4th Grade - Social Studies

LESSON PROBLEM: History: We all have eaten RICE in puddings and other desserts. RICE is also TASTY by ITSELF. Some people like RICE with BUTTER, others like RICE a little SALTY.

HOW do we know about RICE? WHO first discovered RICE? WHERE did it come from? DOES anyone know?



5,000 years ago rice was found among early fossils.
About 2800 B.C. it was documented that rice was planted by a Chinese emperor.
Rice traveled as people moved from China to Greece, from Persia to the Nile River in Africa.


Finally, rice came to America with the early European settlers. It happened by accident. An African ship was damaged on the beach of South Carolina, and the captain gave a local farmer a few seeds which he called "Gold Seede Rice" (named for its color).

By 1726, "Carolina Gold" became the standard for good-quality rice. The fertile soil on the tidal plains was ideal for planting rice in 2 or 3 inches of water. The rice fields of the tidal plains were located in from the sea coast, but along rivers. When the tides came in, it would push the fresh water of the rivers and streams upstream. The rice farmers of this time would then be able to irrigate the fields with the fresh water that was pushed up the river by turning it onto the fields and "capturing" it with levees and gates. It took many workers in the fields to grow the rice. At this time, South Carolina was exporting the highest quality rice in the world.

It took many workers to prepare the soil, plant, harvest and thresh the rice by hand and with the aid of ox and mule-drawn equipment. By the time the United States became independent from England, rice had become a major agricultural business. Rice was the first exported crop from the Colonies.

The War Between the States from 1861-1865 put an end to plantation farming and labor. The South also had to deal with competition from other crops as well as hurricane weather, so rice development moved westward.

The Gold Rush of 1849 brought people from all nations to California. Among them were 40,000 Chinese whose staple food was rice. To feed these immigrants, rice production was necessary. High labor costs, however, kept rice from becoming a larger industry.

By 1884, the Industrial Revolution was starting to affect farming. One farmer noticed that the solid soils of Louisiana and Texas could hold up the heavy machines needed for planting and harvesting, and rice farming took strong root in these states.

In 1902, Arkansas became a major rice producer helped by the influx of people coming in to buy cheap land. Thus, five southern states became rice producers: Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas. California became a major rice producing state by 1920. One way to remember these six states is to recall these words "MIghTY CLAM". The "MI" (refers to Mississippi) and the TY="TEE" (refers to TEXAS). C L A M stands for California, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri.

Make your own way to recall them. Today these same six states are the largest rice producers in the nation.


Draw a timeline at the bottom of a large piece of paper using the important rice dates in the

STUDY GUIDE. Label all the events.

Draw a picture showing what was happening at each time period above your timeline. Use colored pencils or markers or crayons.

Get a copy of a U.S. map you can draw on and trace around the outside of the six states that produce rice.

Have fun!


Rice is grown in over 100 countries in the world, on all but one continent.

Can you guess which continent does not grow rice? Why not? List some reasons.


Make a picture of the six states in the U.S. that produce the most rice.

Perhaps you could put them in a circle design, or create your own way of combining them together. For example, by size, by order of production, etc. Other than rice production, what else is characteristic of each state?


All about Rice by Riceland Foods Inc.

Rice Briefing Room by the USDA

California Rice

The Food Guide Pyramid

Rice by Britannica.com

Rice Production 1998-1999

  • documented
  • migrated
  • agricultural
  • mechanization
  • immigrants
  • plantation
  • diverting

Click here to play Rice Rampage!
How is Rice Grown:
Farming rice is hard work. Click here to learn more about the Stages of Farming Rice.
Home | Math | Social Studies | Science | Health | Games | Students

© 2004 USRPA, A non-profit association based in Houston, Texas
All Rights Reserved

USRPA does not discriminate in its programs on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, or marital/family status. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of information (such as Braille, large print, sign language interpreter) should contact USRPA at 713-974-7423.