Lesson Title: Travels of the Migrant Farm Worker Grade Level

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Lesson Title:

Travels of the Migrant Farm Worker

Grade Level:

2nd Lesson 2

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 & 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.


A map of California (see appendix)

A list of crops and the seasons they are harvested in California

Focus Questions:

Why are these workers called migrant workers?

Why do farm workers move so often?

Expected Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to explain the crop cycle in California.

Students will be able to explain why farm workers are migrant workers.
Students will be able to identify the top cash crops in California, their harvest season, and region grown.


Have students create a chart and list identifying the top seven agricultural crops grown in California, the season during which they are harvested, and a key region in California where the crops are grown. They should also be able to create their own map of California illustrating where different crops grow.

Setting the Context:

Many farm workers are called migrant workers because they move from farm to farm as the crops need to be harvested. Moving from one place to another is a difficult thing for a family. Many times children attend more than five different schools in one year because their parents must follow the crops.

César Chávez and his family also moved many times, traveling throughout California during the harvest season. César attended over 36 different schools.

Key Concepts:


Essential Vocabulary:

Cash crops


Farm worker

Primary Sources:



pictures, photographs, artwork, map



Show students the pictures of the farm workers. Tell them they are going to learn about where many of these farm workers work. Show students a map of California. Highlight the Central Valley. Explain that César Chávez worked much of his life in the Central Valley because that is where many of California’s crops are grown.

Making Connections:

Ask students to think about all of the different fruits and vegetables they see when they go to the market. Do they know where the foods come from? Do they know how they get from the fields to the market? Do they know why only certain fruits and vegetables are in the market during certain times during the year?

Show the students 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.

Discuss that the land in this area is very fertile and conducive to farming. Show pictures of farms. Show the students picture cards of the crops that are grown on California farms. As you introduce the crop, place it on a blank map of California in the location where it is grown. Follow this same procedure with all of the crop cards. Review with students the different crops that are grown in California.

Some farms grow many different crops. Not all of the crops are harvested at the same time. Each crop has a season for planting and harvesting. When it is harvest time, the farmers need lots of help bringing in the crop. The large farms hire workers to harvest the crop. Once a crop is harvested, the farmer doesn't need the workers and they no longer have a job. Because they have families to feed, they must look for other work. They move on to other farms where crops need harvesting. Since they move from one place to another, they are called migrant workers. The life of a migrant worker is very hard because they must keep moving.

Read a story similar to Amelia's Road by Linda Jacobs Altman. Ask the students to listen to the story about the little girl and her family. Begin with the author's note at the back of the book and then read the story.

Guided Practice

Have students do a quick write: How would you feel if you were in Amelia's shoes? Why is her family called "migrant workers"? If another story is used, have the students write about how that child felt.

Give each student an outline map of California. Locate the general region where the students live. Locate the Central Valley and have students draw an oval for a region representing the Central Valley.

Teach the students what crops are actually grown in California and when they are grown. Use the worksheet Top Agricultural Crops in California, Seasons and Regions to complete the exercise.

Integrating Language:

Shared reading student appropriate literature


Vocabulary development


Interview another student who has moved homes more than once. Ask students to find out what the other student felt like. Have them find out what they liked about moving and what they did not like about moving. Ask them what it felt like to enter a new school, especially if they moved during the school year after school had already started.

Service Learning

Have students find out if the school has any special programs for new students entering the school after school has already been started. If not, have students develop a program that might help new students adjust to their new school.

Identify the problem.

Research the causes.

Brainstorm possible solutions.

Identify resources and people that can help.

Conduct the project.

Reflect on what was learned during the project.

Name___________________________________________ Date___________________

Top Agricultural Crops in California, Seasons and Regions

Crop that produces the most money in CA

Agricultural Crop

Season Harvested

General Region in California Grown








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