Life on the Great Plains

In this four-part lesson, students examine the concept of geographic region by exploring the history of the Great Plains. In Part I, students gather information about the location and environment of the Great Plains in order to produce a map outlining the region in formal terms. In Part II, students examine how the region has been mapped at different stages in U.S. history and create informational brochures which reflect the changes the maps mark in the functional definitions of the Great Plains. In Part III, students compare descriptions of the region, from the time of the Spanish conquistadors to the early 20th century, and write their own descriptions based on these models in order to gauge how changing perceptual definitions of a region reshape its identity and its relationship to human life. Finally, in Part IV, students compare images of two cultures that made their homes on the Great Plains, Native Americans and "sodbusters," and summarize their distinct ways of life and the distinctive regional identity each brought to the Great Plains by writing imaginary letters from a Native American and a sodbuster homesick for the land they have left behind.

Guiding Questions

No guiding questions

Learning Objectives

To explore the concept of region and learn how culture and experience influence the perception of regions

To investigate the relationships between physical geography and human systems of culture and settlement

To trace the history and character of a region as reflected in literature and art

To examine factors that influenced westward expansion in the United States