Wednesday, July 15

Out of the Dust + The Dust Bowl

Severe dust storms wracked prairieland during the 1930s, leading to severe drought, lack of crops, loss of life, and a reshaping of the American population...
Over one hundred million acres of land, stretching from Texas to Colorado, experienced dust storms.  Originally used to describe the affected area, the term ‘Dust Bowl’ eventually came to label the entire event.  It was also termed ‘The Dirty Thirties.’  The storms were caused by several concurrent factors, including a flood of new farmers hoping to cash in on rising wheat prices, unusually rainy years followed by drought years, overplanting (without allowing time for the soil to recover), and high winds that swept the topsoil away.
New machinery, such as tractors and combine harvesters, allowed farmers to plant more crops than ever before, stretching the land to its limits.  When the dust storms came, they ravaged the land, picking up huge clouds that could black out the sun from the sky.  The choking winds came up suddenly, with little warning, and swept over everything in their path...taking the lives of livestock and people. 
Tens of thousands of poverty-stricken families lost their livelihoods and were forced to abandon their farms.  Many of these ‘Okies’ and ‘Arkies’ migrated westward, often to find that the economic conditions there were no better than home. The years of 1934, 1936, and 1939 were the worst, but some areas experienced drought for eight years.  These years have been immortalized through works such as Steinbeck’s ‘The Grapes of Wrath,’ the photographs of Dorothea Lange, and songs from Woody Guthrie.
After the Dust Bowl, the farmers and government worked to ensure that an agricultural catastrophe of this magnitude never happened again.  Soil conservation practices, such as crop rotation and contour plowing, were adapted and taught to other farmers.  More than two hundred million trees were planted across the prairies to provide a wind break, help keep moisture in the ground, and hold the soil in place. 

Our spine read for this unit is Out of the Dust

Access the complete unit in the American History Novel Studies Bundle!

Includes sixteen unit studies covering American History. Each unit addresses a new topic, spanning the Revolutionary War to Vietnam.  Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand.

  • There are photographs and illustrations, and we have also included primary documents when available.
  • After this text, there are featured videos, which augment the background information and help make the topic more accessible for more visual students.
  • You will also find a short list of reading books, including a featured novel that the unit builds upon.
  • There are vocabulary words, places, and people to identify.
  • Reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments are included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the era to life.
  • Some units also have cooking projects.

These studies are directed toward upper grades students, but some have resources for younger students so that the whole family can work together. Our family has used unit studies as curriculum for many years, and we hope that your family will enjoy these, too!

Product sample:  Paper Son & Angel Island Immigration  & Within These Lines & Japanese Internment

  • Casualties of War & Vietnam War
  • No Promises in the Wind & the Great Depression
  • Out of the Dust & the Dust Bowl
  • The Watsons Go to Birmingham & Civil Rights
  • Dusty Sourdough & Alaska
  • The King of Mulberry Street & Ellis Island Immigration
  • Paper Son & Angel Island Immigration
  • The Red Menace & McCarthyism
  • Johnny Tremain & Faces of the American Revolution
  • Sounder & Sharecropping
  • World War II Code Talkers
  • Flashback Four: Hamilton-Burr Duel
  • Within These Lines & Japanese Internment Camps
  • Flashback Four: Titanic Mission
  • Flashback Four: Lincoln Project
  • The Diviners / The Great Gatsby & Roaring Twenties

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