Utilization Strategies

Lesson Plans

Meet the Teachers






By Monaquita Love
Idaho State University Student


TIME ALLOTMENT: Four 45 minute sessions

SUBJECT MATTER: Social Studies and History

Agriculture affects almost every aspect of everyday life. It is an especially important industry in Idaho, where it is the largest industry. Idaho leads the nation in the production of potatoes, growing almost a third of the nation’s supply, and has done so since the 1950’s. In 1999, Idaho also led the nation in two other crops. Aquaculturists in the state grow three-fourths of the nation’s food-size trout. In fact, in 1999, Idaho placed in the top five producers for 12 crops and cheese. Its farmers and ranchers put the state in the top ten in 18 crops, trout, milk, American cheese, sheep and lambs, and honey (IASS, 2000). Agriculture was one of the major influences in the development of the state. The early miners did not intend to stay, but the first farmers and ranchers first fed the miners, then stayed on to develop new markets when the railroads came through. Other developments such as the Homestead Act and the Carey Act, which spurred on a host of irrigation projects in the form of dams and canal companies, attracted those looking to get cheap land and make a new start. The activities in this unit will help students understand how important agriculture is in their own lives and about its importance in the history of Idaho from its beginnings through the present.



  • The students will learn why they should study agriculture and, in particular, why it is important in Idaho.
  • Students will learn about some of Idaho’s most important commodities.
  • hey will learn how this subject fits in with their study of Idaho history by tracing the development of agriculture in Idaho.

They will be able to:

  • List some of the everyday agriculture products they use
  • List the steps a product goes through from the farmer to the consumer
  • List some of the reasons agriculture is so important in Idaho
  • List Idaho’s most important commodities
  • Describe in general terms the development of agriculture
  • Describe some of the problems faced by early farmers and/or ranchers and tell how they were solved
  • Locate on a map several of Idaho’s early towns and cities
  • Enter several dates important to Idaho’s early agriculture on a timeline


From the National Standards for History, grades K-4 www.sscnet.ucla.edu/nchs/standards

Students will:

  • Think chronologically; that is they will distinguish between the past and the present while creating timelines (NSH 1A and 1F; also Topic 2, Standard 3B)
  • Draw on graphical data while establishing the current status of agriculture in Idaho (NSH 2G) I
  • dentify problems and dilemmas in the past, the causes of those problems, identify the solutions of the time and propose alternate solutions for at least one problem. (NSH 5A, 5C, 5D and 5F; also Topic 2, Standard 3D)
  • List and discuss the reasons people first came to Idaho to farm or ranch. (Topic 2, Standard 3B)
  • List some of the significant early people and events in Idaho and how they affected Idaho’s history. (Topic 2, Standard 3D)




Cartan-Hansen, J. (Producer), and Tucker, J. (Director). (1992). Proceeding On ...Visions of Idaho: Agriculture (Tape 11). (Video). Boise: Idaho Public Television.

Brose, M. R. (1970). The boy homesteader: True stories of children in the Boise Valley during the 1890’s. Boise. Author.

Garrison, M. F. (1980). Sagebrush Girl. San Jose: Merlin Press.

Pals, D., Wilson, J., Blattner, J., Stewart, M., Gibson, D., Schermerhorn, R., and Borris, B. (1988). Idaho ag in the classroom curriculum guide (rev. 1992). Meridian, ID: Idaho Ag In the Classroom Association; Moscow, ID: University of Idaho Agricultural Publications.

The Weekend Farmer Co. The Farming Game. Goldendale, WA: author.

Young, V. M. (1990). The Story of Idaho (centennial ed.). Moscow, ID: University of Idaho Press. Young, V. M. and Young, K. A. (1980).

The story of Idaho: Author’s teaching aid booklet. Moscow: University Press of Idaho.


Agriculture In the Classroom: Kid’s Corner - The Ag Quiz, Intermediate http://www.agclassroom.org/kids/que_inter.html

Idaho Map Gallery www.visitid.org/map/mapgallery.htm

Idaho Potato Commission – “Famous Idaho Potatoes.” www.idahopotatoes.com

Idaho Potato Commission – “Home Page”

United States Bureau of Reclamation, DataWeb: Idaho Dams http://dataweb.usbr.gov/html/iddams.html

United States Bureau of Reclamation, WaterShare: Managing Water On the Farm


Obtain a copy (or copies) of the text: The Story of Idaho and Idaho AG in the classroom curriculum guide. Get copies of any other books you want to use. Bookmark the websites listed. Purchase and preview “The Farming Game”. Load plug-ins that are necessary. Other preparations such as making copies are listed at the beginning of each day’s lesson. Arrange for guests. Have a copy of an Idaho Highway map for all students.


