Lesson Plan: Overview

Between the Rivers

Grade Level: 2nd

Map of South Carolina by Robert Mills, 1825

Academic Standards

Standard 2-1: The student will demonstrate an understanding of cultural contributions made by people from the various regions of the United States.

2-1.2 Compare the historic traditions, customs, and cultures of various regions in the United States, including how traditions are passed between and among generations.

2-1.3 Summarize the cultural contributions of Native American nations, African Americans, and immigrant groups in different regions of the United States.

Standard 2-2: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the local community and the way it compares with other communities in the world.

2-2.1 Locate on a map the places and features of the local community, including geographic features and the urban, suburban, and rural areas.

2-2.2 Recognize characteristics of the local region, including its geographic features and natural resources.

Social Studies Literacy Elements

E. Explain change and continuity over time.

G. Make and record observations about the physical and human characteristics of places.

H. Construct maps, graphs, tables, and diagrams to display social studies information.

L. Interpret calendars, time lines, maps, charts, tables, graphs, flow charts, diagrams, photographs, paintings, cartoons, architectural drawings, documents, letters, censuses, and other artifacts.

M. Use tables and graphs to observe and interpret geographic trends and relationships.

K. Use texts, photographs, and documents to observe and interpret social studies trends and relationships.

Historical Background Notes

South Carolina is known as “a little triangle on the map” with only 31, 113 square miles. In this small state in the Deep South, there are six different land form regions. They range from the Coastal Zone to the Blue Ridge. The coastal plain, which comprises two-thirds of the state, is divided into the outer coastal plain and the inner coastal plain. The terrain in this area is mostly flat with the elevation rising from 220 to 300 feet above sea level. (Edgar, Walter. South Carolina A History. Columbia, South Carolina: The University of South Carolina Press, 1998.) It is in this area of the state that Dillon County is located.

Dillon County, which was once part of Craven County, was authorized by the English Lord’s Proprietors in 1682. Later the territory, that is now known as Dillon and Marion, was once included in the newly formed Liberty County. It remained there and in 1868 the name was changed to Marion County. Nevertheless, even through the many name changes, the area played a significant role in the economic, social, and political responses of the county. In 1910 Dillon County was established from the northern portion of Marion County.  The county became the forty-third in the Palmetto State and is almost triangular in shape.  (Stokes, Donald T.  The History of Dillon County.  Columbia, South Carolina:  The University of South Carolina Press, 1998.)

Dillon County is located in the northeast quadrant of South Carolina.  It is bordered to the west by Marlboro County and the Great Pee Dee River; on the south by its parent county, Marion; on the east by the Lumber River; and to the north by the state line of North Carolina.  It is an area rich in agricultural resources. (Stokes, Donald T.  The History of Dillon County South Carolina.  Columbia, South Carolina:  The University of South Carolina Press, 1978.) The history of the area is just as diverse as its natural resources.  Many of the old plantations of this area are still in existence today and are part of our agricultural production.

The county, now known as” quietly progressive,” is known for its vast amount of farm land and excellent growing conditions.  Two of the main commodities of the area, both at the time of slavery and today, are cotton and tobacco.  Farm acreage suitable for these crops can be found in great quantities in and around Dillon County.  This is due in large part to the fact that most of the people who settled in this county were well versed in the many phases of agriculture.   Rich, fertile river and creek land drew many good farmers to this area also. These families have passed the colonial farming methods down through the generations.  With knowledge from the past and the new methods of today, farming is a growing economy.  In fact, agriculture remains one of the many leading industries of growth in the state of South Carolina today.

