Scrambled States: Ag in Language Arts

📖 Standard

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.4 Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a grade 4 topic or subject area.

⏰ Time

Three to five hours total. We recommend spreading this lesson over 3 to 5 days.

📲 Technology Required

None required. Students may used a computer or mobile device to access the states’ page or to watch a video on the Scrambled States but these resources are also available in print.

📃 Summary

Teachers read The Scrambled States of America book, or have students read book or watch video. Students select a state from National Ag in the Classroom site and take notes on their state, including new vocabulary. Students read a book related to their state – link to a list is provided. Students complete a notes page and then use this page to write an informational essay.

📚 Lesson

Begin with The Scrambled States of America – book, audio book or video

Begin the lesson by reading the book The Scrambled States of America aloud to the class or you may play the audiobook in class along with the book (which I recommend). It’s very likely your public library has the audiobook available for free download. Students learning at home can download the audio book on to a phone or tablet. If you prefer, you can have students watch the video, in class or at home.

Students Select a State and Learn about its Agriculture

National Ag in the Classroom site has an agricultural facts sheet for every state. You can add this link to their assignment in Google classroom (or write it on the chalkboard – )

If your students don’t have access to devices or Internet, you can print out the 51 sheets (including the District of Columbia) here.

Update their Word Journals

As some of the words in the fact sheets may be new to fourth-graders, this is a great opportunity to update their word journals, what some teachers refer to as a “personal dictionary”. If this is your students’ first experience using a word journal, you may wish to give them this Google doc to read or read it together as a class, “Creating your personal dictionary.

Read a Book Related to Agriculture in the State

Time required for this activity will vary depending on your students’ reading speed and choice of books. I recommend allotting 20 minutes per day over 2-3 days. If your school library does not have these available, you may be able to get from your public library. Also, remember, many public libraries have ebooks your students can read on any computer, tablet or phone. If you have not taken advantage of these services, now might be a great time to introduce them,

The Illinois Ag in the Classroom program has produced More Scrambled States of Agriculture a combination of agricultural fact sheets. reading list, agriculture science and art activities. Recognizing that students at a range of reading levels, books included range from Pre-K to grade 5-9 reading level, with reading levels listed next to each book. My favorite quote, from the book, “A Hog Ate My Homework.”

I would like to be a farmer when I grow up, because farming is easy!
They don’t need to go to school, because they just play in the dirt and ride around on ATVs. When it rains, they can just stay inside and play video games. When the sun comes back out, the corn just grows out of the ground by itself. In the fall, someone comes by, cuts it down, and gives the farmer a bunch of money. They use that money to buy candy and video games. The end.

– Willie

Take Notes

Since this is likely your students first experience with research, I recommend the “foldable notes” to help them prepare. All they need to do is fold a piece of paper in half, then fold it again and a third time so now they have eight boxes. You can also have them use a Google slide with 8 boxes but often students like the physical activity of creating their notes.

Next, label each of the 8 boxes.

Crops    Livestock      Farms    Climate

Soil        Interesting    Book      Quote

You can use the foldable notes example here since students almost always ask for an example. I recommend having students go back to the state agricultural fact sheet and the book and take notes after having done the reading. It’s not a bad habit to learn to re-read something for information you may have missed the first time.

Write a State of Agriculture Report

As this is likely to be the first informational essay students have written, I recommend providing students an example and sentence stems as prompts. You can find an example in this Google doc that uses the foldable notes from above to write an essay. The first page of the Google doc gives an outline, with sentence stems. The second page shows a completed informational essay.


Three forms of assessment are included in this assignment.

  • In the personal dictionary or word journal, students are required to include a minimum of five words with definitions for 50 points. Each word, spelled correctly is 2 points and a correct definition is another 8 points. I deduct a point for grammar or spelling errors in the definition, but only one.
  • For the foldable notes assignment, each note is 10 points for a total of 80 points. I do not grade grammar or spelling in the notes because these are for the student, however, I do highlight errors and tell students there will be a deduction if the error is in their essay.
  • The essay is on a 0- 100 scale. I give 5 points each for title and author and 10 points for each of the prompts completed with one or more grammatically correct sentences. If a student does not respond to one of the prompts but instead includes other relevant information, for example, the number of people working in agriculture, that would be acceptable, too.

Related Lesson

It’s recommended that this lesson be followed by Scrambled States: Ag in Math Class.

