Car board game.

CareerStart lessons: Grade six

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

Learning outcomes

  • Students will conduct research to learn about agricultural products from South America and Europe.
  • Students will explore careers in the field of agriculture and will learn the importance of farming around the world.

Teacher planning

Materials needed

  • Computers with internet access — one for each pair of students
  • Student handouts:
    • Compare / contrast map — two for each student
    • Student reading: “Farming in the Real World”
  • Optional: Paper for note-taking
  • Pencil

Time required for lesson

Two 60-minute class periods

Advance preparation

  • Following the directions below, access the NC WiseOwl website to familiarize yourself with the site before the students use it in class.
  • The students will work in pairs, so you may choose to assign partners before the day of the lesson to save class time.


Day one

  1. Conduct a class discussion about farming and agriculture and why it is important for our everyday survival. Begin by asking the students what they ate for breakfast and where the food came from. Remind students that many food items are grown in South America and Europe as well as in the United States. (10 minutes)
  2. Give each student a copy of the compare/contrast map and explain to them that they will work in pairs to complete the map using information about European and South American agriculture. Concept 1 will be European agriculture and Concept 2 will be South American agriculture. Have students access the NC WiseOwl website and navigate the website according to the following directions: (You may choose to write these on the board.)
    • Click on “Middle School Zone.”
    • Click on “Lands and Peoples in the left sidebar.”
    • Click on “Encyclopedia.
    • Click on “Europe” or “South America” in the left sidebar to find information about the continent. Look for the “Agriculture” or “Economy” subtitle in the reading passage to find the needed facts for the compare/contrast map.

    Have the students read about agriculture in both Europe and South America and complete the compare/contrast map, recording at least five facts for each domain. You could have students take notes on a blank piece of paper as they read, or you may choose to have students copy and paste the relevant sections of the two articles into a Word document to make it easier to read and record information onto the map. (40-55 minutes)

  3. Closing discussion for day one: Have the class come together as a whole and share their findings. As the class shares information, students can add to their maps. Have students turn in their maps at the end of day one. (10 minutes)

Day two

  1. Write the following question on the board: “What is it like to be a crop farmer or rancher?” Review some of the findings from the previous day and explain to the class that they will do further research on how these agricultural careers are in the real world — not just in social studies class. Tell your students they will specifically examine crop farmers and ranchers using a reading passage from the Occupational Outlook Handbook website. (5-7 minutes)
  2. Have students get into their pairs and give each pair a blank copy of the compare/contrast map. Instruct students to write “My view on farming” in the Concept 1 box, and “Real-world farming” in the Concept 2 box. Have them complete the concept 1 box. You may have students complete this individually or with their partners, or you may help them brainstorm as a class, drawing on their background knowledge about farming. Allow the students to suggest and add information to the box without correcting any information that may be false.
  3. Pass out the student reading, “Farming in the Real World,” and tell students the information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. (Interested students can access the site at the U.S. Department of Labor website.) Have students work in pairs, reading the information about farmers and ranchers, highlighting important facts as they go. (Lower-level readers may need some guidance.)
  4. After reading the “Real World Farming” handout, have the students record the facts under Concept 2 on the right side of the map. Lastly, have the students work as a class to complete the middle section of the map, so the similarities and differences are clearly defined for all.
  5. You may choose to go over all the answers as a class. (45 minutes)
  6. Closure: Meet as a class to give each pair of students the opportunity to discuss their findings and share them aloud so that others can finish if help is needed. Also, discuss the other jobs in agriculture mentioned at the bottom. As a final career connection, ask for students to brainstorm other jobs associated with agriculture. You may choose to allow interested students to research these careers for extra credit. (5-7 minutes)


By using the compare/contrast map two days in a row you will be able to assess if the students are mastering comparing and contrasting skills. If students are struggling to complete the map — or if you have students with learning disabilities who might struggle with this kind of graphic organizer — you may choose to conduct the activity using a basic Venn diagram for both days’ activities. You might want to try the map only one day instead of both.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Social Studies (2003)

Grade 6

  • Goal 3: The learner will analyze the impact of interactions between humans and their physical environments in South America and Europe.
    • Objective 3.01: Identify ways in which people of selected areas in South America and Europe have used, altered, and adapted to their environments in order to meet their needs, and evaluate the impact of their actions on the development of cultures and regions.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Social Studies (2010)
      • Grade 7

        • 7.G.1 Understand how geography, demographic trends, and environmental conditions shape modern societies and regions. 7.G.1.1 Explain how environmental conditions and human response to those conditions influence modern societies and regions (e.g. natural barriers,...