This is a choose your own adventure type of activity. The goal of this activity is to introduce students to the hardships of both groups and the effects they had on each other. I also include vocabulary we will be discussing later in the unit such as Homestead Act, dry farming, range rights, soddy, and barbed wire.
Students may work individually or with partners/groups. I tend to have my students do it in partners so they can discuss their decisions. Some students even decide exactly which type of crops to grow or the name of their ranch.
It takes about 10-15 minutes to complete and a few minutes to discuss as a class.
Copy the worksheet page for farmers and ranchers and each of the three situations. You may also want to copy the introduction worksheet with the instructions on the bottom for each student/group.
Cut apart the situations, you may be able to reuse the situations from class to class if you have the students return them to you.