The Texas Dust Bowl

Social Studies, Grades 4-7

Students will demonstrate understanding of the impact of the Dust Bowl on the lives, livelihoods, interactions, and migrations of every day Americans and Texans through the creation of a three-part series of letters written in first-person perspective to an East Coast friend. Through creation of the letters students will evaluate significant events in the following three periods: the beginning of the Dust Bowl droughts, the worst part of the droughts, and the resulting resolution of the droughts.

 

  • Prior Knowledge Prior Knowledge
  • Hook Hook
  • Lesson Lesson
  • Independent Practice Independent Practice
  • Resources Resources
  • TEKS TEKS
  • Lesson Plan Use Lesson Plan Use
  1. Students should have a basic understanding of what the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl were.
 
  1. The day before this lesson is to be completed, have students interview a relative, family friend, or neighbor who lived through the Great Depression. Instruct students to ask what it was like, if it was more difficult to obtain food, etc.
  2. At the beginning of class, ask students to volunteer what they discovered in their interviews. Specifically inquire if students heard anything about the difficulty of obtaining food and if anyone discussed the Dust Bowl or poor growing conditions during the time.
  3. If students do not have enough prior information, review them on what the Dust Bowl was before beginning the films.
  1. Instruct students to take out a sheet of paper and divide it into an upside down T-Chart, ensuring they leave adequate room under the T for a third section. Have them label the two sections at the top of the page, “Description of the Dust Bowl” and “Impact of the Dust Bowl.” The area under the T should be labeled, “Resolving the Dust Bowl.”
  2. As students view the films, instruct them to take notes over what they see in the proper area of the T-Chart.
  3. Ask students what they think a “black blizzard” is. Take a few answers then show students the films Black Blizzard and Black Blizzards Rage Again Over the Southwest. Have students discuss why the dust storms are referred to as “black blizzards.”
  4. Show students the films Pampa, Texas - Dust Blizzard Blots Out Sun; Buries Plants and Dalhart Dust Storm.
  5. Show students the film $10,000,000 Snow Blanket Covers Texas Dust Bowl; have students discuss why the film is so named.
  6. Show students Civilian Conservation Corps Fights Erosion.
  7. Have students share some of the answers they have added to their charts, instructing other students to add anything they did not already write down. As students are sharing, discuss or answer any questions that may arise.
  8. Have students work with a partner to select the two most important factors or points in each of the three sections of the T-chart. Have students share their answers with the class and discuss.
After students have viewed and discussed the films documenting the destruction of crops in the Texas Dust Bowl, have them use their notes, textbooks, and other primary and secondary sources to create a series of three letters written from the perspective of an individual impacted by the situation.
  1. Students can choose a child of a farmer, a farmer, a store owner, a migrant worker, etc.
  2. Using their textbook, notes from the videos, books from the library, and Internet resources, have students research the situation at the beginning of the Dust Bowl droughts, during the worst part of the droughts, and the period of resolution at the end of the droughts.
  3. Using the information from their research, have students take on the persona they have chosen and write three letters, one for each period researched, to a friend who lives on the East Coast and is, therefore, not experiencing the drought. (Remind students that this means they should incorporate significant background information into the first letter).
  4. The letters should include 5-10 historical facts in each one and should explicitly address the impact of the Dust Bowl on the lives of every day Texans focusing specifically on social, economic, migratory changes at each of the specified three points.
  5. There should be distinct differences between the facts contained in each letter.
  6. OPTIONAL: Have several students volunteer to share the contents of their letter at the end of class.
  • National Museum of American History
  • Sandler, Martin W. ''The Dust Bowl through the Lens: How Photography Revealed and Helped Remedy a National Disaster''. New York: Walker Books for Young Readers, 2009.
  • Janke, Katelan. ''Survival in the Storm: The Dust Bowl Diary of Grace Edwards, Dalhart, Texas 1935''. New York: Scholastic Inc., 2002.
  • Miller, Susan Martins. ''Rosa Takes a Chance: Mexican Immigrants in the Dust Bowl Years (1935). Sisters in Time'', vol. 21. Ulrichsville, Ohio: Barbour Books, 2006.
  • CALIFORNIA: Stanley, Jerry. ''Children of the Dust Bowl: The True Story of the School at Weedpatch Camp''. New York: Crown Books for Young Readers, 1993.
  • OKLAHOMA: Henderson, Caroline. Letters from the Dust Bowl. Wichita Falls, TX: Red River Books, 2003.
  • Egan, Timothy. ''The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl''. New York: Mariner Books, 2006.
 
