1850 - 1874    Activities and Lesson Plans

Click below for printable lesson plans and activities by module.
The Kansas-Nebraska
Act
Native Americans
& Settlers
African American
Settlers
HOMESTEAD ACT SIGNED:
The Challenges of the Plains            Who Were the Settlers?
Beef Moves to Nebraska Railroads & Settlement J. Sterling Morton

This page contains links to all the activities and lesson plans for the 1850-1874 unit, targeted at 4th, 8th, and 12th grade levels of achievement.

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  Click here for a printable Resources document with worksheets to help students evaluate primary sources, artifacts, etc.

All activities and lesson plans are based on the Nebraska Department of Education Academic Standards for Social Studies and History and occasionally for cross-disciplines as well. The activities and lesson plans correlate and link back to the materials contained in "nebraskastudies.org".

THE KANSAS-NEBRASKA ACT
GRADE
LEVEL
LESSON PLAN
/ACTIVITY
STORIES
K
S
-
N
E

A
C
T
    ACTIVITIES  
4-8-12
ACTIVITY 1: Nebraska Maps MAP ANALYSIS
Where is NE Territory?
8-12
ACTIVITY 2: Impact of Act on Native Americans DISCUSSION
Kansas-NE Act
8
ACTIVITY 3: Stephen A. Douglas PHOTO ANALYSIS
Kansas-NE Act
12
ACTIVITY 4: Nebraska Geographic Formation MAP ANALYSIS
Where is NE Territory?
NATIVE AMERICANS AND SETTLERS
GRADE
LEVEL
LESSON PLAN
/ACTIVITY
STORIES
N
A
T
I
V
E

A
M
E
R
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C
A
N
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    ACTIVITIES  
4-8
ACTIVITY 1: Native Crops DISCUSSION
Pawnee, Omaha, Oto-Missouria
4-8
ACTIVITY 2: Earth lodge Construction DRAWING
Architecture of Lodges
4-8
ACTIVITY 3: Native American View DISCUSSION
Conflict with Europeans
12
ACTIVITY 4: Settler v. Native American Homes PHOTO ANALYSIS
Earth Lodges & Tepees
12
ACTIVITY 5: Tepees v. Earth lodges DISCUSSION
Earth Lodges & Tepees
8
Our Perspective of the Homestead Act
LESSON PLAN: Students will analyze the Native American's point of view of the Homestead Act by writing a letter to the editor of the local newspaper.
Native Americans
& Settlers

AFRICAN AMERICAN SETTLERS
GRADE
LEVEL
LESSON PLAN
/ACTIVITY
STORIES
A
F
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A
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A
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    ACTIVITIES  
4-8
ACTIVITY 1: African Americans Settle in Nebraska DISCUSSION
African American Settlers
4-8
ACTIVITY 2: Shores Family Photo PHOTO ANALYSIS
Shores & Speese Family
12
ACTIVITY 3: African Americans in Nebraska DISCUSSION
African American Settlers
12
ACTIVITY 4: Exodusters & the Civil War DISCUSSION
African American Settlers
12
ACTIVITY 5: African Americans in Western Nebraska DISCUSSION
Where Did African Americans Live?
8
African American Homesteaders
LESSON PLAN: Students will analyze why African Americans settled in Nebraska and what challenges they faced. Students will compare and contrast the growth and distribution of African Americans in the latter part of the 19th century and early part of the 20th century with the 21st century in Nebraska, using primary documents and images.
African American Settlers

HOMESTEAD ACT SIGNED:
THE CHALLENGES OF THE PLAINS
GRADE
LEVEL
LESSON PLAN
/ACTIVITY
STORIES
*
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O
M
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S
T
E
A
D

