Free History Studies: Thomas Smith and Rice

Thomas Smith was the governor of South Carolina in the late 1600s and brought rice into the state from Madagascar.

Read the current chapter online: “One Little Bag of Rice”

  • Map the following (you’ll find mapping resources below):
    • South Carolina
    • Charleston
    • Madagascar (the island where Thomas Smith had seen rice planted)
  • Many different types of animals are mentioned that were used as food for the early settlers. If time permits investigate each type of animal mentioned and add to an animal notebook: deer, bear, buffalo, rabbit, squirrel, duck, turkey, geese, pigeons, and fish.
  • Many of the settlers made their living by selling animal fur. Read about the beaver fur trade in the Americas.
  • Other settlers made their living from the wood on the land. Make a list of the various wood products mentioned in the chapter.
  • Compare the products the settlers made from the wood with the things we use wood for today.
  • Find out what the difference is between the rice people eat and seed rice that is “fit to sow.”
  • Examine the differences between brown rice and white rice. You’ll find helps below.
  • Rice is no longer a staple grown in South Carolina. Find out where it is grown in the United States today and mark the locations on a map. Why do you think it can be grown in these places?
  • What crops does South Carolina grow today?
  • More about rice from the Book of Knowledge:

    It is said that the introduction of rice into North America was the result of an accident.

    About 1685 a sailing ship bound to England from Madagascar was blown out of her course and put in at Charleston, South Carolina, for repairs. The captain of the ship found that one of the leading residents of the colony was an old friend of his, and before the ship was repaired and the captain sailed away, he gave a small bag of rice to his friend, who had it sown on a swampy piece of land that he owned. The crop was so successful that other planters began to cultivate rice.

    A dozen years later seventeen shiploads of rice left the port of Charleston for England, and that was the beginning of the American export trade in cereal grains which has since grown so large.

    “The Great Cereals,” The Book of Knowledge

Further Investigation

Thomas Smith Sr.
Includes the account of his role in the introduction of rice to South Carolina.

History of Rice
From its humble beginnings in South Carolina to a major U.S. agricultural product.

Brown Rice: A Smart Choice
Health benefits of this grain.

Modern Rice Farming in Louisiana
(You may want to install an ad blocker before viewing.)


Anatomy of Rice
Interactive that breaks it down.

Sourcing U.S. Rice
Interactive at the USA Rice Federation that looks at the various states that produce rice.

Perfect Rice Every Time
Directions for cooking up some rice.

Rice Pudding
Or make some delicious rice pudding with this recipe at!

U.S.-Grown Rice 101
Cooking instructions, two recipes, and nutritional benefits in this 8-page download from the USA Rice Federation.

U.S.-Grown Rice in the Classroom
A 6-page information and activity book from the USA Rice Federation

South Carolina Map/Quiz Printout

Interactive Map Maker {Free}
Make your own maps.


Chicken Soup With Rice by Maurice Sendak
Small book with incredibly catchy verse for your youngest rice enthusiast from a favorite author/illustrator. Read it once, read it twice, and you’ll keep reading Chicken Soup With Rice!

One Grain of Rice

One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale by Demi
Beautifully illustrated tale of a young girl who saves her village by asking the raja for one grain of rice — doubled each day for 30 days. You’ll find resources that go along with this book below.

“The Founding of North and South Carolina”
Chapter from This Country of Ours by H.E. Marshall.

Unit Studies & Lesson Plans

What is Rice — History & Production
Lesson plan at the USA Rice Federation with great background information on what it is, its history, and how it is produced.

All About Rice — Science, Types & Nutrition
More science-oriented lesson plan also at the USA Rice Federation covering the forms of rice, classifications, and nutritional benefits.

Rice and More Rice
Math lesson at the Utah Education Network based on the book One Grain of Rice that shows what happens when factors are doubled.

The Brown Rice Bonus
Lesson plan at the University of Georgia geared for older adults, but completely suitable for all ages, exploring the different types of rice with a view to nutrition.

Free Nature Studies: Trees
A look at trees — a fun rabbit trail correlating with the wood production suggestions above for those with time and interest.

Printables & Notebooking Pages

United States Map
At for locating South Carolina.

South Carolina State Map
Map for locating Charleston.

PAT map for notebook.

Animal Notebook Page
Simple page at to record the fast facts.

Thomas Smith & Rice Notebooking Pages
Simple pages for copywork, narrations, or wrapping up.

Enjoy the complete series:
Free History Studies: Stories of Great Americans
Free History Studies: Stories of Great Americans

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