Farming History

Learner Resources for the 1930s | Learner Resources for the 1940s

Web Resources

Click here for a list of other web sites with information about agricultural history.

Suggested Activities for the 1920s

The following activities are designed for fourth grade students and assist Nebraska standards for science, mathematics, reading/writing, and social studies.

Farm Machinery

  • With a team of horses, a farmer planted 2-3 acres of corn a day. Students calculate how many days it took a farmer to plant 35 acres of corn. If a fast corn picker could pick 95 bushels of corn per day (10 hours of work), how many bushels was he picking per hour? If a corn picker was paid a nickel per bushel, how much did he make if he picked 95 bushels in one day? How much would he make in 5 days at that rate? (Mathematics)
  • Students discuss the financial and social differences between people living in town and people living on farms? What was the economic impact of changing from horses to tractors on the farm? What did the change from horses to tractors mean to people who worked as blacksmiths, wagon makers, store owners, field hands? Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of neighbors owning one piece of machinery and sharing it. (Social Studies)
  • Listen and watch the audio/video segments about harvesting wheat. Using available resources, look up the words you don’t know. Write a story at least three paragraphs long about threshing day on a 1920s farm using at least three of the vocabulary words. Use a farm family and their neighbors as characters in the story. Students may read their compositions in front of a small group and answer questions from others their stories. (Reading/Writing)

Farm Life

  • Describe why the relationship neighbors was important to 1920s farmers. What did neighbors do to help each other in the spring, summer, winter, and fall? How did social activities differ for people living in the towns and on the farms? Identify the role of money in social activities. What were some of the free social and communities activities that people enjoyed in the 1920s? (Social Studies)
  • Students write a flyer advertising a group of barnstorming airplanes coming to your small town in the 1920s. How could you tell people about this event without television ads? Write a program for an end-of-school-year program and picnic. List the events at the program and what grades will perform a song, play, or special reading. Students can write and perform their own 1920s end-of-school program. (Reading/Writing)
  • Identify the different animals on a 1920s farm. What did the animals eat? How were the animals used by the farm family during each season of the year? Go to a grocery store dairy section and make a list of all the products that come from cows’ milk. Make a list of all the products that come from chickens and pigs. Create a chart for the products that come from each animal; note the price of the product. Which animal produces more products? Which animal’s products cost the most? (Science)
  • Describe how people cut ice in the 1920s and how they used it to preserve food. Calculate how many 1-foot square ice blocks would fit in an ice house that was 8 feet tall, 10 feet wide, and 10 feet deep. Take ice cubes and stack them in a small cooler to understand the idea of layering small squares in a large square. Experiment with fitting other shapes of ice in an icebox. Students describe how a non-electric ice box works. (Mathematics)
  • Using available resources, find poems that were written in the 1920s. Read the poems and try to memorize a few lines. Students discuss the content of the poems and how they portray life in the 1920s. Describe the rhyme of a few poems. Write a poem about something from a 1920s farm and keep the same rhyme pattern as the poem you read. (Reading/Writing)


  • Have Students identify the crops 1920s Nebraska farmers planted. Students select a crop and look up information in available reference materials. Write a report about it — when it was planted, what it looks like, how it was harvested, and how it was used. Students may deliver their reports orally in front of class or in writing. (Reading/Writing)
  • Each student plants a seed in a paper cup filled with soil. Students discuss what materials plants need to grow. Water the plant and put it in sunlight. When the plant sprouts, students describe the function of various plant systems (roots, stem, leaves). Students chart the plant’s growth and the amount of water and sunlight it receives. Move some plants into a closet without sun. Compare the growth of sun-deprived plants to the those receiving adequate light. (Science)


Pests and Weeds

  • What’s a bushel? Students calculate how many pints, quarts, and pecks are in a bushel. Using a bag of popcorn seeds with a known weight, students estimate how many pounds of corn are in a bushel. Students discuss how pests (bugs, mice and rats, and weeds) reduce crop yield. In the 1920s, farmers could harvest 65 bushels per acre of corn in a good year. If a farmer has 30 acres planted to corn, how much can he harvest? If bugs, weeds and pests reduce the yield per acre by 8 bushels per acre, what will the farmer harvest? (Mathematics)
  • First, students make a list of “good” and “bad” bugs they think were found on a 1920s farm. Collect insects in and around the school room and building. Using available resources, students identify these insects and find out what they eat. Did their opinion of what is a “bad” bug change? Identify other pests that destroyed crops in the 1920s. Create a food chain chart showing what eats what, including plants, insects, birds, and other animals. (Science)


Making Money

  • Students describe the different kinds of transportation people used to travel in the 1920s. Students identify how transportation differed for people who lived in town compared to people who lived in the country and how these differences affected the way the two groups interacted with others. What were some of the places farmers traveled to and why? What were some of the transportation problems farm families faced that town residents did not? (Social Studies)
  • Make a list of the products farmers took to town to sell and items farmers need to buy in town. Describe how farmers traded their products for store items. If a farmer took four dozen eggs to the town grocer and sold them for 15 cents per dozen, how much money does the farmer have to trade with? If a farmer purchased $2.25 worth of products at the store and traded three dozen eggs at 20 cents per dozen, what was the farmer’s total bill? Students practice making change for products traded and purchased. (Mathematics)
  • Write a story about traveling in the 1920s—either by car or by horse-drawn buggy. Write a story about people traveling in a vehicle and where they are going. Using all five senses, describe the mode of transportation. What were some of the problems travelers encountered on the roads in the 1920s? Include details about what people saw along the way, in town or in the countryside. (Reading/Writing)



  • Each student plants a seed in a paper cup filled with soil. When the plant sprouts, cut open one of the paper cups. Students analyze the function of the plant’s root system. Students chart how much water each plant receives and experiment with the amount of moisture. Give some plants too much water and others not enough. Describe what happens and why a steady supply of moisture is important to farmers. (Science)
  • Students describe how 1920s farmers watered their crops. Using available resources, students research the climate of Nebraska. Look up charts, graphs, and maps and describe how rainfall varies across the state. Students identify groups of people who were affected when there is not enough rainfall; when there is too much. Research how Native Americans who lived on the Great Plains collected and stored water. Describe how rainfall affected Nebraska’s economy in the 1920s and today. (Social Studies)