Lesson Title: The Importance of Farm Owners and Farm Workers Grade Level

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Lesson Title:

The Importance of Farm Owners and Farm Workers

Grade Level:

Grade Two Lesson 4

Unit of Study:

People We Depend On

History-Social Science Standard:

2.4.1 Describe food production and consumption long ago and today, including the roles of farmers, processors, distributors, weather, and land and water resources.

Correlation to K-8 California Adopted Textbooks:

Harcourt Brace: Making a Difference. Unit 2: Where We Live: Lesson 3 and 4. Unit 4: People Make History: Lesson 1. Unit 6: People In Time And Place: Lesson 2

McGraw-Hill: People Together. Unit 3: A Working World: Lessons 1-3
Setting of Context:

Agriculture has been an important part of California's economy. California farmers have always relied on laborers to harvest the crops grown on their farms. More importantly, people like you and me depend on the work that farm owners/growers and the farm workers do to provide us with the food we eat.

Farm owners/growers use their land and money to grow food for us to eat. The farm owners/growers are important because they provide land, seed, and water needed to grow food. The farms that produce most of the food we eat are too large for the grower and the grower’ s family to work alone. Almost all growers need the help of many, many farm workers to plant, take care of, and harvest the crops.

The work that farm workers do is difficult and very physically demanding. After working in the fields all day, the farm workers are tired and their bodies are very sore. Farm workers work in the fields all day, but earn very little money. Their hard work and sacrifice allow us to bring the food we eat to our homes and to our dinner tables, but sometimes they do not have enough to feed their own families. For many years, farm workers were not treated with very much respect or dignity. This is sometimes true even today.

As a young boy, César E. Chávez worked in the fields with his father, mother, brother, and sister. Later in life, he would work in the fields with his wife, Helen, and some of his children too. César and his family worked hard like the other farm workers and often felt that they were treated more like animals or farm tools than like human beings. César thought this was wrong and dedicated his adult life to winning farm workers and their families the respect and dignity they deserved.

Focus Questions:

Who provides the land, money, and seed to grow crops we need?

Who harvests the crops grown on large farms?

Who was César E. Chávez?

Expected Learning Outcomes:

Students will be able to state why farm owners are an important part of the farm economy. Students will be able to state why farm workers are an important part of the farm economy. Students will state why César E. Chávez became interested in improving the lives of farm workers.


Students will write sentences that describe the work that farm workers do and how they help society.

Provide a map showing the crops and the seasons they are harvested. Students will write a first person narrative describing the chronology of harvests that a migrant farm worker follows.

Key Concepts:

respect, dignity

Essential Vocabulary:



crop cycle



Primary Sources:

Pictures of farms in California's Central Valley, pictures of migrant farm workers, pictures of César E. Chávez throughout his lifetime. See the Photo Archive on the CDE Web site.


Pictures of crops grown in California, map of California showing crops grown there and the seasons they are harvested



Remember when we ate the fruit salad? Students should be able to respond. We talked about where the food comes from and how it reaches the point where we consume it. Today we are going to learn about the people who make sure that the food leaves the farm.

Making Connections:

Show a picture of a farm worker. Ask students "Who is this person? Accept all responses. You may get farmer, worker, and so forth. Affirm that the person is a farm worker.

Guided Instruction:


Give students a set of pictures that show farm workers harvesting crops. It should be a collection that illustrates stooping, cutting, bending, carrying heavy bags, and so forth. Ask students to create a list of the actions that they see in the pictures.

They should generate words such as: bending, stooping, walking, carrying, lifting, and so on.

Once they have generated the lists, have a brief class discussion on the intensive labor that is involved in harvesting crops. Continue the discussion by telling students that the fruit they ate yesterday was harvested in the same way that the workers in the pictures are working.

Have students review the photographs again. Ask students to examine the photographs and make a list of things they do not see in the photos. They should say things like buildings, bathrooms, water fountains, rest areas, places to eat, or shade. Lead a discussion with students about what they would do to improve the working conditions of the people in the pictures and compare with current farms meeting new legal requirements.

Practice/Assessment Opportunity:

Have students pretend that they are farm workers. On the ground, use chalk to draw simulated furrows of crops. Have a student complete the action of harvesting a crop. Each student should complete the actions.

Upon returning to the classroom, have a few students tell you what their body felt while they were doing this work. Have students write five sentences about what they saw, felt, and what they think could have done to help the farm workers in their lives.

Integrating Language:

Shared reading


Listening center option

Vocabulary development


Invite a farm worker to speak to the class

Listen to interviews of people who worked with César E. Chávez (click option on CDE Web site)

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