Slave labor was an integral factor in the agricultural production of the state.  Before 1865 slaves played a significant role in the developing culture of South Carolina.  The economy of the state was largely based on the plantation system which depended on slave labor.  Slaves brought much of their African culture with them, including their knowledge of farming.  They also brought other aspects of their culture such as language, dance, woodcarving, and basket weaving.  They reared their children in a culture that was steeped in their African roots, from cooking practices to folklore.  The language, called Gullah, was a spoken language of Africans that could allow them to freely communicate with one another.  Gullah was and still is unique to the state due to the area’s limited access and large concentration of Africans from many different regions.  However, the slaves were never as numerous as the whites in our area of the state.  Many of the plantation owners had anywhere from one to a dozen slaves. (Edgar, Walter.  South Carolina A History.  Columbia, South Carolina:  The University of South Carolina Press, 1998.) These slaves were used to cultivate the many acres of farm land across the county.  After emancipation, the census records show that most of the freed slaves remained in the area and took on the surname of their former masters.  (Stokes, Donald T.  The History of Dillon County South Carolina.  Columbia, South Carolina:  University of South Carolina Press, 1978.)

Freed African Americans looked for ways to make a living after the end of slavery.  Many looked to the landowners to continue providing farming jobs as a means of survival.  Therefore, the landowners set up a new system to replace slavery called sharecropping in which the sharecropper gave the landowner a share of the crop, or they worked their own plots of land and paid the land owners a fixed rent. This is probably due to the fact that many of the slaves formed a bond with the overseers or masters and stayed on as tenant farmers or sharecroppers.  On the other hand, the tenant farmer lived on the land provided by the farmer using the equipment of the farmer.  The tenant farmer often became indebted to the farmer in many ways. 

This was the case in many of the existing plantations of the county.  The Bethea family of Dillon County, who received an original land grant, owned and operated a plantation in this area from the late 1700’s to the present.  It is at this location that one of the slave cemeteries in the county can be found.  Ten or more headstones and numerous unmarked graves tell a story from the beginnings of slavery to emancipation and beyond.  Just before emancipation, the Bethea family had decided that the slaves on their plantations should be given plots of land on the west side of Reedy Creek.  This area is now known as the Skillet.  A descendent of the Bethea family, who was a census taker in 1963, was given the area of the Skillet as his territory.  He found that many families held his family in high esteem due to the gift that was given to their families many years before. 

The Hewn-Timber cabins, located on the grounds of Francis Marion University, and the Bethea plantation are both examples of what slave life was like in our area of the state.  The cabins were built by African Americans who came to Mars Bluff as slaves in 1836.  They depict the living conditions of slaves in our area.  (Vernon, Amelia Wallace.  African Americans at Mars Bluff, South Carolina.  Columbia, South Carolina:  University of South Carolina Press, 1995.)  Therefore, it is evident from these primary sources that slavery was once a way of life for many African Americans.


Primary Sources

“Historical Aerial Map of Latta” Map. 

Historical Markers in Florence County, South Carolina.  “Hewn Timber Cabins.” Photographs.  Available from the Internet, Pee Dee Resource Conservation and Development Council.  (22, January 2009).

Mills’ Atlas of the State of South Carolina1825 Edition.  Map Collection.  South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia, South Carolina.

McLaurin, Patricia.  “Old Slave Cemetery (slave cemetery) in Dillon County.”  Photograph.  McLaurin Family Album.  2003.  

Stroyer, Jacob. My Life in the South.  Salem:  Salem Observer Book and Job Print, 1885.  Available in e-book form on Documenting the American South Website.  “My Life in the South.” This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (6th of February, 2009).    

Taylor, Arie Reinhardt.  “The Cotton Fields.”  Photograph.  McLaurin Family, 1945.

Unknown, Artist.  “The Old Plantation.”  Photograph, 1790 – 1800.  Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation 2009, Williamsburg Virginia.

United States.  Bureau of the Census.  Population Schedules (South Carolina).  (M432 Reel 856).  Marion, Marlboro, and Newberry districts:  1850. South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia, South Carolina.

Secondary Sources

"Dillon Townships". Map.  Available from the Internet. As created by Victoria Proctor, Dillon County: History and Genealogy.  (2nd of February, 2009).

