Grade Level: Kindergarten, Lesson 4 Unit of Study

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Lesson Title:

César E. Chávez Marching for Change

Grade Level:

Kindergarten, Lesson 4

Unit of Study:

Reaching Out to Times Past

History Social Science Standard:

K.1.2 Learn examples of honesty, courage, determination, individual responsibility, and patriotism in American and world history from stories and folklore.

K.6 Students understand that history relates to events, people, and places of other times.
K.6.3 Understand how people lived in earlier times and how their lives would be different today (e.g., water from a well, growing food, making clothes, having fun, forming organizations, living by rules and laws).
Correlation to K-8 California Adopted Textbooks:

Harcourt Brace: My World and Me. Unit 3: I know Who Takes Care of Me. Lesson Introduction: Lesson 6. Unit 4: I Know Where I Am. Lessons 3 and 6. Unit 5: I know About Changes. Lesson 5.

McGraw-Hill: Here I Am. Unit 1: Starting School. Unit 2: Meeting Families. Unit 4: Let’s Explore.
Setting the Context:

Through his nonviolent work, César E. Chávez was able to create change to better the lives of farm workers. He believed that justice was possible if people were informed of the truth. César started a farm workers union and brought public awareness and attention to the struggle of farm workers. He successfully led peaceful marches to demand laws to protect farm workers and to protest against unfair treatment of workers. Chávez also led strikes and boycotts. His nonviolent methods captured nationwide attention. His life’s work improved wages and living conditions for farm workers and bettered the lives of people throughout the United States.

Focus Question:

What did César E. Chávez do to better the lives of farm workers?

Expected Learning Outcomes:

Students will be able to explain how César E. Chávez helped farm workers?

Students will be able to explain how the life of a farm worker changed as a result of Chávez’s work.

Students will be able to show how nonviolent action can lead to a peaceful resolution


Students will cut out pictures and make a poster to explain how the life of a farm worker changed as a result of Chávez’s work.

Students will role-play ending a schoolyard incident using nonviolent methods.
Key Concepts:


cooperation/working together, learning, working
Essential Vocabulary:


Primary Sources:






Show students a picture of a farm worker using the short-handled hoe (click for picture). Ask students to imagine what it would be like to work in that position all day long. Explain to students that the short-handled hoe was one of the unfair conditions that César E. Chávez wanted to change forever. He worked hard. A law was finally made that said the short-handled hoe was no longer to be used. This is one example of how Chávez helped to create change and improve working conditions for farm workers.

Have students simulate farm worker movements in class by bending over, walking, and trying to pick something up off of the classroom floor for just a few minutes. Have students move through the isles from one end of the room to another. After the short simulation, have students explain how they felt.
Making Connections:

Remind students about Martin Luther King, Jr., another American hero who helped change the laws to make life better for African Americans and other people. The holiday in January is to honor this man. He, like César E. Chávez, believed in the power of nonviolence. We honor the life and work of César E. Chávez in March.

Vocabulary Activities:

Have students role-play nonviolent responses to problems by discussing conflicts that may occur during the day of a child. Use examples like the following scenarios to discuss the possible responses. Then role-play a nonviolent response.

  1. A classmate grabs a ball away from you at recess.

  2. Your brother turns the television off when you are watching it.

  3. Someone breaks your pencil on purpose.

Discuss the term nonviolent. Ask students to share what they think it means. Remind students that using nonviolence to solve problems means that nobody gets hurt. César E. Chávez knew that farm workers were treated unfairly. He fought back in nonviolent ways. Through peaceful protests, he was able to change unfair treatment for farm workers.

Guided Instruction:

Visit the K-2 Biography (click for biography) and discuss how César helped to make the world a better place by organizing and working to create laws to protect farm workers and to improve their lives. He brought attention to the farm workers’ problems by organizing peaceful marches, strikes, and boycotts. Discuss these concepts as necessary to facilitate comprehension. He also fasted (did not eat) to bring attention to the use of harmful pesticides. As a result, laws were created to make certain pesticides illegal. This helped protect farm worker’s health. César E. Chávez knew the power of nonviolence. His nonviolent ways helped to bring dignity and respect to people everywhere.

Change occurs in society through many different efforts and strategies. When solutions to problems upset people who are powerful, change is very difficult and easy ways of making change do not work. César wanted to make changes in society that challenged people who were powerful. Simple solutions did not work, so César had to think of new ways to bring about change. Explain to students that many other solutions are usually tried before people march, strike, boycott, or fast. Because each of these solutions is very costly in time and money and can lead to much personal sacrifice, they are usually some of the last ways people use to gain public attention and a possible solution. César did not hesitate to march, strike, boycott, or fast to bring about change when easy solutions did not work. César experienced many personal sacrifices to bring dignity and respect to people.
Ask students, why would people want to march, strike, boycott, or fast? What other ways could César have used to bring about change? Explain to students that many people would use violence to make change, but César’s methods were nonviolent.
Ask students what they do to make change occur in their homes and at school? How do they get people to pay attention to what they would like to change?
Have students make a list of things they think César Chávez tried before he organized marches, strikes, boycotts, or his fasts in an effort to make change.
Peaceful marches: Ask students to think of a situation where a peaceful march might bring attention to a problem. Ask students what they think they might have to do to organize a march. (Ideas could include getting permission, having a leader and guides, making signs, having someone act as a spokesperson to talk to the news and the public, and having information available to hand out to people.) Ask students what they would do if people did not like that they were marching.
Show a picture of peaceful marchers and have students try to identify why they were marching.
Integrating Language:



Shared reading


Ask students to draw a picture of farm workers before the work of César E. Chávez and a picture of farm workers after the work of César E. Chávez. Have them dictate or write a sentence for each picture.

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