This 132-page unit presents the Early Settlement of North Dakota. Students are introduced to early forms of transportation, including the Red River cart, steamboats, stagecoaches, and the railroad. Students are also introduced to bonanza farms and cattle ranching in the Badlands, immigration, and pioneer life between 1870 and 1915.
Teacher Resource Guide
The purpose of this Teacher Resource Guide is to assist the teacher in teaching about the Early Settlement of North Dakota. It is intended to be interdisciplinary and to act as a guide to supplement other activities that may be used in the classroom. Review and discussion questions, vocabulary, and additional activities are included and available in print and CD-ROM versions of the Teacher Resource Guide for Early Settlement of North Dakota.
Have students create an ABC Alphabet Book on the Early Settlement of North Dakota (e.g., A = A One-Room School, B = Bonanza Farms, C = Cornhusk Dolls, etc.). Illustrate each page and share it with another classroom or place it in the school library. Extension: Substitute with other topics such as the One-Room School, Entertainment on the Prairie, etc. Note: A similar activity using the alphabet is explained under “Small Groups.”
Have students research and create a timeline in book form on the immigrants who came to North Dakota from various parts of the world.
Have students create an Early Settlement Glossary with illustrations and definitions that younger children in lower grades could understand. Have students share with others in the classroom or place it in the school library for use by other students.
Have students use vocabulary words to create a book or comic book of any part of the pioneer life in North Dakota. Include words, definitions, and illustrations.
Have students research the challenges of settling on the northern plains of North Dakota and choose one to write about. Before writing, have students complete a T-Chart (link below) listing the early settlers’ challenges on one side and their solutions to them on the other side (e.g., challenge—fuel was scarce; solution—burned dried manure). Discuss findings in small groups and as an entire class before having each student write and illustrate a fictional story based on what was researched and discussed.
Have students design and produce a 3-fold brochure on historical sites in North Dakota related to the early settlement era to be used for tourism.
Have students create a brochure advertising free land to any homesteader willing to settle and work the North Dakota prairie.
Have students (with help in the classroom or at home) create some of the following pioneer recipes:
Accessing International Morse Code, have students create their own message in Morse code on something they have learned about early settlers in North Dakota. Have students exchange their messages with classmates to decode.
To check their work, have students access Morse code Converter and type in their message to see if their code is correct.
Have students make their own corn husk doll by following the directions at Teachers First
Have students build their own covered wagon. Directions are found at About.com
Have students complete the following activity on creating their own town.
You have been asked to create a town on paper because you think the railroad is coming and will bring people there. Draw a detailed map or create a replica of the town you envision. Include buildings, streets, etc. On paper, describe it in detail.
- What will be included in the town?
- How many people do you expect to move there? What are things that will need to be considered before inviting people to come and settle there?
- Will the town have the chance of becoming just a “paper town”?
- What could people do to ensure the town stays alive?
- Who will be a major part of the town? Explain.
Have students debate (link for formal debate guidelines below) whether young people of today could do what the pioneer children were expected to do. Pioneer children learned to take on responsibilities early in life. They began to help around the homestead as soon as they were old enough to follow instructions. Small children were expected to feed the chickens, gather the eggs, weed the vegetable garden, and collect buffalo or cow chips for fuel. As they grew older, they joined in the heavier work of picking rocks, plowing and planting, tending livestock, hauling water, pitching hay, building cabins and fences, hunting and trapping, babysitting, cooking, sewing, mending, washing, and cleaning. In fact, by the age of 10, young children were considered capable of taking on many adult responsibilities.
Have students debate which of the following buildings was the most important to the settlers when starting a new town: train depot, post office, livery stable, blacksmith shop, general store, school, or church.
Have students debate the topic of immigration. Almost all North Dakotans who immigrated here came from other parts of the world. They were enticed by free land and a chance to build something that would be their own. Do we give new immigrants from other countries the same chance of success that our ancestors had when they moved from their homelands and settled on the prairies of North Dakota?
Using a box about the size of a shoe box, have students create a diorama of one of the following:
- A typical North Dakota family homestead, including a dugout, sod house, log cabin, or frame house, from the early settlement period of North Dakota;
- A typical small town in North Dakota during the early settlement years;
- A one-room schoolhouse, including the playground;
- A bonanza farm; or
- A large-scale ranching operation.
The Homestead Act stamp was created in 1962, and its value was 4¢. Its site follows. Have students create their own commemorative stamp depicting any area of early settlement.
Have students create a political cartoon addressing the situation of the new immigrants who settled in North Dakota from an American Indian point of view.
Have students create an iMovie, PowerPoint, movie, or other electronic media to illustrate and describe through text, animations, clip art, etc., the typical life of an early settler in North Dakota.
As a class, have students create a time capsule that describes the life of a fourth grader (any grade level would work) today by answering the following questions:
- What do you enjoy doing the most?
- What are your goals and dreams?
Have students place their journals in the time capsule with other artifacts that are important to them and their classmates. Have them write a letter explaining why they included these artifacts and put it in the capsule. Have them leave a letter with the principal of their school outlining when the capsule should be opened. It should remain unopened for at least 20 years.
Have students (individually, pairs, or small groups) write a significant event on an index card relating to the Early Settlement of North Dakota. Have them create a visual timeline by having them take turns placing the cards in the correct sequential order. Students creating the timeline should create an answer sheet to check for understanding by the students participating. Extension: Have students illustrate each significant event in addition to writing it.
Using a two-circled Venn Diagram, have students complete one or all of the following:
- Show the differences and similarities of the foods eaten by early settlers and the foods we eat today.
- Compare and contrast both land and water travel today with that of the early settlement period of North Dakota.
- Compare and contrast farming during the early settlement period with today. Research the machinery, methods, and tools used for each time period.
