Explore Arizona’s 5 Cs!

Can you name the 5 Cs?
. . . All of them?

The 5 Cs represent the major industries that shaped early Arizona.  Understanding them is key to understanding our state today.

The following activities and worksheets are adapted from Heritage Square’s 5 Cs Traveling Trunk, which is jam-packed with genuine artifacts and hands-on exercises.  Find out more about borrowing the Trunk here!

Each lesson tab below is divided into 3 sections: Getting Started, which gives some background information; the Activity, which in most cases is a 1- to 2-page worksheet; and Find Out More, a collection of follow-up questions, research suggestions, and ideas for additional activities.

  • Introduction to the 5 Cs

    Getting Started

    People have lived in the place we now call Arizona for thousands of years.  They have built homes, farmed and hunted, made art, played games, and told stories.  Sometimes they’ve struggled and sometimes they’ve thrived.  The flags of Spain, Mexico, and the United States have flown over this piece of land.

    The 5 C’s are not the whole story, but they’re a good place to start getting to know the people and places of our state.

    Test what you already know about the 5 C’s (no peeking!) and figure out the C’s you don’t know with the following worksheet.


    Introduction to the 5 C’s Worksheet

    Find Out More

    Did you already know the 5 C’s or is this new to you?  You’ll know them all by the end of these activities!


  • #1: Climate

    Getting Started

    Climate is the C that everyone forgets, but it might just be the most important of all!  In this lesson, you’ll find out why that is, as you travel through five Arizona cities.

    A few things that might help you with this worksheet:

    • Arizona is commonly divided into three regions: Plateau, Mountain, and Desert.  Each of these regions has different geographic features, wildlife, natural resources, and climate conditions.  In just a few hours, you can drive from the Sonoran Desert, through mountain ranges, up to the high plateau region of northern Arizona.

    • If you’re not sure about the difference between climate and weather, that’s okay!  Watch this video from Crash Course Kids to learn more.

    • The current weather for the 5 cities has been compiled on Arizona Edventures.


    Climate Worksheet

    Find Out More

    For thousands of years, Arizona’s climate has shaped the way people eat, dress, travel, and more.

    • Does your family live differently in the summer versus in the winter?  Do you, for example, barbecue outside and go swimming to keep cool during the really hot summer?  Brainstorm ways that climate impacts your life and make a list.

    • Thinking about the list you’ve made, design a dream house with features that will keep it cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, and the less electricity it uses, the better!

    For educators: The Arizona Geographic Alliance is a great resource for lessons focused on geography and map literacy:

    Map Your State: Regions of Arizona

    When Is a Desert Not a Desert? The Varying Landscapes of Arizona 

    Living in the Desert: Hohokam Adaptation to Their Environment

    Let’s Travel: Travel Brochures of Arizona

  • #2: Citrus

    Getting Started

    What is citrus?  Can you name some examples?

    The citrus genus includes oranges, lemons, grapefruit, pummelos, tangerines, kumquats. . . and the list goes on!  Do you have any citrus trees in your yard, or do you know someone who does?  Nothing beats the smell of orange blossoms in the spring or the taste of a sweet orange you’ve just picked!


    1. Complete this worksheet.  You’ll learn about the early history of citrus cultivation, grow your vocabulary, and discover some Arizona farmers.

    Citrus Worksheet

    2. Ask an adult to print out this timeline—either larger cards on 4 sheets of paper or smaller cards on a single sheet—and cut it into 8 text cards and 8 image cards.  Shuffle the cards.  First, read the text cards and put them into chronological order (from the oldest date to the most recent).  Then, examine the images carefully and decide which image best fits each text card.  Finally, draw a Citrus in Arizona timeline, putting the important events into your own words.

    Citrus Timeline – Larger Cards

    Citrus Timeline – Smaller Cards

    Find Out More

    Tohono O’odham cooking incorporates food that can be found growing wild in the Sonoran Desert, such as cholla buds and prickly pear fruit, and crops that have been grown in the desert for centuries, like squash and tepary beans, not to mention citrus.  Recipes for Cholla Bud Cactus Spinach Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette and O’odham White Tepary Bean Stew can be found here.  Give them a try!

    When Arizona gives you lemons, make lemonade!  Experiment with the lemonade variations from this article, published in the Arizona Republican newspaper on June 19, 1910.  Which do you like the best?

    How you can learn about the farmers who keep Arizona fed today?

    • Go to a farmer’s market or farm stand!  Buying directly from the growers means you’ll get locally-grown, in-season produce.  A Japanese system of community-supported agriculture called Teikei has the slogan “food with the farmer’s face on it.”  What do you think “food with the farmer’s face on it” means?  Why is it good for the environment and the economy to buy from local farmers?

    • Pick your own produce at a U-pick farm!  In the past, farm workers, standing on ladders, would drop citrus fruits into large cotton bags as they picked them, then dump them into wooden crates to be transported by wagon or truck.  Today, lighter weight bags and crates are used instead, but it’s still tough work.  At a U-pick farm, however, you only need to pick as much as you can eat!