A
C
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C
H
A
L
L
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N
G
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*
*
    ACTIVITIES  
4-8
ACTIVITY 1: Great American Desert MAP ANALYSIS
Great American Desert
4-8
ACTIVITY 2: Geographic Factors PHOTO ANALYSIS
Building a Sod House
4-8
ACTIVITY 3: Snakes and Sod Houses DISCUSSION
Rain, Snow, etc.
4-8
ACTIVITY 4: Cow Chips PHOTO ANALYSIS
Keeping Warm
4-8-12
ACTIVITY 5: Pioneer Lunch DISCUSSION
What's for Lunch?
12
ACTIVITY 6: Reminiscences WRITTEN DOCUMENT ANALYSIS
Living in a Sod House
12
ACTIVITY 7: Native American & European
                Views of Maps
MAP ANALYSIS
How the Land was Divided
12
ACTIVITY 8: Geography & Sod Houses PHOTO ANALYSIS
Building a Sod House
12
ACTIVITY 9: Compare Diaries WRITTEN DOCUMENT ANALYSIS
Weather on the Plains
8
Letters from the Plains
LESSON PLAN 1: Students will research and analyze original letters from the Oblingers, and then present information on Nebraska history in a role-playing "talk show" scenario.
Female Homesteaders
8
Has the Look of NE Changed from 1819 to the 21st Century?
LESSON PLAN 2: Students will analyze and compare maps of early Nebraska.
Challenges of the Plains
6-8
Watermelons!
LESSON PLAN 3: Students will understand the origins and the different uses made of watermelons by pioneer children and children today, conduct a search for photographs of watermelons, and plan a community activity, contacting a local watermelon vendor for watermelon information or inviting family members to class to participate in a student-led watermelon presentation.
Watermelons!

HOMESTEAD ACT SIGNED:
WHO WERE THE SETTLERS?
GRADE
LEVEL
LESSON PLAN
/ACTIVITY
STORIES
*
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H
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A
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S
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*
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    ACTIVITIES  
4-8
ACTIVITY 1: Proving Up Form DISCUSSION
Proving
Up Form
8-12
ACTIVITY 2: Homestead Act & Claim Requirements DISCUSSION
How Do I Get My Free Land?
4-8
ACTIVITY 3: Daniel Freeman & Beatrice DRAW A MAP
Daniel Freeman
4-8-12
ACTIVITY 4: Children's Daily Activities DISCUSSION
Pioneer Children
4-8-12
ACTIVITY 5: Who Were the Chrisman Sisters? DISCUSSION &
PHOTO ANALYSIS
Chrisman Sisters
4-8-12
ACTIVITY 6: Mattie Oblinger's Letters WRITTEN DOCUMENT
ANALYSIS
Female Homesteaders
4-8
ACTIVITY 7: Homesteaders & an Organ PHOTO ANALYSIS
Games, Toys, & Recreation
4-8
ACTIVITY 8: Railroad Poster DRAW POSTER
Czechs Move to NE
4-8-12
ACTIVITY 9: Why Do People Immigrate to the U.S.? MAP ANALYSIS
& DISCUSSION
Immigrant Experience
12
ACTIVITY 10: Family Tree CREATE FAMILY TREE
Who Were the Settlers?
3-5
Who Were the Settlers?
LESSON PLAN 1: Students will analyze why people move from one country or area to another, and the culture and lifestyles of people pictured in designated Butcher photographs. Students will also examine and describe the daily experiences of the early settlers.
Who Were the Settlers?
4
Comparing Family Photos
LESSON PLAN 2: Students will compare and contrast a past settler's photo (Rawding family) to a student's family photo, and then, identify why historical family pictures contained different items than present-day family pictures do.
Analyze a Family Photo
7-8
Games Children Play
LESSON PLAN 3: Students will recognize similarities and differences between games played by pioneer children and games played by children today, use the Internet to research children's games, and will plan a cooperative activity.
Games, Toys, & Recreation
8-12
The Homestead Act Brings Settlers to Nebraska
LESSON PLAN 4: Students will evaluate how the Homestead Act fostered settlement in Nebraska after the Civil War, and will write a newspaper headline and article, based on their interpretation of how the Homestead Act influenced settlement in Nebraska.
African American Settlers
12
Female Homesteaders
LESSON PLAN 5: Students will analyze the role females played in the settlement of Nebraska, and will evaluate the difficulties women faced in homesteading here.
Female Homesteaders

