Author: Jacque Gehrt
School: Kansas State University
Date: December 2005
Unit Topic/Title: Agriculture in Colonial Times and Today
Grade Level: Grade 5
Time Frame: 1-2 week Unit
Fifth Grade Curriculum Standards in Kansas
(All of these standards are addressed in this unit)

Writing: The student writes effectively for a variety of audiences, purposes, and contexts.

  • Benchmark 2: The student writes expository text using the writing process.

Reading: The student reads and comprehends text across the curriculum.

  • Benchmark 4: The student comprehends a variety of texts (narrative, expository, technical, and persuasive).

Social Studies: The student uses a working knowledge and understanding of the spatial organization of Earth's surface and relationships between peoples and places and physical and human environments in order to explain the interactions that occur in Kansas, the United States, and in our world.

  • Benchmark 2: Places and Regions: The student analyzes the human and physical features that give places and regions their distinctive character.

Math: Data - The student uses concepts and procedures of data analysis in a variety of situations.

  • Benchmark 2: Statistics - The student collects, organizes, displays, explains, and interprets numerical (rational numbers) and non-numerical data sets in a variety of situations with a special emphasis on measures of central tendency.

Math: Geometry - The student uses geometric concepts and procedures in a variety of situations.

  • Benchmark 2: Measurement and Estimation - The student estimates, measures, and uses measurement formulas in a variety of situations.
Brain Target #1 - Emotional Climate


  1. Have students experience some of the ups and downs of being a farmer. Have them play Life on the Farm - the board game (click here for picture of game). Divide the class into groups and spend up to one class period playing the game.
  2. Have students complete an internet case study of one of today's farmer and/or a person from colonial time. Suggested website for today's farmer:
  3. Allow students to evaluate their own cognitive learning on a KWL chart.
  4. Offer assistance to students with special needs.

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Brain Target #2 - Physical Environment


  1. Display actual examples of crops.
  2. Display pictures/posters:
    1. Crops
    2. Animals
    3. Farms and farm machinery of the present and of colonial time.
  3. Play country music or music from colonial times.
  4. Arrange desks in groups for cooperative learning activities.

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Brain Target #3 - Learning Design (Big Picture Activity)

Learning Goals: Students will demonstrate the important role agricultural plays in our lives. Students will demonstrate understanding of colonial practices and characteristics, specifically agricultural. Students will demonstrate understanding of some of today's agricultural practices. Students will be able to create various forms of writing demonstrating their knowledge of the colonies and agriculture.


  1. Students pair up and brainstorm why agriculture is important to our society and place ideas on concept map or other advanced organizer.
  2. Students brainstorm as a large group and come up with ideas of different agricultural practices used in colonial time and today.

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Brain Target #4 - Teaching for Mastery (Declarative and Procedural Knowledge)

Learning Goal: Students will acquire knowledge about life and agriculture in the colonial period and today.


  1. Make a T-chart or Venn diagram and compare and contrast agricultural practices of the New England Colonies, Middle Colonies, or Southern Colonies to farmers/ranchers of today.
  2. Using ideas from the T-chart mentioned above, compare and contrast the agricultural practices of the colony chosen above and those of today by writing a paper using six-trait writing.
  3. Determine the amount of wheat a farm can yield if each acre produces a certain amount of wheat. Then research and find the current price of wheat and estimate the amount of money the farmer would get from his crop.
  4. Create a chart or graph showing the yearly production of wheat, corn, and soybeans of one fictional farmer over the course of seven years.
  5. List and categorize crops grown in certain regions where colonial groups settled. Also list major crops grown in regions in Kansas. Students will create and use symbols to represent these crops within their specific regions on maps of the colonies and Kansas.
  6. Kansas has 5 main crops - wheat, corn, soybeans, sunflowers and grain sorghum. Discuss these showing samples of each crop and the seeds to each plant. Briefly list products derived from these crops under the names listed on the board. Types of products:
    1. Wheat products could be flour, strawboard…
    2. Corn products are corn syrup, ethanol, trash bags, disposable forks and spoons, ink, golf tees, livestock feed, corn oil…
    3. Sunflower products are cooking oil, edible seeds…
    4. Soybean products are carpet backing, sprouts, tofu, livestock feed, ink…
    5. Grain sorghum products are livestock feed, molasses…

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Brain Target #5 - Teaching for Application (Extention and Application of Knowledge)

Colonial Agriculture Activity:

  1. Create a brochure that would encourage European farmers or other settlers to the east coast of North America in the late 1600s or early 1700s. Choose a specific region, create a map of the region, and gather facts to attract settlers to the region. Be sure to include what crops they will be farming if they come to your area and the different agricultural practices you use.

Present-Day Agriculture Activities:

  1. Students will be divided into five groups and assigned one of Kansas' five main crops. Groups will research their assigned crop using encyclopedias and the internet and list products derived from these crops. Each group will list these products under the name of their crop on the board.
  2. Groups will then present their findings to the rest of the class and discuss why these crops and products are important to their everyday lives. Each group should create a visual aid or PowerPoint to accompany their presentation. Each member must participate and contribute.
  3. Research different agriculture careers. Pick one you think you would be good at, and write a one to two page paper explaining the career you chose and why you would be good at it.

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Brain Target #6 - Evaluating Learning
  1. Use writing checklist to evaluate colonial compare and contrast papers.
  2. Check maps, charts and graphs for accuracy.
  3. Check brochures for accuracy of map and facts and use rubric to score.
  4. Use rubric to evaluate group crop product presentation.
  5. Have students use rubric to evaluate their peers and themselves on how well they gave their presentation and their amount of participation/input.
  6. Use rubric to evaluate agriculture career research paper.
  7. Provide ongoing self-evaluation by using KWL chart.

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© Jacque Gehrt