Lesson Two: History of Agriculture in Wyoming

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Grade Level:

2nd Grade


Students will be introduced to the history of agriculture in
Wyoming and agriculture’s significance for the state.


45-60 minutes


  • Timeline (one copy of the timeline per student)
  • Videos:
    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZrxvfAQbUs (The History of Homestead) (source 1) Video length: 1 minute 22 seconds.
  • “History of Agriculture” teacher read-aloud is found at the end of the lesson
  • Exit ticket (one per student)
  • Possible book resources:
    • The Homestead Act of 1862: A Primary Source History of the Settlement of the American Heartland in the Late 19th Century (Primary Sources in American History)
    • The Homestead Act (True Books: Westward Expansion) by Elaine Landau

Suggested Teacher Preparation:

  • Preview the Homestead Act video
  • Review the “History of Agriculture” read-aloud listed above

History of Agriculture in Wyoming:

The purpose of this lesson is to provide background of the history of agriculture in Wyoming.

These lessons will move students toward the essential question:

How can we be stewards for Wyoming’s agriculture to benefit current and future generations?

Supporting Questions:

How is agriculture unique in Wyoming? How has agriculture changed over time?


Social Studies: SS2.4.1 (explicitly taught)


(use a reference as needed)

  • Acre – a unit of land area (about the size of a football field)
  • Crop – a cultivated plant that is grown for food, fiber, or livestock feed
  • Cultivate – prepare and use of the soil/land for crops
  • Diversity – a range of different things
  • Farmer – a person who cultivates land or crops and may also
    raise livestock
  • Homestead Act – law that allowed people to head west and
    settle in Wyoming by claiming land as private property

Instructional Procedure/Steps:

  1. Ask the students to review the definition of “agriculture” and “stewardship” from the previous lesson with a partner or in small groups. Monitor discussions to ensure students have an appropriate understanding of the definition for “agriculture” and “stewardship”. Have students share out examples of agriculture and stewardship. The teacher provides clarity if needed. Say: “In today’s lesson, we will be learning about the history of agriculture in Wyoming.”
  2. Provide background for agricultural development in Wyoming by showing the short video about the Homestead Act: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZrxvfAQbUs. Before playing the video, tell the students they will watch it in order to answer the question: How did the Homestead Act contribute to people coming to Wyoming? After watching the video, students should understand that people came to Wyoming initially because the land was inexpensive and many wouldn’t have been able to afford land otherwise.
  3. The teacher passes out timeline to students. While the teacher reads the “History of Agriculture” passage, students use the timeline to identify the type of crops grown in Wyoming.
  4. The teacher leads the class in a discussion of how farming in Wyoming has changed through time. Make note of observations either in a class anchor chart or student notebooks. Ask the students:
    • What do they notice?
    • What do they notice about the number of farms (and crops) in the state throughout the timeline?
    • How have the farms changed over time impacted our land?
    • How does the timeline give us evidence of Wyoming farmers practicing stewardship of the land?

    TEACHER NOTE: It is important during this discussion that students understand farming has continued and increased over time due to farmers being stewards of the land. Today’s American farmer feeds about 155 people worldwide. In 1960, that number was 25.8. (source 2)

    5. Using the observations from the timeline, have students share the following sentence stem:

    • I noticed ______________which made me wonder _____________.

    6. Pass out paper for students to respond to the following question as an
    exit ticket: What are some ways farmers are stewards?


  1. University of Wyoming Extension Office. (2013, March 18). The History of Homestead. Retrieved June 22, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZrxvfAQbUs
  2. Center for Food Integrity. (2009). Fun Farm Facts. Retrieved June 22, 2017, from http://www.farmersfeedus.org/fun-farm-facts/
  3. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. (1991) Homestead Act. Retrieved June 22, 2017, from http://www.history.com/topics/homestead-act
  4. State of Wyoming. (2013). Wyoming History. Retrieved June 22, 2017, from http://www.wyo.gov/about-wyoming/wyoming-history
  5. US Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Rhonda Brandt State Statistician