Advance preparation: Prepare two large wall charts on poster board or butcher paper, one to match the overhead (Semantic organizer for . . .) and one to match chart (Agriculture In . . .); prepare overheads if necessary (Semantic organizer) & (What steps . . .); one copy for each student of: activity sheets (A & B); charts, (Agriculture in . . .) & (Major steps . . .); handouts, (Is a day . . .?) & (student background); bookmark the web site: www.agclassroom.org/kids/questions.html.

Setting the Stage
The following activities will prepare the students for studying the importance of and development of agriculture in Idaho. Anticipatory set: Write on the board, “The Farmer Feeds the World.”

Step 1: Activate students’ prior knowledge of agriculture. Refer the students to the statement written on the board. Ask what they know about agriculture. Write their responses on a large chart mounted on the wall in the form of a semantic organizer (also known as a concept map or web). Duplicate the original organizer on overhead (Semantic Organizer for...). Then tell them they are going to take a little quiz to find out more about what they know. Have students log on to the Agriculture in the Classroom site to take the online Ag Quiz: www.agclassroom.org/kids/questions.html.

Provide a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking them to take the quiz and check their answers. Ask them how they did. Have them use the information from the quiz to add more to the organizer on the chart. Tell them that in the coming days, they’re going to be able to learn lots of neat things about agriculture in general and specifically about agriculture in Idaho.

Step 2: Establish why the study of agriculture is important. Divide the class into groups. Ask why it’s important to learn about agriculture. Pass out Chart, “Agriculture In Your Life.” Have them work in their groups to brainstorm items to put on the list. Have them be specific (for example: instead of writing “food,” ask them to write specific items such as hamburger, carrots, etc.). Write their ideas on the second large chart (Agriculture In.). Pass out Handout, (Is a Day...?). Let them use the information to add to their own lists and the one on the chart. Have them help add more information to the organizer. Then ask them what life might be like without agriculture.

Step 3: Establish some general knowledge of agriculture, including how products get from the producer to the consumer. Ask the students where their food comes from. Many, if not most, will probably say it comes from the store. Ask how it gets to the store. Pass out Handout (Student Background) and Chart (Major Steps...). Put up overhead (What Steps...?) and make sure they understand the question. Ask them to work in their groups to read through the handout and fill out their own chart using the information from the handout. Have the class provide the answers to fill in the overhead. Pass out activity sheets (Activity Sheet A) and (Activity Sheet B). Again working in groups, have them fill in the answers using the information from Handout (What steps) and Chart (Major steps). Have the groups share their answers. Have them add more information to the organizer.

Step 4: Summarize the day’s learning. Show them how much they have already learned by comparing the original organizer on the overhead and the one on the wall chart, which should reflect their learning during the activities. Remind them to put their handouts in the right place in their Idaho History notebooks and have them hand in Activity Sheets A and B. Evaluation procedures: Look over and check off Activity Sheets A and B using answer key (Activity Sheets A and B). Monitor and evaluate students during group work.


Advance planning: Prepare overheads if necessary, (KWL) & (People in our . . .); one copy for each student of: chart (KWL); handouts (Idaho’s Rank) & (Cash receipts); vocabulary (Agriculture); worksheet (Introduction . . .); obtain a Farming Game set if possible. http://www.farmgame.com (The Weekend Farmer.Co) Make their knowledge more relevant by learning how important agriculture is in Idaho. Anticipatory set: Ask if anyone knows how important agriculture is in Idaho.

Step 1: Reviewing and setting the stage. Pass back Activity Sheets A and B from day one and review what they learned. Tell the students that now they know a little about why agriculture is important to them and about how raw products get to them, they are ready to learn about agriculture in their own state of Idaho.

Step 2: Establishing why agriculture is important to Idaho. Ask them why they think they should learn about agriculture in Idaho. Put up prepared K-W-L chart on overhead. Pass out an individual chart (KWL) to each student. Have them submit ideas for the first two columns. Have them copy the class ideas. Then give them a few minutes to add any of their own. Write the question, “Why is agriculture so important in Idaho?” on the board. Have them get out their notebooks and look again at handout (Student Background). Ask them if they see something on the page that helps answer the question on the board (agriculture is Idaho’s largest industry). Write the answer under the question. Pass out Handout (Idaho’s Rank...). Help students see that Idaho produces a significant percentage of the nation’s total for several commodities. Have them add another answer to the question on the board (something like Idaho is a major contributor to the nation’s agricultural production). Pass out Handout (Cash Receipts). Have them find the total at the bottom of the page. Try to help them understand this number is actually multiplied by 1,000, which puts the number in the billions of dollars. Add this answer to the board (agriculture is a major contributor to the state’s economy). Have them refer back to Activity Sheets A and B. Tell them that when our country started, 3 out of four (or 75 out of 100) people were involved in production. Now only about 2 out of 100 people are in production. However, nationally about 20-25 are involved in all the areas shown on the activity sheet, but in Idaho as many as 40 out of every 100 people are involved in agriculture and related areas. Help them understand what this means in terms of jobs and add this answer to the others on the board (agriculture is a major employer).