Edgar, Walter.  The South Carolina Encyclopedia.  Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, 2006

Sample of Cotton. Kamma, Anne.  If You Lived When There Was Slavery in AmericaNew York: Scholastic, 2006.

Marion County, SC Townships 1880".  Map.  Available from the Internet. As created by Victoria Proctor, Dillon County:  History and Genealogy. (2nd of February, 2009).

Mifflin, Houghton.  Social Studies.  Lost and FoundBoston:  Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005.

Nichols, Elaine.  The Last Miles of the Way:  African-American Homegoing Traditions 1890 – Present.  Columbia, South Carolina:  Dependable Printing Company, Inc., 1989.

Unknown, Author. “South Carolina Studies Weekly.” Slavery. Available from The South Carolina Studies Weekly.” Vol. 8, Issue 2, History section, pg. 2,3.

Stokes, Donald T.  The History of Dillon County South CarolinaColumbia,  South Carolina:  University of South Carolina Press, 1978.

West, Jean M.  “Tobacco and Slavery:  The Vile Weed.”  Slavery in America. Available from the Internet. (3rd of February, 2009).

Know It All. Available from the Internet, Gullah Net. SC ETV Commission. (23rd of January, 2009).



Lesson Plans

This unit Between the Rivers is comprised of two lessons encompassing approximately fifteen days.  Lesson One entitled Our Community focuses on the community in which we live and some of the many aspects of this community.  During this lesson, the students will study our community and become familiar with a few of the geographic features.  This lesson incorporates the natural resources that are in abundance in this area.  The second lesson in the unit will examine the natural resources more closely.

The second lesson in the unit entitled Cotton, Not Forgotten discusses the cultural contributions of the African American people.  At this time, slavery is introduced and students are comparing and contrasting their life today to that of slave children.  It is at this time that the natural resources common in this area are brought into the picture. Students are able to determine how these natural resources have been used in our area for many years and how they are still being used today. Many primary sources are used in this lesson to give the students a greater understanding of how the cultures of our area have developed over the years. Students are able to compare the cultural life of slave children to the cultural life of children today.

Our Community (Instructional Plan)

  1. The teacher will activate prior knowledge by having children describe houses, stores, and streets around where they live. The teacher will ask if they know the names of some of their neighbors and pets.
  2. The teacher will explain that the lesson is about communities, places where people live and how those places are alike and different.
  3. The teacher will guide students in recognizing characteristics of our region and explain natural resources that are found in this area.
  4. The teacher will contact a member of the Cotton Museum in Bishopville, SC, and ask that member to come speak to the class on the importance of cotton in our community.

Guided Practice:

  1. The teacher will read aloud the fictional story entitled Lost and Found.
  2. The students will brainstorm ways in which the story is similar to the community in which they live.
  3. The teacher will display a map of the United State of America and point out the state in which we live. At this time, the teacher will point out that we live on the continent of North America in the country of the United States. To understand the concept of a country, the teacher may want to explain that a continent can contain many countries.
  4. The teacher will then display a map of South Carolina. He/She will point to the county of Dillon and explain that this is the county in which we live.
  5. The teacher will use the Teaching U.S. History website to show the students a map, Mills’ Atlas, of South Carolina in 1825. The teacher will then point out that we will be studying this time frame in the next lesson.
  6. The teacher will also use the South Carolina Information Highway website to show the students a map of Dillon County when it was part of Marion County.
  7. The students will explain or identify key things that occurred when Dillon County was formed.
  8. At this time, the teacher may want to display the aerial map of Latta and have students identify Latta Elementary School, Dillon County Library, and the police station.
  9. The teacher will write the message: Tell about what you see in the neighborhood near our school. The children will then list on chart paper the places that they could show on a map of the school neighborhood.
  10. The teacher will guide the students in making a map of the school neighborhood.
  11. The teacher will accompany the children in singing a song about places to the tune of "The Green Grass Grows All Around." There is a world, the nicest world you ever could see. And the sun shines all around. Now on our world there is North America, the United States of America, South Carolina, Dillon County, and Latta.
  12. The teacher will guide the students to think about the area around where they live. He/She will then ask the question: What does most of the land around where we live look like? Is it steep, or flat land? The teacher can also ask the students if they can name a big body of water that is in our state and near our community.
  13. The teacher will then show the children a list of landform and plant regions. Choosing the region of the United States in which we live, the teacher will guide the students through that region pointing out different areas of interest.
  14. After showing the book, a South Carolina Encyclopedia, the students will brainstorm on chart paper different natural resources that might be found in our local area. Using the book, The History of Dillon County, the teacher will also share a few interesting facts about our county. This will also allow the students to see the importance of some of these natural resources that are found in our area.
  15. The teacher will then pass out cotton for students to touch. The teacher will identify that this is a natural resource found in our local area. At this time, one of the local cotton growers of the area will be asked to speak to the class on the importance of cotton.
  16. The teacher will also bring in tobacco leaves for students to examine. She will then explain to them the importance of tobacco in our area. Students can list the similarities they see between cotton and tobacco. The teacher will tell the students that they will examine tobacco more closely in the next lesson.