BEEF MOVES TO NEBRASKA
GRADE
LEVEL
LESSON PLAN
/ACTIVITY
STORIES
*
*
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B
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F

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4
Cattle Drives
LESSON PLAN 1: Students will apply the information they have learned from viewing the videos, reading literature sources, and researching the Internet to demonstrate their knowledge of cattle drives, cattle trails, and the significance of barbed wire.  Using map skills, students will develop an understanding of the importance of cattle trails and the jobs involved in a successful cattle drive.
Texas Cattle
Drives
8
The "Beef Issue"
Native American Beef Rations on the Reservation

LESSON PLAN 2: Using primary source newspapers from 1875, students will read articles about the "beef issue" and recognize the points of view of both Native Americans and the U.S. government toward each other and the distribution of beef. Students will also understand the concept of one culture using the food supply to control another.
"Beef Issue"
BEEF Lesson Plans from Other Timelines
1875-1899
High Falutin’
Beef
1900-1924
Reforming
Beef
1925-1949
Beef Goes
Modern
1950-1974
Beef
State
2000-2024
Nebraska Beef
Goes Global

RAILROADS AND SETTLEMENT
GRADE
LEVEL
LESSON PLAN
/ACTIVITY
STORIES
*
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A
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    ACTIVITIES  
4-8-12
ACTIVITY 1: Railroad Maps MAP ANALYSIS
Railroads & Settlement
4-8-12
ACTIVITY 2: Railroads & Settlement DISCUSSION
Railroads & Settlement
4-8-12
ACTIVITY 3: Railroads & Freight DISCUSSION
Railroads & Settlement
4
ACTIVITY 4: Nebraska Railroads Map DRAW MAP
Railroads & Settlement
8-12
ACTIVITY 5: Native Americans & the Railroads DISCUSSION
Railroads & Settlement
12
ACTIVITY 6: Railroads & Government DISCUSSION
Land Grants
12
ACTIVITY 7: Geography & Railroad Construction MAP ANALYSIS
Railroads & Settlement
3-5
The Railroad Booms!
LESSON PLAN 1: Students will participate in a small group discussion, trace the route taken by the Union Pacific Railroad across the Nebraska Territory, analyze the interrelationships among railroads, towns and homesteads, and compare and contrast the effects railroads and/or rivers had on early settlements with those that roads have on the location of today‘s communities.
Railroads & Settlement
8
Why Do You Live Where You Do?
LESSON PLAN 2: Students will determine reasons why settlers purchased land from the railroads and why they live in their present community. Students will also study what factors determined where settlers lived and where their families live.
Railroads & Settlement
8-12
The Railroads and Settlement of the Great Plains
LESSON PLAN 3: Students will analyze the role played by local, state, and federal governments in helping build a transcontinental railroad as well as the negative and positive influences the railroads had on western settlement. Students will also compare and contrast the Homestead Act with the Pacific Railway Act and will assess the impact building railroads had on Native Americans and immigrants.
Why Buy Land When You Can Get It for Free?

NOTABLE NEBRASKAN
J. STERLING MORTON
GRADE
LEVEL
LESSON PLAN
/ACTIVITY
STORIES
*
M
O
R
T
O
N

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4
A Life of Service
LESSON PLAN: Students will locate electronic sources on J. Sterling Morton, identify examples of J. Sterling Morton's contributions to his family, community, state, and nation, interpret sources to determine most important contributions, and create visual symbols for these contributions. Students will then arrange their symbols to create a puzzle with the state of Nebraska as background.
Founder of Arbor Day

Click below to access Activities and Lesson Plans
from all the eras on nebraskastudies.org.
Pre-
1500
1500
to
1799
1800
to
1849
1850
to
1874
1875
to
1899
1900
to
1924
1925
to
1949
1950
to
1974
1975
to
1999
2000
to
2024

 




















































Click below for a listing of individual activities, grade levels, & related stories.
KS-NE
Act
N.A.
& Settlers
African Am. Settlers
HOMESTEAD ACT:
Challenges Settlers
Beef Moves Railroads
Morton