Teaching Civics with Children’s Literature: Farmer George Plants a Nation

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Farmer George Plants a Nation written by Peggy Thomas and illustrated by Layne Johnson, from the maps of Mount Vernon printed on the inside cover of the book to the extra resources found at the end of the book, seeks to teach readers about George Washington from an angle different from that used in most biographies.  

Instead of opening the story by introducing George Washington as the nation’s first president, Peggy Thomas begins by describing Washington as he pursued his primary occupation: farming. Thomas includes this quotation taken from Washington’s 1760 journal, “Spent the greatest part of the day in making a new plow of my own invention” which shows how dedicated he was to improving farming techniques.  The story continues to unfold by explaining Washington’s growing disatisfaction with the British government in terms of the way they handled and taxed the produce he grew and his superb leadership in the Revolutionary War. Even as Washington assumed the presidency of the United States, he continued to look for improvements in agricultural from which all farmers could benefit.

Peggy Thomas does an excellent job of tying George Washington’s political successes with his agricultural contributions. Washington himself also linked these two different spheres in his quote, “Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.”

Curriculum Connections 

 Farmer George Plants a Nation can be used in classrooms ranging from second to fifth grade to provide a look at the life of George Washington and identifies his contributions in the Revolutionary War and his leadership of the United States in its early years. (VA SOL 2.11, VA SOL 3.11b, VA SOL VS.5b, VA SOL VS.6a, VA SOL US1.6c)
 

Additional Resources

  • Teachers can use this lesson plan to reinforce who George Washington was and how we remember his legacy today.
  • These coloring sheets can be used to help students visually recognize George Washington in his various roles.
  • Teachers can use this website to supplement their background knowledge about George Washington, his actions, and contributions.
  • Students can use the time line found on this website to help them remember the sequence of the events of George Washington’s life.

Book: Farmer George Plants a Nation
Author: Peggy Thomas
Illustrator: Layne Johnson
Publisher: Boyds Mills Pr
Publication Date: February 1, 2008
Pages: 40 pages
Grade Range: 2-4
ISBN: 978-1590784600