Independent Practice:

  1. After discussing the community and neighborhoods in which they live, the students will write about their neighborhoods, see Community Essay. The teacher will remind the students to write about both people and places and include a special landmark that will make their writing accurate and true to life. The writing will be assessed using an assessment rubric.
  2. The students can work in pairs to draw pictures of and talk about things that are found in their neighborhoods, including people, stores, and parks. The students will illustrate their discussions and compare details of one neighborhood to another.
  3. In the Social Studies Center, the students can create a rural area using small boxes and clay.
  4. The students will work together in three groups gathering to represent three different neighborhoods. The children in each group will discuss and draw pictures of the neighborhood they represent. The children will then hold up their pictures and all of the "neighborhoods" (groups) will move closer together to become a "community." The students will then describe and name the community in which they live.
  5. The students will complete the Flow Chart with vocabulary words country, state, and continent from the largest at the top to the smallest at the bottom. They will be required to identify each of the areas.
  6. The students will complete a Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting two different types of natural resources.
  7. After hearing the member of the Cotton Museum in Bishopville, SC, speak on the importance of cotton in our area, the students will write about what they have learned about this important natural resource.
  8. The students will write c0mments daily from the line of learning question in their journals. This will be assessed using the assessment rubric.
  9. The students will retell the key concepts of this lesson either orally or in writing. Students may pantomime the key aspects and have other students determine the aspect of the lesson in which they were displaying.
  10. The students will complete a Test assessing the knowledge of the material presented in the lesson using multiple choice questions and short answer questions.

Lesson Plan: Cotton, Not Forgotten (Instructional Plan)

  1. See attached lesson entitled, Cotton, Not Forgotten, to view Instructional Plan, Guided Practice, and Independent Practice.

Teacher Reflections

The Teaching American History in South Carolina Institute proved to be a very worthwhile learning experience.  It allowed me the opportunity to explore many different aspects of history and also different ways in which to think about them.  The historical content portion of the course reminded me of many facets of history that had been forgotten.  Now, I feel that I am more aware of American history in the Pee Dee and the impact that it has had on our lives.  The methods of instruction provided me with an abundance of primary and secondary sources that I can use in my classroom.  Many of the games and activities could be adapted to second grade students.  However, the most rewarding of all was visiting the different cultural institutions.  Visiting the different venues gave me an opportunity to realize how teachers could use each and every one in their classroom.

The partnership that I completed with Latta Revitalization proved to be a key component of my lesson plan. This partnership allowed my students to explore many of the historical areas of their own community.  During their visit to Veteran’s Park, they were able to attend a one room school, view farm tools and machinery of the past, and visit a museum with replica from their community.  My first lesson in the unit entitled, “Between the Rivers”, dealt with our community and its history.  Therefore, in partnering with Latta Revitalization, my students were given the opportunity to explore the community in which they live.