Step 3: Establishing a personal connection to agriculture. Ask them if anyone they know works in any of the four areas discussed on the activity sheet. Take a survey of the class and put the results on Overhead (People In Our...).

Step 4: Introduction of other activities connected with the unit. Preview what they will be doing in the rest of the unit. Introduce the farming game. They can play “The Farming Game” during free time. They will be divided into groups using one marker per group. Any one person in the group will be able to take a turn for the group during play. Tell them they will start the game as a class at a later time so they all know how to play the game.

Step 5: Making assignments and summarizing. Pass out Vocabulary Sheet (Trivia and ...). Go over the trivia and assign the vocabulary. Also pass out and assign Worksheet (Introduction to...). Summarize the day’s learning by going back to the K-W-L chart and begin filling in the third column. Give time for completing the vocabulary and worksheet; they hand them in when completed. Have them put all materials away in their notebooks. Evaluation procedures: Grade Vocabulary and Worksheet using answer keys (Vocabulary and Introduction...). Monitor and evaluate each student while doing group work.

Tracing the development of agriculture in Idaho
Advance preparation: One copy of: Study Guide (Visions of . . .); worksheet (Idaho Agriculture); cue up video (Visions of Idaho, #11) past introductory titles and credits to the beginning of the narration (approximately 0:42, showing waving wheat stalks); make sure a TV and VCR are available. Anticipatory Set: Ask if anyone knows how agriculture started in Idaho.

Step 1: Introduction to the development of agriculture in Idaho. Briefly review what was learned the first few days of the unit. Have students to take out their notebooks and find handout (Student Background). Have them look at page two and ask who it says were the first farmers. Ask if the Native Americans were the first farmers in Idaho. If there are any students who say “no,” ask who they think were the first farmers. Tell them you have a video to show them that will answer these questions. Pass out the video study guide (Visions of . . .) and give them a few minutes to look it over. Give them a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking them to fill out the study guide as they watch the video. Ask them to raise their hand each time they think they have found an answer and you will stop when necessary. Also tell them the narrator will be asking several questions, and that you will stop each time she does so they can discuss the question. When they are clear on the directions and start the video . PAUSE as needed for the students to fill out their study guides. The narrator’s questions come at the following places: at approximately 2:49, showing a man on a horse with cattle; 3:39, showing a ditch with a head gate; 4:59, showing railroad builders just after the early grain machinery; 9:56, narrator on boardwalk at silver city; 13:38, narrator in front of large windows in cement ruins.

Step 2: More study on early agriculture in Idaho. After the video is over and the study guides are finished, have students take out their texts, and divide into groups. Pass out worksheet (Idaho Agriculture...). Tell them the text reading and worksheet will help them learn more about how agriculture started in Idaho. Have them read pp. 171-172, then answer the first three questions. Next have them read pg. 135, filling in any information desired from information sheet (Early Agriculture...), then answer the next two questions. Next they should read pp. 136 and 137 and discuss the last five questions with their group. Each student should write down the group’s answers.

Step 3: Concluding the day’s lesson Summarize the day’s lesson, have them put their materials away and hand in their study guides and worksheets when finished. Evaluation procedures: Grade study guides and worksheets. Monitor and evaluate during group work.

Early settlement
Advance preparation: One copy for each student of: Datelists (Early Settlements...) & (Suggested ...Settlement); Map (Outline Map ...); Timeline; Vocabulary (Trivia ...Agriculture); Worksheet (Early ...); official Idaho highway maps ; bookmark the web site (Idaho Map ...) and load and plugins necessary: www.visitid.org/map/mapgallery. Tracing the early settlement of Idaho; some town beginnings were related to agriculture, some were not Anticipatory set: Ask why towns began. (See materials list for all worksheets & handouts)

Step 1: Review and introduction of early settlement. Review the information on the beginnings of agriculture from the previous lesson. Tell them that today they will learn how many of the towns and cities in Idaho started and that some of them were related to the development of agriculture and others were not.

