Farming History

lr0102Online Lesson Plans
For Farming in the 1930s

In this section, you’ll find full lesson plans designed to explore some of the key issues from the Great Depression in a variety of disciplines. All are tied to Nebraska’s educational standards. Each online lesson listed at the left includes a suggested grade level, the standards that are addressed, objectives, a detailed plan with resources and advice, concluding activities, and suggested assessments.

Social Studies.
In this discipline, the major stories of the decade concerned the causes and effects of the Great Depression.

  • Where Do We Go? explores the process of immigration, both moving away from drought striken areas during the Depression and moving to the United States from other parts of the world.
  • What Do You Believe? helps students examine the process of political identification and uses an innovative “foldable” to involve kinesthetic learners.
  • Life Before Electricity helps students imagine a time with no electricity, compare and contrast before and after the REA and debate the implications of electricity on society.
  • Debating the Depression helps students formulate their beliefs about the Depression and learn the importance of knowledge in public discourse.

In this discipline, Nebraska’s 2003 Teacher of the Year explores ways to bring reading and writing alive for students.

  • Memories of School Days asks students to read and listen to the interviews with adults who were students during the Depression and invites them to do their own interviews with older family members. There is even instruction on how to publish a valuable community resource.
  • Migration from Dust combines the stories of the dust bowl migrants with Doris Gate’s book Blue Willow to explore how real life experiences can become literature.
  • Rural Voices Through Photography uses photographs from the Farm Security Administration, poetry, historical fiction and non-fiction to prompt students to produce their own scrapbook of photos and stories.
  • The President’s Song helps students remember all of the Presidents through history and write creatively by adding their own verses.
  • Horsing Around. In the 1930s, most farmers still farmed with horses, and this lesson uses horse stories to have some “serious fun” and expand students’ vocabularies.

Science & Math.
The 1930s saw the birth of many new agricultural technologies that would come to fruition in the 40s and beyond, despite the challenges that the Depression posed.

  • Drought explores the impact of water – and the lack of it – on various soil types and conditions.
  • Food from Plants helps students consider what makes any particular plant edible and what makes a fruit a fruit.
  • Food for Everyone! In this lesson, edible plants are processed into actual food items, like ice cream, bread, pancakes, Kool-Aid and a cake. In the process they gain an understanding of kitchen chemistry.
  • Genetics opened up the miracles of hybrid crops during the 1930s, and this lesson explores the science.
  • Simple Machines are a farmer’s basic tools. No matter how advanced the tractor or implement, they are all based on the lever, the wedge, the screw, the pulley, wheel and axel, and the inclined plane.
  • Interest Rates became household topics of conversation after the stock market crash and bank crisis of the 30s. This lesson gives students an understanding of how interest rates are calculated and applied.
  • No Lights Tonight. Before REA brought electricity to the farm, rural homes were lit by kerosene lamps or battery powered lights. This lesson explores the science of batteries.
  • Radio & Sound were scientific marvels during the 30s that decreased the isolation of rural residents. This lesson explores the science that led to this innovative news and entertainment medium.
  • Garbage, Garbage, Garbage gets recycled on a farm into fertilizers.

This discipline can give visual-spatial learners different ways to access learning.

  • Read More than Words uses the photographs of the Farm Security Administration to explore how we “read” a picture and assign meaning to it. [This lesson is related to the “Rural Voices” lesson under Reading.]
  • Show Me the Money. The Depression made the pursuit of money critical. This lesson explores how money is made and why we assign it value.
  • It’s a Wrap! Flour sacks were used during the Depression to make clothes. This lesson explores how a two-dimensional piece of cloth can become a thre-dimensional sculpture or article of clothing.
  • Contours, Curves & Lines have both historical meaning in the conservation practices that were introduced and in an aesthetic sense in this lesson.

So, choose a subject matter that appeals to your interests from the navigation list at the left, or simply click the Next Arrow below and browse through the lesson plans.

Submit your Lesson Plan

Would you like to be published here? You can also submit your own lesson plans to us for possible inclusion in the Web site. This lesson submission form can be used for lessons on the 1930s and the 1920s section, as well.


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