In the lesson, “Our Community,” students were also asked to identify natural resources found in our area.  During the summer institute offered by TAHSC, I was able to visit the Cotton Museum in Bishopville, South Carolina.  It was then that I realized by partnering with members of the Cotton Museum my students might actually be able to identify a natural resource that is found in abundance in our area of the state.  Cullen Bryant, a member of the Cotton Museum, is a local farmer in our area.  He graciously agreed to come and speak with the class on the importance of cotton in our area.

Having someone come into the classroom and speak on the subject seemed to make history come alive for my second grade students.  They really enjoyed the “hands on” experience of touching the cotton and pulling out the seeds. I only wish that the students had been able to take a field trip to the Cotton Museum; however, with the budget cuts during the year, this was not possible.  Nevertheless, this activity was a great introduction into the second lesson, “Cotton, Not Forgotten.”

This lesson entitled, “Cotton, Not Forgotten,” specifically discussed the cultural contributions of the African American people in our area.  At this time, slavery was introduced and the students were able to compare and contrast their lives today to that of slave children.  The students were very excited about this because they were able to bring in their prior knowledge to complete this task.  Personally, I was very amazed that they seemed to grasp the concept of time, which is often a hard skill for young children.  I believe that it was due to the first hand knowledge that they had from visiting the one room school and being able to compare their school to that particular school.  Also, during this same lesson, natural resources that were common in our area were discussed.  The students automatically remembered their lesson on cotton from the guest speaker.  It was at this time that they associated the importance of cotton with slavery in Dillon County.  They seemed to sympathize with the slaves and how hard it must have been to pick the cotton.

In working with TAHSC, I gained a greater knowledge of how to bring in both primary and secondary sources to use with my students.  Before this partnership, I was unsure of how to approach the subject of slavery with second grade students.  I was not even sure as to how much of the issue that they would understand.  However, the content instruction that I received over the summer, along with the class discussions, gave me a clear understanding of how the material could be presented in a way that students would be able to understand.  By using primary and secondary sources, I feel that my students have a much deeper understanding of the topic of slavery.  The primary sources really helped them see things first hand and made history come alive for them.

The methods instruction that I received over the summer had a tremendous impact on the success of my lesson.  I was able to use many of the exercises and pictures that we were given.  However, I did have to break it down for 2nd grade students and give a little more background information; nevertheless, it worked wonders and the students really enjoyed that portion of the lesson.  One student even made the comment that the one thing she enjoyed about the lesson was being able to run in the classroom with permission!  By using these activities, I feel that the students have a much better understanding of the topic compared to using the traditional method of paper and pencil.

Not only have the students enjoyed the lessons, but I have really enjoyed teaching these lessons.  Parents have shared that their children are really enjoying the history lessons and are actually helping their older siblings with some of the same information.  It is amazing to see the look on their faces when they see these primary sources and are actually able to comprehend what life was like during that time period.  Having visited the hand-hewn timber cabins on the grounds of Francis Marion University, I was able to come away with many great pictures of both the inside and outside of the cabins.  By visiting these cabins, I have a primary source that can be used for many years to come.  I am sure that I will continue to use these sources in my lessons in the future.  I even plan to add a few more sources and activities to the lessons.  In researching the topic, I have realized many ways in which I can expand the lesson to encompass more information.  Sometime in the future, when budget cuts are fewer, I hope I will be able to take the students to Francis Marion University and visit the slave cabins.

Traveling across the country and visiting the many different cultural areas of this great nation inspired me and gave me a sense of appreciation for history.  However, it was with the help of TAHSC that I realized how I could bring those childhood experiences into the classroom.  Many thanks to TAHSC for making history come alive in my classroom!

Student Assessment

See assessments (Flow Chart, Venn Diagram, Test) of Our Community

See attached assessments of Cotton, Not Forgotten

Examples of Students Work

Community Essay

Our Community Test

Vocabulary Flow Chart


Patricia B. McLaurin
Latta, South Carolina