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overview prep for teachers steps: class one class two extensions

Preparation for Teachers

Prior to teaching the lesson, bookmark and become familiar with all web sites. Copy all web quests, survey forms and tally sheets. Set up cooperative learning groups with assigned (or student chosen) roles. Download "Do You Have What It Takes to be a Pioneer?" quiz from the site and make enough copies for each of your students.

When using media, provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, a specific task to complete and/or information to identify during or after viewing of video segments, Web sites or other multimedia elements.

Introductory Activity

The following activities will prepare students for the lesson and activate prior knowledge.

Step 1. After completing a social studies unit about Reconstruction, ask students if they have ever wished they had been born in a different time in history. Share some of the student ideas. Ask how many students might consider spending a day, a week, or a month as a settler in the West during the 19th century.

Ask students to recall what they learned about the events of the mid-1800s. Ask students to give a brief overview of the time after the war. What exactly was happening in our nation at this time? Responses should include:
  • American industry grew, as well as the cities that housed the industry.
  • Asian immigrants worked on the transcontinental railroad.
  • Millions of immigrants arrived in the U.S. to create better lives.
  • The railroad linked the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
  • New inventions changed everyday life (the telegraph, for example).
  • Offers of free or low-cost land brought settler to the Great Plains.
  • Mining towns developed and people moved west to find fortunes.
  • Indians lost their homelands and were forced on reservations.
Ask students to brainstorm what life would have been like during this time period. Glean information about how people traveled, how and what they ate, how they fed their families, what types of dwellings were available, what (if any) conveniences were used, and how people were entertained. Responses should include:
  • Travel by foot or horse and wagon
  • Hunting, farming and raising livestock
  • Building log and sod houses
  • Sewing, playing music, reading the Bible
Step 2. Tell students that they are about to see if they have what it takes to be a settler. Tell students to anonymously and honestly fill out the survey called "Do You Have What It Takes to be a Pioneer?" (download quiz from the site

Choose one student (may be the recorder within each cooperative group) to record responses on the tally sheet (give one tally sheet to each table group). Pass out quiz and tally sheets. While students take the quiz on paper, access the online quiz from your "bookmarks" or "favorites" list (

Provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, telling students that they will be analyzing the information from the online quiz to determine what areas are strong points for the class as a whole and what areas need improvement in order to be competent settlers.

Choose the most popular class response to each question on the quiz and enter the results on the Web site. Discuss and analyze the outcome with students. Do they feel that the class as a whole would be prepared to make such a journey? What areas might need improvement? (Discussion will vary according to student responses.)

Step 3. Now do a quick Think, Pair, Share activity. Pass out scrap paper to each student. Tell students you will give them a question to ponder, and they will be given a few minutes to do some brainstorming on their own, and that they will record their thoughts on this paper (this is the "think" portion of the activity).

Then, students will turn to their neighbor to collaborate (this is the "pair" portion of the activity). Next, they will Share all thoughts with their group. Finally, groups will share their thoughts with the whole class.

The question students will be answering is, "If you were going to live off the land as a pioneer in after the Civil War, list ten things you would take on your adventure."

Remind students that as they collaborate and share ideas they will be fine-tuning their lists. Prompt student thinking with questions to consider. For example, ask what natural resources might be available and what equipment would be needed for extracting those resources. What foods might exist locally and how would that food be attained? What are transportation options? What obstacles might be present? What weather conditions might exist?

Tell students to keep the lists so they may revisit and evaluate them after the lessons. (It will be interesting to see what the students find "necessary" in the beginning and what they will find "necessary" to take along after they have experienced the novel and the web site.)

Tell students that in the next lesson they will read (hear) a story about a girl who does have what it takes to be a settler but doubts the fact that she can function in--or even understand--today's world.

End of Class 1

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