Lesson Plan: Farming is a Bonanza G5

Written By: Sharon TerfehrFinal_Lesson_Plan_For_Institute.pdf
Grade Level: 5

Time Allotment

Three 45 minute class sessions


Information on Bonanza Farms and farming in 2010 will be presented. This topic would be presented in the spring of a school year so will be encompassing other skills for review.

Subject Matter

Social Studies, Science, Language Arts

Learning Objectives

Students will compare/contrast modern day farming in the valley to farming 100+ years ago using a Venn diagram. They will organize their facts into a short essay.

Media Components - Video/Web


  • Toy farm equipment/train
  • Chart paper
  • Paper with column headings for “Bonanza Farms” and “2010 Farms” (one per student)
  • Highlighter (one per student)
  • Kidspiration™ software using Venn Diagram or Venn Diagram sheets – one per student
  • Each student has a “time traveler” hat that has been used throughout the year
  • Copy Visual 4 from website – 4 copies (one per group)
  • Copy Visual 5 and Drawing 1 from website – one per student

Student Materials
  • ”Time Travel” hats
  • Highlighter (day 2)
  • Bonanza Farm/2010 Farm sheet
  • Venn Diagram if not using computer software
  • Pencil
  • Notebook paper for essay
  • Drawing 1 and Visual 4/5 from website as noted in plan

Teacher Preparation

Introductory Activities

Setting the Stage
  • Play “Bonanza” theme from YouTube as class begins.
  • Have toy tractors, farm equipment, train set out to pique interest.
  1. Ask students what they think the toy equipment/trains have in common in relation to pioneer days and westward movement in our country. List ideas on chart paper.
  2. Ask if anyone recognizes the music. Explain it is the theme song from an old television show about a large ranch. The song is “Bonanza”. Ask for meaning of “bonanza” and speculate what it has to do with toy equipment and ideas on chart paper.
  3. Discuss what the development of a railroad would mean to the settlers in the Great Plains. List ideas on chart paper.
  4. Continue: “Today we are going to go back in time and find about one way the railroad and new immigrants affected our area in the Red River Valley”.

Learning Activities

Day One - First Source
  1. “Put on your “Time Travel” caps! We are going to be time travelers going back to the late 1800’s –early 1900’s in the Great Plains of the United States. The Civil War has ended and our country is focusing on a westward movement. Many people are also immigrating from Europe looking for a better way of life.”
  2. (Distribute columned paper to each student)
  3. “Each of you has a labeled columned paper. We are going to view a variety of sources dating back to the 1800’s. As we go back in time, you are to fill in facts about that time in the appropriate columns. “Listen for facts concerning Bonanza Farming so you will be able to write the info in your columned paper. I will show about 10 seconds of the video and pause it for discussion.”
  4. Show video clip
  5. Stop clip at 10 seconds into video: “What did many view Dakota Territory as?” (desert land)
  6. Tell students that video clip will be continued and paused in about 27 seconds. Continue clip
  7. Stop at 37 sec. into video:
    • “What is a Bonanza Farm?”
    • “According to this clip, what was the reason for their development?”
  8. “We will watch the next 13 seconds and I want you to listen for how many people were needed to work on a bonanza farm.”
  9. Continue Clip through 50 second mark.
    • Ask how many were needed to work on a typical bonanza farm.
  10. Tell students that they will finish viewing the clip(about 75 seconds left) and will review what information was gathered from this clip.
  11. After clip has concluded continue with:
    • “This is what we know about Bonanza Farms so far: They developed to prove that the land was farmable, that it really wasn’t a desert. Hundreds of workers were needed to work on the farm and needed a place to live.”
  12. “Let’s add this information to the “Bonanza Column” of our chart.”
  13. Ask students if the clip is a primary/secondary source of historical information. (Identifying types of sources has been an ongoing skill developed throughout the year.)
Day 1 – Second Source

