Agricultural Revolution Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

When you think of innovations that changed humanity, you make take farming for granted. However, as this lesson shows, the agricultural revolution was one of the most important things to happen to humans.

What was the Agricultural Revolution?

There's a pretty good shot that if you ask your grandparents or great-grandparents about what it was like growing up, they may say that they grew up on a farm. Cows, chickens, and even a pony may sound like fun to you, but your grandparents might make it sound like a lot of work. After all, they had to take care of those animals as well as grow much of their own food.

The idea of going to the grocery store or a restaurant to get food is a really new one. For thousands of years, people had to grow their food or buy it from a farmer. However, what made people start farming? The start of farming is called the Agricultural Revolution, and that's what this lesson is going to talk about. Just to clarify, as there were a number of events in history that are called Agricultural Revolutions, we're talking about the very first one that happened thousands of years ago.

What Did People Do Before Farming?

If you were to ask your ancestors from thousands of years ago how they got food, they'd have a variety of answers. Some might say they hunted, some might say they gathered fruits and nuts, and some might say they fished. The point is that they were not making food, but finding food.

Of course, you can only hunt or fish or gather from the same place for so long without using everything up, so these people had to move on. However, these hunter-gatherers likely had a trash pile, and that's where they put all their food waste. Every few months they'd come back to an earlier place, hoping that nature had replenished their campsite.

How Did It Happen?

While we can't say exactly when this happened, although it is estimated to be at least 12,000 years ago, people started to notice that their trash piles from the year before were now full of nuts and berries and fruits. Through trial and error, they figured out that they could control what kinds of plants grew. As a result, they were able to start planting their own plants so that when they came back the next season, they could have a head start on the gathering. At first, they still hunted and fished, but soon found out that they could grow much more if they stayed and put the work into it than if they relied on hunting and fishing.

Tools for grinding grain
Grindstone

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