    • Use the internet!  One Arizona family that’s still growing citrus is the Justice family.  They have been farming in the West Valley since 1928.  You can watch a video about them and read an article.  What do they like about farming?  What are some of the challenges?

  • #3: Cotton

    Getting Started

    Where does cotton come from?  Hint: It doesn’t come from tiny sheep!

    Cotton has been grown in Arizona for more than a thousand years, by the Hohokam and later Akimel O’otham in central Arizona, and by the Hopi and other Puebloan peoples on the mesas of northern Arizona.  Today, cotton is grown primarily in Maricopa and Pinal counties, which offer the long, warm growing season it needs.  Cotton is still an important crop in our state, but water usage and environmental concerns make its future uncertain.

    Learn about how cotton is grown, then find out more about its development, its uses, and the people who have grown it with the following worksheet.


    Cotton Worksheet

    Find Out More

    What can we learn about clothing and textile production from archaeological finds?  Older students may read this fall 1999 issue of Archaeology Southwest to learn more!

    If your school or family has a garden, grow some cotton!

    Native Seeds/SEARCH, an Arizona non-profit organization that works “to conserve and promote the arid-adapted crop diversity of the Southwest in support of sustainable farming and food security,” sells heirloom cotton seeds.

    • NS/S is also a great resource if you’re just interested in learning more about Arizona’s agricultural stories.  Read about the history of cotton in Arizona and Hopi short staple cotton.

    • Some public libraries allow people to check out seeds to plant in their home gardens (and you don’t have to bring them back!).  Does your local branch have a seed library?

    What happens after cotton has been picked?

    • First, the stems, burrs, and seeds need to be removed from the cotton boll.  This was done by hand for centuries until the cotton gin was developed, which sped up the process.  Learn more about Eli Whitney and the invention of the cotton gin here.

    • Second, the prepared fibers must be spun into yarn.  Originally, this would’ve been done by hand—you can try it yourself by gently pulling apart and twisting the fibers of a cotton ball!  For many centuries, in the Southwest and around the world, a tool called a spindle was used for this task.  A spindle is a special pointed stick with a “whorl,” a wooden or clay weight.  Many people still use hand spindles, as well as spinning wheels, to spin fibers into yarn today, but large factories have done this task by machine since the Industrial Revolution.

    • Yarn can be put together in different ways to create a textile—think about how a T-shirt (knit) is different from jeans (woven) or from a net (knotted).  The loom was introduced among the Hohokam and Mogollon peoples in modern-day Arizona after AD 700 (700 CE).  A loom is a framework on which fabric can be woven.  Weaving fabric on a loom was relatively easy and fast, so it became the most common way for pre-Columbian Southwestern peoples to make textiles.

    • You can make your own simple loom out of cardboard.  Check out this tutorial to find out how!

    Cotton is a hotly-debated topic in Arizona today.  Search online to find out what some of the viewpoints and arguments are.

    This 2017 article from Phoenix Magazine may be a good starting place, particularly for older students.

    • Why do individuals and groups have different points of view about the same subject?

  • #4: Cattle

    Getting Started

    Why do you write your name on your school assignments?  You do that so your teacher will know it’s your work.  Why do you put your name on your lunchbox and other belongings?  If something gets lost, it can be returned to you.  Those are the same reasons people have been branding cattle (cows and bulls) for more than 4000 years!

    Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés is thought to have been the first person to use a brand on his livestock in the Americas, in 1541.  A branding iron is, typically, an iron bar with a design at one end.  That end is heated up in a fire, then used to burn the design into the skin of a calf (a young cow or bull) when it is 3 to 6 months old.  Sometimes electric branding irons are used today, but the concept is the same.

    The federal government manages about 11.5 million acres of rangeland in Arizona which may be leased for livestock grazing (that is, letting domesticated animals eat grass).  Because cattle are often allowed to roam over many miles of land to graze, brands allow people to identify who owns the animals.

    Livestock brands need to be distinct but not too complicated, and they are registered with the government (you can browse former Brand Books and the current Brand Book).  It is against the law to alter or cover up someone else’s brand.  A trick of cattle thieves, or “rustlers,” was to modify a rancher’s brand with another iron.  (It’s kind of like when a student gets a True/False question wrong and, with one line, changes the T to an F, then tells the teacher they had the right answer all along!)

    This worksheet will teach you the language of brands, and then you’ll have the opportunity to design your very own brand!


    Cattle Worksheet

    Find Out More

    Want to see a real brand registration form?  Check out this one from 1901!  Alejandro L. “Alex” Silva was a successful farmer, warehouse owner, and rancher who owned the Orange Ranch in Glendale.  He and his family owned and lived in a house at 628 East Adams Street in Phoenix for many years.  Today that home, known as the Silva House, is part of Heritage Square.  Learn about the Silva family and explore more primary source documents through the Arizona Memory Project.

    Ranching in early Arizona was more diverse than a lot of old western movies show.  The first cowboys in the area were Native American and mestizo (mixed indigenous and Spanish ancestry) vaqueros, and according to some estimates, one in four cowboys was black, long before Lil Nas X came on the scene.