“Let’s see what else we learn about bonanza farms with this next source.”
  1. Divide class into 4 groups. Each group has copy of the photo. Ask students to examine the photograph for 10 seconds.
  2. Ask for descriptive phrases of photo and record them on chart paper.
  3. Quickly divide the photo in quadrants. Assign each quadrant to a group having them study that section carefully for a few seconds
  4. Continue discussion:
    • Ask: “What details –such as people, objects, activities—do you notice?”
    • “Would you consider this a primary/secondary resource? Why?”
    • “What other information—such as time period, location, season, reason photo was taken—can you gather from the photo?”
    • “What does this photo make you wonder about?”
  5. Compare students’ responses with information given below photo.
  6. Have students add any new Bonanza farm information to their chart.
Day 1 – Third and Fourth Sources

Website: http://www.nps.gov/history/NR/thwhp/wwwlps/lessons/106wheat/106facts2.htm
*Note: either have the website uploaded for students or print a copy for each student
  1. “So far we have viewed a video clip and studied a photograph. Next we are going to read about what else caused the development of Bonanza Farms.
  2. Reading 2: The Bonanza Farms of North Dakota
    • “Read first 2 paragraphs looking for cause of development of Bonanza Farms.” Give students time to read silently or with a partner. Discuss.
  3. “Read 3rd paragraph to find why Red River Valley was ideal for large scale farming.” Give students time to read then discuss.
  4. Students add this information to the chart.
  5. Using Visual Evidence Photo 5: Bagg bonanza Farm, ca. 1930’s. Either have students view visual on computer or distribute a copy to each.
  6. Distribute copy of drawing of Bagg Bonanza Farm. Using Key, each student is to label the structures on the drawing. Labeled drawings can be put on display.
  7. Discuss followup questions for Photo 5 and drawing 1.
  8. Conclude session with reading Mary Woodward’s diary entries found in Reading 2 used above.

  9. Day 2:

    Play “Thank a Farmer” video to begin class.
    1. Begin with: “Today we are returning from our time warp of 100 years ago to present day. Let’s put on our time travel hats backwards so we don’t go back in time.
    2. What do you know about farms today? Let’s make a list of things we do know.” Use chart paper to list.
    3. “Please take out the columned paper we worked on yesterday. We will be adding information to the Farms 2010 column.”
    4. “Today we have a guest speaker to inform us about farming in 2010. Will the information you receive today be from a primary or secondary source? You may add information to your column as our speaker is telling us. If you didn’t get the “whole” idea/fact down, it’s O.K. We’ll be reviewing afterwards and asking questions to clarify anything you may have not understood.”
    5. Let’s welcome _____________, our 2010 farmer!
    6. When speaker concludes presentation, ask for questions to clarify speaker’s information.
    7. Students will complete their charts with information given. Using the highlighters, they are to highlight any facts/ideas that are the same in both columns. These charts are to be ready to use the next day in completing their Venn diagrams.

    Culminating Activity

    Day 3:
    1. Complete Venn Diagram using information gathered. Using Kidspiration™ software, each student will type in information from their Bonanza Farm/2010 Farm sheets. If use prepared Venn Diagrams, students will write information on sheets.
    2. Using this diagram, students will complete a three paragraph essay on comparing/contrasting the farms. “Essay” skills will have been taught earlier in the year, so this essay will be reinforcing/reviewing those skills. The essay will need more time than this class period.
    3. Students make thank you cards for guest speaker from day before including information that particularly interested them.

    Other culminating activity possibilities:
    • Field Trip to Bagg Bonanza Farm followed by a reaction paper/journal entry on experience. Students may dress as pioneers to immerse themselves in historical era while on field trip.

    Cross-Curricular Activity

    Students will make a diorama of a typical bonanza farm and/or a modern day grain farm. Students will share their dioramas with their “prayer pals” (younger students) and teach them about bonanza farms.

    Community Connections

    • A member of the Richland County historical society could be invited to talk to the students about farming history in the area.
    • A present day farmer will speak to the students about farm operations in 2010.
    • A retired farmer could speak to the students about changes in farming over the years.