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overview prep for teachers steps: class one class two extensions

Culminating Activity

Step 1. Regardless of which way they chose to travel, homesteaders faced difficult decisions as they prepared to leave for the frontier. Wagons, riverboats, and railroads each presented unique challenges to travelers. For the next activity, students will have an opportunity to make choices similar to those made by homesteaders preparing to leave for the frontier.

Divide your class into groups of 4-5 students. Ask each group to decide how they would like to travel to the frontier, based on the information from the essay, the supply list, and the interactive activity.

Step 2. Distribute the appropriate Traveler's Bankbook and Freight Roster (see attached) to each group, based on their chosen mode of transportation. Also distribute a Homestead Inventory envelope (see attached) to each group. Ask each group to open their envelope and determine what they would take to the frontier, based on a) necessity, b) costs, and c) freight restrictions. They should record the items they want to bring, their cost, and their weight on their Traveler's Bankbook.

Step 3. Let students debate and decide what objects they would like to take to their new homesteads for 20-25 minutes. After students have decided, ask students what they chose to take. What items seemed to be the most important? What items seemed superfluous? Did any of the groups regret the way they had chosen to travel? Why?


The supply list examined in this lesson is taken from a letter from James Fergus to his wife Pamelia. Pamelia was to bring three wagons, loaded with supplies, to Montana.

As a final assessment of this lesson, provide your students with the hypothetical situation below and ask them to respond to it. Students should use the information they gathered in the lesson and cite specific examples in their responses.

Ask your students to imagine that Pamelia was only able to secure two wagons, and that some of the supplies she has purchased must be left behind. Tell your students to write a persuasive letter to Pamelia, advising her on the items that she should eliminate.

Pamelia has also been considering whether or not she should take the steamboat to Montana. Ask your students to advise her on this decision.

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