Visiting Grandma: ELA Lesson 2

📖Grade 5 Standards Addressed

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.1.A Introduce a topic or text clearly, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure in which ideas are logically grouped to support the writer’s purpose.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.5.3 Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.


45 minutes


A device with a web-browser – PC, Mac or Chromebook – or phone or tablet


This is the second in a 10-unit English/ Language Arts unit centered around a visit to their grandmother. Students organize a letter responding to the grandmother. The lesson ends with playing the words sections of Making Camp Premium.

📚Lesson Plan

1. Introduce the Lesson

This Google slides presentation introduces the unit. Students are given a letter to their grandmother read and correct. The link to the letter is in the slides presentation, so you can open the presentation, read it to your students and then assign it on Google classroom. The presentation includes links to sound files to read the slides and letter to students to accommodate individual students. This presentation can be used in the classroom, in a web meeting or done individually by students at home.

1a. Assign reading letter and correcting errors

The letter from you (the grandchild) is linked in the Google slide presentation. You can also find the link here.

The teacher answer key for the grandchild’s letter can be found here

2. Play Making Camp Premium

Finish the lesson by playing any selections from the WORDS section of Making Camp Premium

4 Choices - Numbers Life Random Words
Select WORDS at bottom right

Related lessons

This follows the first lesson in the unit, A Letter from Grandmother.

A Dakota boyhood is the lesson that is recommended to follow in this ELA unit.

ASSESSMENT: Making Camp Premium Teacher Reports

You can view your students’ progress on mastering this standard by viewing your Making Camp Premium Teacher Reports. You can view the Making Camp Premium reports here. 

Division and English/ Language Arts


CCSS Standard:
Find whole-number quotients and remainders with up to four-digit dividends and one-digit divisors, using strategies based on place value, the properties of operations, and/or the relationship between multiplication and division. Illustrate and explain the calculation by using equations, rectangular arrays, and/or area models.

Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.


40-45 minutes

Technology Required

Making Camp Premium plays in any browser, so, of course, on Chromebooks. It can also be downloaded on phones or tablets and played offline by students who have limited Internet access. Schools that are part of the Growing Math project or who have a 7 Generation Games site license have access to the game for students to use at home or school.


This is a fun lesson where students practice division, combined with Ojibwe history and then complete a creative writing assignment.

Lesson Plan

1. Game Play with Making Camp

  1. Open Making Camp. Go to the main choices screen by clicking on the small green icon with boxes at the lower left of the screen.
  2. Click NUMBERS.
  3. Click the box with the numbers to practice division.
Click the numbers box for division practice.
Each correct quotient earns a fridge magnet to decorate the fridge!

Students should play until they earn at least 15 points.

2. Spend the points earned and learn about Ojibwe history

One of the best teachers we know said, “History is more than names and dates. It’s how people lived. It’s the things they used.” When trading for a wigwam, students will watch videos on how to build a wigwam and on trading. They’ll learn that tribes traded with one another for hundreds of years.

3. Short story writing prompt

So how did we get from a refrigerator to a wigwam? You can use this Google slides presentation to tie in Native American history with Sam’s life in the twenty-first century. This presentation can also be added to your Google classroom as an assignment for students. Here is the introduction for Sam and his account:

This is Sam. He’s also Ojibwe but he’s not from a long time ago. He’s 16 years old. He lives on a reservation in the northern United States. You’ve probably heard of it. He doesn’t live in a wigwam. He lives in a white house with a grey roof. That’s the refrigerator in his house. The magnets have been there ever since he was in second grade.

Read the passage about Sam.

4. Writing assignment

Read about Sam and write a story about him. What do you think happened to him in second grade? Why does everyone except for his cousin, Angie, think he’s not smart? Do you think he and Angie can really walk to Maine?


Math problems in Making Camp Premium are scored automatically. You can see how many students attempted and the number correct in the data reports. All Growing Math teachers and all schools with 7 Generation Game licenses receive access to these reports. Writing assignments can be assessed according to the teacher’s own rubric.

State Standards

Minnesota Math Standard – Use strategies and algorithms based on knowledge of place value, equality and properties of operations to divide multi-digit whole numbers by one- or two-digit numbers. Strategies may include mental strategies, partial quotients, the commutative, associative, and distributive properties and repeated subtraction.

Minnesota Math Standard – Divide multi-digit numbers, using efficient and generalizable procedures, based on knowledge of place value, including standard algorithms. Recognize that quotients can be represented in a variety of ways, including a whole number with a remainder, a fraction or mixed number, or a decimal.