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Tobacco: Exploring Tobacco Culture

Subject: Eighth-grade, Social Studies
Written by:
Seth Brown and Sam Newell, Pitt County Schools, Greenville, NC

Lesson Plan Format


This lesson will guide students through the tobacco planting process. Students will use primary sources to learn the steps necessary in growing tobacco and create a flow map to graphically organize the process.



Competency Goal 5: The learner will evaluate the impact of political, economic, social and technological changes on life in North Carolina from 1870 to 1930.

Objective 5.01: Identify the role played by the agriculture, textile, tobacco, and furniture industries in North Carolina, and analyze their importance in the economic development of the state.

Skill Competency Goal 2: The learner will acquire strategies to access a variety of sources, and use appropriate research skills to gather, synthesize, and report information using diverse modalities to demonstrate the knowledge acquired.

Objective 2.02: Explore print and non-print materials.

Time Required for Lesson:
One class period.

Materials/Supplies Needed:
Access to the Internet and the Eastern North Carolina Digital History Exhibits; pencils and paper.

Recommended Digital Resources:

Capt. R. B. Davis, "Tobacco Culture", Eastern Reflector (Greenville, NC), 19 February 1890 (

Lesson Plan Format

Focus and Review:
Students need to know how to create a flow map to organize the tobacco growing process.

Have the students answer the following question: “Pitt County was the largest producer of a certain product in the entire United States.” Brainstorm a list of possible products that Pitt County would lead the US. Orally discuss the list with the class asking why they think Pitt County would be the leader in that product. Once tobacco is named, ask students to describe anything they know about tobacco. Question them about their knowledge of growing tobacco.

Statement of Objectives/Inquiry Formation:
Students will read a primary account describing the process used to grow tobacco. They will organize the steps in the growing process using a flow map.

Teacher Input:
Teacher will demonstrate how to navigate the Eastern North Carolina Digital History Exhibit web page ( Students will click on the Tobacco Exhibit link; click on the Newspapers link; click on the 1890 February 19 “Tobacco Culture” link. The teacher will introduce the article and describe the major sections in the article: Preparation and Care of Plant Beds; SELECTION AND PREPARATION OF THE SOIL; PLANTING; CULTIVATION; TOPPING; WORMS; SUCCORING.

Group Activities:
Students should be divided into groups to read the growing process and create the flow map. Teachers will assign each group to one step in the growth process. The group will create a flow map describing that process and the necessary steps in the process.

Whole Class Activities:
The entire class will then create a flow map of the entire tobacco growing process based on each group’s flow map. The teacher should facilitate the process of getting each group to share its flow map and linking one step to the next. Each student should create an entire flow map describing the entire growing process.

Reflection and Closure:
The teacher should question the students to get them to reflect on the difficulties of this labor intensive process. This will allow students to use the flow map to create a fictional biography focused on one person involved in the tobacco industry in a future lesson.

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Page Updated 01 September 2004
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