Dust Bowl Memories

A WebQuest for Grade 5, WebQuest Agricultural Series by Missouri Farm Bureau and Missouri State University

Perhaps you like every day to be warm and sunny.  There have been  times in our history when summers were not just warm and sunny, they were very hot and dry - for a long time.  Farmers rely on adequate amounts of rain for their crops to grow.  This does not just mean rain for grains, fruits and vegetables. Animals and people on farms also rely on pastures and other crops that have to have rain.  In this WebQuest, you will learn about a time when there was not enough water on farms in the Midwest for many years.  You will learn about the "Dust Bowl."

Your task is to learn about droughts and about a time in U.S. history where a drought that was so bad, it resulted in a disaster called the Dust Bowl.

Step 1: A drought is something that most farmers dread. Read about drought.

Step 2.  Over 70 years ago, there was terrible drought in the Midwest.  It is now referred to as the Dust Bowl.  On that site, if you have sound on your computer, listen to the interview with a man who lived through the Dust Bowl (click on the man's picture on the right side of the page.)

Step 3.  On another page at this site, look at photos of the Dust storms and listen to more interviews.

Step 4:  Read about school being let out during a dust storm and listen to the interview.

Step 5:  Complete the three assignments below.

Assignment 1:  Droughts have economic, environmental and social effects.  Select one of these areas. Prepare a PowerPoint that will help others understand the effects. Your PowerPoint should include at least eight slides. Each slide should have a graphic on it. The graphic may be a picture, a chart or a graph.

Assignment 2:  Look at some tall tales from the Dust Bowl.  Take one or more of the tall tales and write a creative fictional story about an event on a farm during the worst of the Dust Bowl.  You might like to write the story on your computer using this page.

Assignment 3:  Imagine you were living through a dust bowl today. What types of things would you see? What precautions would you take? How would it affect your daily life? How long do you think it will last? How will your family cope? What struggles will you face? What food would you eat? How do you think this would affect the agriculture in your area? This can be in paragraph form or journal form. 

Step 6:  Click this link to see what life was like for people during the Dust Bowl.

You now know that the Dust Bowl was a terrible time for American Agriculture.  Americans learned a lot about soil conservation practices that help farmers today.

Rubric for Dust Bowl Projects


10 pts.

8 pts.

6 pts.

0 pts.


Shows understanding of Dust Bowl. Includes at least 8 slides with graphics. Shows some understanding of Dust Bowl.  Includes at least 6 slides and 6 with graphics.  Little understanding of Dust Bowl. Includes 4 slides and 4 graphics. Incomplete. Less than 4 slides and 4 graphics

Tall Tales

Well written. Follows instructions and few spelling and grammatical errors. Shows creativity. Follows most instructions. Contains some spelling and grammatical errors. Shows some creativity. Follows some instructions. Contains many spelling and grammatical errors. Shows little creativity. No attempt.

Writing Prompt

At least 6 complete paragraphs or at least 6 complete journal entries on the proper topic.

At least 5 complete paragraphs or 5 complete journal entries on the proper topic. 

At least 4 complete paragraphs or 4 complete journal entries on the proper topic. 

Less than 4 paragraphs or journal entries.


Growing a Nation
Historical Timeline

Dust Bowl Photos are from the Lyndon Irwin collection.

This WebQuest was created by teachers participating in Missouri's Agriculture in the Classroom program at Missouri State University through a USDA grant.  The template on this site was adapted from a template from The WebQuest Page and the original was designed by Dr. Lyndon Irwin.  Assistance for this project was provided by Mrs. Barbara Irwin, M.S. and Mrs. Diane Olson, M.S

Teachers are encouraged to adapt this lesson for classroom use only.  No part of this publication may be transmitted, stored, recorded or published in any form without written permission from Missouri Farm Bureau.

This page was developed by Dr. Lyndon Irwin and the late Barbara Irwin and is 
maintained by Missouri Farm Bureau.
Please address questions to Diane Olson at Missouri Farm Bureau.