Guide. Through playing the game, students will access prior knowledge to make predictions about fact-based questions related to Minnesota's role in the global economy; students will compare their predictions to questions to the correct answers, provided by the teacher at the end of the game-- this will take the place of direct instruction. After the trivia game, students will make evidence-based predictions about Minnesota's future trade needs and present a rationale for potential trade partners. Enrichment/extension opportunity suggestions are included.

Interest Approach - Engagement*

Display or distribute "Did You Know?" fact sheet to students. You can verbally share these interesting facts about Minnesota agriculture, or some additional ideas include:

  • Could display facts on projector screen as students enter classroom
  • Could create short Kahoot game for students to play at start of class, entering "Did You Know?" facts into Kahoot (
  1. Use Pre-Trivia student writing/discussion questions worksheet. Display or distribute the questions to students.
    Suggestions on use of Pre-Trivia Worksheet:
    • Assign all questions as writing homework before trivia game
    • Have students select 3-5 questions based on interest
    • Station Activity: Select 3-5 questions to post at different stations and students travel around the room and discuss them
    • Jigsaw sets of 3-4 questions between different student groups
    • Give-One-Get-One/Talking Lines - description of this method at
    • Cut questions into individual strips of paper
      • Give one question strip to each student
      • Have students mingle to discuss various questions
    • Gallery Walk:
      • Post questions/question sets around the classroom/hallway on walls
      • Have students walk around and write/discuss responses OR have students walk to question set they are most interested in; discuss; groups share out to whole class
  2. Tell students they are going to work in groups of three to play a trivia game about agriculture in Minnesota. Use Team Shake app (or other method) to group students into teams for trivia game.
  3. Open Trivia Game QUESTIONS Google Slides presentation on teacher laptop; project onto screen:
    1. Google Slides Trivia Game presentation has Academic Goals/Objectives and connections to Minnesota Social Studies, AP Human Geo Course Description, and Common Core ELA Standards embedded in a slide at beginning of presentation
    2. Directions are also embedded in presentation
  4. Distribute Student Trivia Game Answer Sheet worksheet to each student
    1. Each student should complete their own answer sheet, even while working as a team to discuss answers to trivia questions
    2. Students should create school appropriate Team Name
  5. Go through rounds of trivia questions in Google Slides Trivia Game QUESTIONS presentation. Trivia game has seven total rounds of questions:
    1. Visual Round ("Minnesota's Exports")
    2. Themed Rounds #1-5
      1. Round 1: "Minnesota's Farmers"
      2. Round 2: "Minnesota's Farms"
      3. Round 3: "Minnesota's Ag Production Regions"
      4. Round 4: "Minnesota's Emerging Ag Trade Partners"
      5. Round 5: "Minnesota's Ag Exports & Imports"
      6. Sound Round ("Minnesota's Global Ag Trade Partners" embedded midway through game (between Rounds 3 & 4)
  6. Teacher reads questions aloud to students. Students discuss answers in teams; write on answer sheets. It's fun to play the "Jeopardy" theme music in the background while students discuss answers to questions – "Jeopardy" theme song can be found on iTunes/YouTube etc. Give students about one minute to discuss the answer to each question. Give more time for Visual Round & Grand Finale question.
  7. Teacher should open Trivia Game ANSWERS Google Slides presentation.
    1. Student directions on swapping answer sheets & scoring embedded in slide at beginning of Trivia ANSWERS Google Slides presentation
    2. Teacher reads answers aloud to students
  8. Students score another team's master answer sheet; students should not score their own sheet.
    1. Add up total points after each round of questions
    2. Add up total points for whole game; write at top of answer sheet
    3. Return scored answer sheet to owners
    4. Determine winners & prizes
  9. Display or distribute Post-Trivia Questions student worksheet (could also return to & revisit Pre-Trivia Questions worksheet as Post-Trivia activity). Students write and/or discuss post-trivia questions
Did you know? (Ag Facts)
  • Did you know that nearly 90% of the shrimp eaten in the U.S. comes from other countries?
  • Did you know that there is now a farm in Balaton, MN, in Lyon County, that safely raises shrimp? (It is called tru Shrimp).
  • Did you know that Americans eat 75 acres of pizza every day (considering commodities needed in all parts of the production process, such as the pizza box, trees, wheat, cheese, tomatoes, livestock, etc.)?
  • Did you know that "First Kiss" is the name for the newest variety of apple developed at the University of Minnesota in 2018? (If the apple variety is grown anywhere outside of Minnesota, it is called "Rave."
  • Did you know Minnesota is the top producer in the country of turkeys? (Kandiyohi County raises the most.)
  • Did you know that the Mississippi River transports 59% of all grain exported from the United States? (The headwaters of the Mississippi are in Clearwater County, in northern Minnesota.)
  • Did you know that Minnesota raises more sugarbeets than any other state in the U.S.? (Polk County leads Minnesota in sugarbeet production with 2.5 million tons.
  • Did you that that Martin County, MN, has the most hogs of any county? (700,000!)
  • Did you know that Otter Tail County leads the state in bison (buffalo) production?
  • Did you know that Minnesota has an association of Christmas tree growers? (MNCTA)
Enriching Activities
Crash Course Globalization videos
Minnesota Academic Standards
Social Studies - Geography Describe patterns of production and consumption of agricultural commodities that are traded among nations.

AP Human Geography Benchmarks

Topic 5.7, Spatial Organization of Agriculture, PSO-5.C.4
Complex commodity chains link production and consumption of agricultural products.

Topic 5.9 The Global System of Agriculture; PSO-5.E.1-3
Food and other agricultural products are part of a global supply chain. Some countries have become highly dependent on one or more export commodities. The main elements of global food distribution networks are affected by political relationships, infrastructure, and patterns of world trade.

Common Core Connections
Grade 9-12 Literacy in History/Social Studies

Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.

Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.

Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.