    • Nat Love (1854-1921) was born into slavery in Tennessee and became one of the most famous cowboys in the American West.  Love was a prize-winning rider, but he also had an excellent memory for brand designs, which made him invaluable on a cattle round-up.  He recorded his tales of life as a cowboy—including time spent in Arizona—in The Life and Adventures of Nat Love (1907).

    • Black cowboys continue to leave their mark on cattle ranching in Arizona.  Edward Keeylocko (1931-2018) was a cowboy, rancher, historian, storyteller, and founder of Cowtown Keeylocko, his own town and ranch in southern Arizona.  Watch this Arizona Public Media interview with Keeylocko from 1995 and find out why he decided to establish Cowtown Keeylocko.

    “Mounted on my favorite horse, my long horsehide lariat near my hand, and my trusty guns in my belt and the broad plains stretching away for miles and miles, every foot of which I was familiar with, I felt I could defy the world.  What man with the fire of life and youth and health in his veins could not rejoice in such a life?”

    — Nat Love, remembering his experiences as a cowboy in Arizona in 1874
    The Life and Adventures of Nat Love, page 70

  • #5: Copper

    Getting Started

    Look around you!  What can you see that is either made of copper or needs copper to work?  Copper was one of the first metals mined by humans and it continues to be essential to our lives today.

    Arizona has a lot of copper, but most of it is in the ground in the form of copper ore—rocks that have copper in them—that has to be mined and processed.  Arizona produces more copper than any other US state.

    How can we learn about people who lived and events that happened long ago?  One way is by studying primary sources.  A primary source gives an eyewitness account or firsthand evidence about a person, event, place, or thing.  The following worksheet uses primary sources to explore what mining was like in the Arizona Territory and the early years of statehood.


    Copper Worksheet

    Find Out More

    A folk song is a song that comes from the people of a country or area and is passed down from generation to generation.  Folk songs usually have a fairly simple tune, and they often tell a story.  Listen to the folk song “My Sweetheart Is a Mule in the Mines” here, sung by Pete Seeger and collected by the Smithsonian Institution (note: this song mentions tobacco use).

    • Do you think a song can be considered a primary source?  Why or why not?

    • What does “My Sweetheart Is a Mule in the Mines” tell us about the experiences of a miner and a mine mule?

    Did you know that many Arizona records are free to state residents on Ancestry.com, thanks to the Arizona State Archives?  Put in your ZIP code and start exploring!

    • Can you find out more about the mine worker Albert Fassel and his brother William?

    To learn more about mining in Arizona today and in the past, check out the Arizona Geological Survey website.

    For older students and adults, the 2018 documentary-western Bisbee ‘17 (directed by Robert Greene) takes a non-traditional approach to history and offers a riveting exploration of the 1917 Bisbee Deportation.  The film may be available from your local library, Amazon Prime Video, or ArizonaPBS Passport.  Primary sources and research questions about the Deportation are available from the Arizona State Library.

  • Arizona's State Seal

    Getting Started

    You have discovered so much about Arizona — about its history, its people, its economy, and more!  Plus, you have used primary sources to learn and make inferences about the past, just as historians do.  That’s fantastic!

    Now put that knowledge to the test with this worksheet on the Great Seal of the State of Arizona.  The 5 C’s are included in the state seal. . . Can you find them all?


    State Seal Worksheet

    Find Out More 

    The Arizona Library offers an almanac of all things Arizona, including the state flag and other state symbols.

    • Pick a topic that looks interesting to you and do some research. Then, write a report or a song, make a poster, or act out a skit to share your topic with others!

    The Office of the Secretary of State gives a comprehensive history of the Great Seal of Arizona.  Spoiler alert: some of the early designs were kind of terrible.

    Marshall Trimble’s article “A Race for The Copper Queen” from True West Magazine (10 May 2018) tells the fascinating and sad story of George Warren, inspiration for the miner on the state seal.

    • How has Warren been commemorated?  Are there any monuments in his honor or places named for him?

    Do you think you could outrun a horse?  No, you definitely should NOT try that at home!  Instead, see if you can run faster than someone on a hobby horse.  Don’t bet your valuable mine shares on it, though.

  • Why should I pay to borrow the Traveling Trunk when I already have access to these worksheets?

    Because there are more goodies in the actual Traveling Trunk!

    • Genuine artifacts, including a branding iron and a miner’s lamp
    • Cotton and copper samples
    • Laminated photographs, postcards, and other manipulatives
    • Detailed lesson plans with resources and suggestions for additional activities
  • How can I borrow the Traveling Trunk?

    Click here for more information!

The Arizona’s 5 Cs Traveling Trunk project was developed with the help of a generous grant from Kinder Morgan.  Many other individuals and organizations provided invaluable assistance, advice, and artifacts.  We would like to thank especially the Arizona Beef Council, the Arizona Mining, Mineral, and Natural Resources Education Museum, the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum, Calcot, Freeport McMoRan, the Justice Brothers Ranch, Marti Noland, and Diann Morris.

If you have used these resources and found them valuable, if you’ve found a broken link, or if you have other comments, concerns, or suggestions, please let us know.