Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Farming the Southern Colonies

Thomas Lucey


The student discovers the basis for farming choices in the early colonies using group research and discussion.


The student extends and refines understanding of ways geographical factors have influenced selected groups (for example, Native Americans in the Great Plains).


-Appropriate encyclopedias
-Assessment Checklist
-Trade books for applicable crop growers
-Internet access


It may be helpful to create four learning or resource areas before the class. One area for each crop being studied.

Gather resource materials and bookmark Internet sites if desired. Duplicate checklist to share with students.


nOTE: This exercise is based on an idea presented in the Teacher's Edition of Houghton-Mifflin's 5th grade text BUILD OUR NATION.

1. Inform the students that people left their families behind in Europe for opportunities of a new life in the Americas. In the New World the colonists encountered and tried different types of crops in different areas, depending on the climate and soil. In this lesson, students discover the processes the first settlers experienced when farming and making choices of crops to plant.

2. Count off the class by 4ís and have them separate into groups.

3. Instruct the class to repeat the instructions back aloud after you provide them.

4. Assign each group a cash crop (Rice, Corn, Tobacco, and Indigo) provide them with the appropriate encyclopedia volumes and/or assign them to a computer station.

5. Tell each group to research their assigned crop and write the step by step process for its development.

6. Tell the groups that the process must mention the proper environment/conditions for growth.

7. Tell the groups they must compare 18th century process with the modern process.

8. Suggest to the students that by dividing the areas of research between group members, they may finish more in less time.

9. Have each group present their findings to the class.

10. Initiate a class discussion based on their findings. The following questions provide opportunity for students to broaden their consideration of the topic.

Given the difficulties with developing crops in a uncertain world, why might they think people left Europe for to try farming in the new world?

If the students were developing a cash crop in a specific colony, what would they consider geographically important as resources important to increasing the production?


Instruct the students to write about why geography was important to the settlers' choice of crops and why they might or might not have been successful during that time period.

The composition may be evaluated using the following assessment checklist:

____ Student composition shows research for information.
____ Student composition portrays accurate information about crop.
____ Student composition supports explanation with lesson content discussion.
____Composition includes step by step process for crop development from seed to harvest.
____Composition includes the proper environment/conditions for growth.
____Composition compares 18th century process with the modern process.
____The student indicates understanding of the impact of geographical factors on the historical development of the colonies through the chosen crop.

Web Links

Web supplement for Farming the Southern Colonies
Southern Colonies

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