Lesson Plan: Homesteading in North Dakota Lesson Plan G 4

Written By: Valerie Stockdale
Grade Level: 4

Time Allotment

Six sessions ranging from 20‐45 minutes.


The students will study the reasons for settlement in North Dakota, how the weather affected early settlers, and identify changes in living conditions since settlement occurred.

Subject Matter

Language Arts, Social Studies

Learning Objectives

Students will:
  • identify the changes in living conditions that have occurred in North Dakota since settlement occurred.
  • be able to identify reasons for settlement by European Americans in North Dakota
  • identify how the physical environment in North Dakota affected early settlement
  • use various art techniques to create an example of a traditional art form—quilt making.

Media Components - Video/Web

  1. Homesteading: Facing Disaster, (video clip from Homesteading), Prairie Public.
  2. Rivers, Roads, Rails, and Air (video), Prairie Public, 1996
  3. Bonanza Farms (video), Prairie Public, 2000
  4. Classic Quilts of Vermont


  • Media components listed above
  • Books:
    • The Log Cabin Quilt by Ronald Himler
    • The Quilt Story by Toby Johnston, and Tomie de Paola
    • The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco
  • Quilts
  • Pencils
  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Markers
  • Chart Paper
  • Venn Diagram worksheet

Teacher Preparation

  • Gather art materials
  • Create a Venn Diagram
  • Preview the videos
  • Gather books
  • Bookmark websites
  • Bring quilts
  • Display quilts

Introductory Activities

  • Homesteading: Facing Disaster, video clip
  • The Quilt Story, book
  • Word cards for ‘homesteaders’ and ‘covered wagon’
  • Chart paper and markers
  • Paper
  • Pencils
  1. Show the students the word ‘homestead’. Read the word. Ask the students what a homesteader is. Give the students a chance to respond. Tell them “A homesteader was someone who went to live somewhere where very few other people lived. They built a house and started a farm on land that no immigrant had lived on before.”
  2. Show the students the cover of the book The Quilt Story . Ask “What is on the cover? It is a covered wagon. It was one way homesteaders traveled to the new place they were going to make their home.” Read the story to the students.
  3. Play the video clip Homesteading: Facing Disaster. Direct the students to take notes while viewing the video clip about the problems that early homesteaders faced.
  4. Ask “What problems did the homesteaders face?” List the problems the students share on chart paper.
  5. Discuss which problem would be the hardest to overcome.

Learning Activities

  • Rivers, Roads, Rails, and Air (DVD)
  • Bonanza Farms (DVD)
  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Chart paper
  • Markers
  1. Explain to the students that they are going to learn two reasons homesteaders came to North Dakota to settle.
  2. Play the section called Peerless Transportation from the DVD Rivers, Roads, Rails, and Air. Direct the students to take notes on the benefits of railroads and how the railroads affected the number of homesteaders.
  3. Record the students’ observations on a chart.
  4. Watch the first 5 minutes of the video Bonanza Farms. After watching the video have the students tell ways Bonanza farms increased the settlement of North Dakota. Add these reasons to the chart.

Culminating Activity

  • Venn Diagram worksheet
    1. Students will work with a partner and use what they learned from watching the 3 videos to compare and contrast the lifestyle of homesteaders in North Dakota and the way we live now. The information will be recorded on a Venn diagram.
    2. Students will share their Venn diagrams with the class.

Cross-Curricular Activity

Creating a quilt square

  • Classic Quilts of Vermont (website)
  • Quilts
  • Pencils
  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Markers
  • The Log Cabin Quilt by Ronald Himler (book)
  • The Quilt Story by Toby Johnston, and Tomie de Paola (book)
  • The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco (book)
  • Session 1
    1. Explain that quilt making is a traditional kind of art that is done in many different cultures. Many homesteaders brought their traditional kind of quilting with them when they settled in North Dakota and other places in the United States.
    2. Read the book The Keeping Quilt. Discuss why the quilt was important to the family. Ask “What country was the family from? Was the family in the story homesteaders?”
    3. Remind the students of the story The Quilt Story. Ask “Were the people at the beginning of the story were homesteaders? Were the people at the end of the story homesteaders. Why or why not?”
  • Session 2
    1. Review the two stories from Session 1 focusing on the importance of the quilt in each story.
    2. Read the story The Log Cabin Quilt. Discuss if the people in the story are homesteaders. Ask the class “What do you think is the importance of the quilt in the story?”
    3. Explain to the students that quilts were made for many different reasons and by many groups of people.
    4. Show the students the quilts brought in by the teacher. Explain why the quilts were built and what they mean to the family. Discuss that many quilts are made up of quilt blocks. The quilt block came be identical or different to each other. Show examples.
    5. Direct the students to log on to the Classic Quilts of Vermont website and spend some time looking at the different designs.
  • Session 3
    1. Review what a quilt block is and why people make quilts
    2. Tell the students they are going to be making their own quilt block out of paper. Their quilt block will be 12X12 inches.
    3. Their quilt block should be designed so that it tells their life story. Discuss possible ways they could show their life story on a quilt block.
    4. If they can’t think of a way to show their life story they could recreate one of the quilt patterns from the books read, the sample quilts, or the Classic Quilts of Vermont website.

Community Connections

When the quilt blocks are finished display as a quilt on a wall in the hallway.

Student Handouts:

  1. Homesteading in North Dakota Lesson Plan
    • Download