- Write down the types of games and toys pioneer children played with and compare and contrast them with what children of today play with.
- Compare and contrast going to school during the years of early settlement with going to school today.
- Compare and contrast the role of women during pioneer times with women of today.
- Compare and contrast bonanza farming and huge cattle ranching during the settlement of North Dakota.
Use the Early Settlement of North Dakota vocabulary words as spelling words.
Suggestions for use:
- Have students divide a sheet of paper by folding it into thirds. In the first column, have them write a vocabulary word followed by any information about the word in the second column and a memory clue (e.g., drawing, symbol) in the third column to aid them in remembering the word.
- Have students write vocabulary or spelling words in Morse code. To check their work, access the following site and type in their word(s) for an instant read-out in Morse code.
Using Education World, have students work on a cooperative web quest entitled Save Our Schoolhouse.
Heritage Education Commission gives history of bonanza farms in North Dakota.
National Park Service has a narrative about bonanza farming, excerpts from a diary written by Mary Dodge Woodward of Fargo, and questions to answer after reading the information.
North Dakota State University provides information and pictures on history, culture, textiles, and clothing.
North Dakota State University covers the Assimilation of German-Russian and Norwegian Immigrants: A Comparison of North Dakota Pioneers. This site would be used for researching these two ethnic groups and the role they played in North Dakota history.
North Dakota State University exhibit of Fred Hultstrand History in Pictures Collection.
Library of Congress shows several original photos of Hultstrand’s farm life in Fairdale, North Dakota, during the time of early settlement.
North Dakota State University shows five original photographs taken at various locations in North Dakota of families and their sod houses.
OurStory is an interactive site where students are asked to choose a spot and build their own sod house.
Pioneer Trails Regional Museum shows actual photos of the building of a sod house in 2006. It shows the process step by step, so the viewers can see exactly how a sod house was constructed.
Morse Code Translator allows the user to type in any message and the translator automatically writes it in Morse code. Or the user can type Morse code into the top box using “.” for a dot and “-” or “_” for a dash. Letters are separated by spaces and words by “/” or “|”. When the user hits the “Translate” button, the program will translate the Morse code into plain text. If it cannot translate a letter it will place a “?” in the output. This site is great for learning Morse code. Extension: Spelling words could also be practiced by writing them in Morse code and exchanging them with a partner.
International Morse Codeis recommended for learning Morse code, as it refers to a dot as “dit” and a dash as “dah.”
Morse Code Converter converts any written text into Morse code.
Campsilos gives information on and an introduction to pioneer farming. The site refers to Iowa, but a lot of what is shared fits North Dakota pioneer farming.
Illinois State Museum shows items for food preparation that were used in the prairie homes.
Picturing Prairie Life, contains several real photos of life on the prairie. Participants are asked to choose the picture they think best illustrates the life of settlers on the prairie. This would be an excellent site for descriptive writing.
Using the photos from Picturing Prairie Life, Center for Children & Technology has students creating a Lantern Slide Show. Students are asked to choose five pictures that would fit their viewpoint from that of a journalist, land speculator, or prairie mother to create a slide show.
Illinois State Museum shows furniture found on the prairie from 1800–1850, with a brief description given for each item. The site is from Illinois; however, some of the furniture would be relevant to North Dakota as well.
About.com shows the history of American farming from 1776–1990. It gives the reader a timeline telling how farming techniques have changed throughout the years. It is an interesting site.
North Dakota State University displays several original photos of North Dakota living. It provides brief narratives (i.e., rural schools, barbershop, etc.) about the time of early settlement.
Oracle ThinkQuest is very informative about pioneers in general. It is interactive and includes several hyperlinked questions students can click on to find the answers and usually includes pictures for clarification. Informative site!
Oracle ThinkQuest has many links on pioneers; it is titled Pioneer Life in America. It includes such areas as life, town, hardships, activities, quizzes, etc.
American Studies at the University of Virginia: Early Roads does not contain any information on North Dakota; rather, it gives a history of the early railroads in the United States. Illustrations and brief narratives are included.
Hansen Wheel and Wagon Shop gives the viewer two photos of an authentic stagecoach.
Women on the Prairie
Center for Children & Technology exposes students to women at the turn of the century (1900–1920) and tells about their expanding social roles. Historical documents are available at this site to use in learning more about women of this time period.
EdHelper.com gives a brief narrative of what a woman’s life was like on the prairie.
Literature for Classroom Use
|Bedard, M.||The Divide
|Bouchard, D.||If You’re not from the prairie…
|Chambers, C.E.||Frontier Dream: Life on the Great Plains
|Freedman, R.||Children of the Wild West
|Graves, K. A.||Going to School in Pioneer Times
|Harvey, B.||My Prairie Christmas
|My Prairie Year: Based on the Diary of Elenore Plaisted
|Kalman, B.||A One-Room School
|King, D.C.||Wild West Day
|Knight, A.S.||The Way West: Journal of a Pioneer Woman
|Levine, E.||…If Your Name Was Changed at Ellis Island
|Love, D.A.||Dakota Spring
|MacLachlan, P.||Sarah, Plain and Tall
|Moss, M.||Rachel’s Journal
|Turner, A.||Dakota Dugout
|Van Leeuwen, J.||Going West
|Williams, D.||Grandma Essie’s Covered Wagon
|Plains Humanities Alliance gives an annotated bibliography of Great Books of the Great Plains: North Dakota, compiled by David Martinson, English Lecturer, North Dakota State University, and Thomas Isern, History Professor, North Dakota State University.|
|SHS Museum Store is from the State Historical Society, and it gives a list of children’s books found in their museum store.|
|Amazon gives a list of almost 200,000 children’s literature books with the word “pioneer” in the title. There are many useful books included for the topic of early settlement.|