Social Studies Grade 4
 
8C - Explain the geographic factors such as landforms and climate that influence patterns of settlement and the distribution of population in Texas, past and present
 
9A - Describe ways people have adapted to and modified their environment in Texas, past and present such as timber clearing, agricultural production, wetlands, drainage, energy production, and construction of dams
 
9C - Compare the positive and negative consequences of human modification of the environment in Texas, past and present, both governmental and private, such as economic development and the impact on habitats and wildlife as well as air and water quality
 
12C - Analyze the effects of exploration, immigration, migration, and limited resources on the economic development and growth of Texas
 
22B - Incorporate main and supporting ideas in verbal and written communication
 
22D - Create written and visual material such as journal entries, reports, graphic organizers, outlines, and biographies
 
 
Social Studies Grade 5
 
8B - Explain the geographic factors that influence patterns of settlement and the distribution of population in the United States, past and present
 
9A - Describe how and why people have adapted to and modified their environment in the United States, past and present, such as the use of human resources to meet basic needs
 
9B - Analyze the positive and negative consequences of human modification of the environment in the United States, past and present
 
13A - Compare how people in different parts of the United States earn a living, past and present
 
25B - Incorporate main and supporting ideas in verbal and written communication
 
25C - Express ideas orally based on research and experiences
 
25D - Create written and visual material such as journal entries, reports, graphic organizers, outlines, and bibliographies
 
 
Social Studies Grade 6
 
1A - Trace characteristics of various contemporary societies in regions that resulted from historical events or factors such as invasion, conquests, colonization, immigration, and trade
 
3B - Pose and answer questions about geographic distributions and patterns for various world regions and countries shown on maps, graphs, charts, models, and databases
 
3C - Compare various world regions and countries using data from geographic tools, including maps, graphs, charts, databases, and models
 
6A - Describe and explain the effects of physical environmental processes such as erosion, ocean currents, and earthquakes on Earth's surface
 
7A – Describe ways in which the factors of production (natural resources, labor, capital, and entrepreneurs) influence the economies of various contemporary societies
 
7B - Identify and analyze ways people have modified the physical environment such as mining, irrigation, and transportation infrastructure
 
22A - Use social studies terminology correctly
 
22B - Incorporate main and supporting ideas in verbal and written communication based on research
 
22C - Express ideas orally based on research and experiences
 
22D - Create written and visual material such as journal entries, reports, graphic organizers, outlines, and bibliographies based on research
 
22E - Use standard grammar, spelling, sentence structure, and punctuation
 
 
Social Studies Grade 7
 
7B - Define and trace the impact of “boom and bust” cycles of leading Texas industries throughout the 20th and early 21st centuries, such as farming, oil and gas production,  cotton, ranching, real estate, banking and computer technology
 
9C - Analyze the effects of physical and human factors such as climate, weather, landforms, irrigation, transportation, and communication on major events in Texas
 
10A - Identify ways in which Texans have adapted to and modified the environment and analyze the positive and negative consequences of the modifications
 
10B - Explain ways in which geographic factors such as the Galveston hurricane of 1900, the Dust Bowl, limited water resources, and alternative energy sources have affected the political, economic, and social development of Texas
 
21D - Identify points of view from the historical context surrounding an event and the frame of reference that influenced the participants
 
21E - Support a point of view on a social studies issue or event
 
22D - Create written, oral, and visual presentations of social studies information
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