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Cross-Curricular Extensions


Write diary entries for a homesteader of the late nineteenth century. What were their thoughts and feelings?

Read Laura Ingalls Wilder's BY THE SHORES OF SILVER LAKE for to examine the process of filing a homestead claim in Dakota Territory in 1880.

Find the actual text of the Homestead Act online and examine it. How specific is it?


A homestead was 160 acres. How large is an acre? Measure off an acre of land at your school or in a nearby park. Determine how large 160 acres is.

Research the number of square acres in the continental United States. If each family in the United States were given one acre of land, would there be enough land to go around? Why or why not?


Research the available technology in the year 1883. What conveniences would have been available to homesteaders in that year?


Research the life and art of Harvey Dunn, an important painter of homestead life.


Invite a surveyor into your classroom. How do they measure distances and land areas?

Visit your local history museum or society, and investigate the earliest European settlers of your area. Who were they? How did they live? What was their culture like?

Homesteaders made their claims in hopes of someday owning their own land and homes. What does it take to buy a home today? Visit a real estate office or bank to learn about the home buying process.

About the Author
Christopher W. Czajka is a Historical Consultant for FRONTIER HOUSE. He also serves as the Associate Director of the National Teacher Training Institute (NTTI), an educational initiative of Thirteen/WNET New York that teaches educators across the country strategies for incorporating PBS programming, instructional media, and emerging technologies into classroom curriculum. To learn more about NTTI, and to explore more media-rich lessons, visit NTTI Online (

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