Step 2: Learning how many of Idaho’s towns and cities began. Have the students get out their texts and divide into groups. Pass out worksheet (Early Settlements ...). Have them read pp. 139-141. Have them discuss the first three questions in their groups and write down their answers. Review some of the settlements mentioned in the text on the wall map. Have them read pp. 141-143 and answer the last five questions on their own. Review the settlements. Fill in the information for North Idaho from information sheet (Early agriculture ...) and from pg. 135 in the text. Review settlements. (See materials list for all worksheets & handouts)

Step 3: Locating some of Idaho’s early towns and cities. Pass out map (Outline Map ...) and date list (Early Settlements ...). Assign each group a certain number of places to locate. Have them log on to the Idaho map site: www.visitid.org/map/mapgallery.htm. Give them a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by telling them they can use the maps on the site along with their personal copy of the highway map and the wall map. Model how to use the website. Have each group share their information using the wall map or a highway map. (See materials list for all worksheets & handouts)

Step 4: Summary and review; beginning a timeline For the summary and review, they will begin a timeline for Idaho’s agricultural development. Pass out the timelines and date list (Suggested Dates ...Settlement). Show them how to enter the dates. Pass out vocabulary (Trivia ...Early Agriculture). Go over the trivia. If possible, allow time to finish timelines and vocabulary. Pass in the worksheet, timeline and vocabulary when finished. Have them put materials away. Evaluation procedures: Grade worksheet and vocabulary; look over and check off timeline. Monitor and evaluate during group work. (See materials list for all worksheets & handouts)


Arrange for guest speakers from your area. Arrange for fields trips to: farms, processing plants, museums, etc. Advance preparation: Gather anything the students may need to prepare the displays for sharing (hall display and anything desired for a parent day). The following activities are designed to give the students a chance to review what they have learned and share that knowledge with others in the school and their parents. Anticipatory set: Tell the students about a parent day and a hall display.
Step 1: The next few days will be a review and preparation for sharing their new knowledge. As a class, discuss ideas of what they want to share and how to accomplish it.
Step 2: Begin work on their presentations. Divide the class into groups. Assign aspects of the hall display and arrangements for the parent day to each group.Give the students time to plan and begin their group’s work. Tell them they will also be able to use their language arts and science time the next few days to complete their preparations.
Step 3: Continue preparations. During the next few days, continue work on the displays and the play. The students will make invitations to let their parents know about the parent day. Create the hall display as the various items are completed. Evaluation procedures: Grade anything desired; also monitor for signs of learning during the preparations.


Language Arts:
Journal writing – use prompts related to agriculture. See Pals, et al., Unit 32 for a pattern and instructions for making a booklet in the shape of a barn to write the entries in. Write an essay on the importance of agriculture in everyday life and in Idaho in particular. Write stories about agriculture – see Pal, et al., and Unit 32 for some examples of possible prompts.

Language Arts/Creative Writing:
Write a story about a farm animal. Write a story about a field mouse selling farm products to a house mouse.

Do a research report on a subject such as crop production or the details of growing a particular commodity important in Idaho.

Language Arts/Social Studies:
Have students find out if anyone in their family is or has been involved in farming. Do an interview to find out what it is like and how farming has changed in the lifetime of this person. Record the interview, and then write it. Math: The National Agriculture Statistical Service has a website with several activities for children, including a whole lesson plan on the census of agriculture. Check out NASS Kids, http://www.usda.gov/nass/nasskids/stanbio2.htm

Explore such subjects as plant and animal growth, life cycles, crop production, how soil type and climate affect the need for irrigation, biotechnology or detailed production for various commodities. See Pal, et al., Units 8, 12-16, 20, 21, 24-30 for lesson ideas. Also see the following Web sites: Idaho Potato Commission


American Sugarbeet Growers Association http://members.aol.com/_ht_a/asga/sugar.htm

Barnyard Palace www.agr.state.nc.us/cyber/kidswrld/general/barnyard/Barnyard.htm Each crop commission (both state and national) usually has lots of educational materials for teachers

Social Studies:
Research the history of several of Idaho’s crops: potatoes, wheat, sugar beets, legumes, barley, rape. Create “commodity maps” showing the major growing areas for several commodities

Practice and perform a play about Idaho’s agriculture – see Pals, et al., Unit 1.

Do potato art (using cut potatoes for stamping) Create collages using Idaho beans and grains

Prepare recipes using Idaho commodities

Community Connections:
Arrange a field trip to or a guest speaker from a local processing plant. Other possibilities include: farm implement dealers, fertilizer manufacturers or distributors, agricultural experiment stations and nearby dam sites. Even a trip to the local grocery store armed with their new knowledge about where the food, and other products, originate could be interesting for the students. If your town has a rich agriculturally related background, arrange for a guest speaker familiar with local history and/or arrange a field trip to view historic buildings and/or the local newspaper office to look at historic newspapers. Another possible source for guests is the local county extension office.

For additional lesson plans and ideas relating to this topic and many others try TeacherSource at PBS Online! You will find activities, lesson plans, teacher guides and links to other great educational web sites! Search the database by keyword, grade level or subject area! Mathline and Scienceline are also great resources for teachers seeking teaching tips, lesson plans, assessment methods, professional development, and much more!

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