At home in our house and a sod at that! ... It is not quite so convenient as a nice frame, but I would as soon live in it as the cabins I have lived in... It looks real well.

— Mattie Oblinger, May 19, 1873, from American Memory

Mattie Oblinger's letter from the Nebraska frontier conveys the pride American settlers felt for the sod houses that became an emblem of their pioneer spirit. In this lesson, students examine photographs of sod houses, build a model sod house, and picture themselves living in a "soddie" to gain a firsthand perspective on this important period of American history.

Guiding Questions

Where did American pioneers live?

What did their homes look like?

Who built their homes and what materials did they use?

Learning Objectives

Identify where and when American settlers lived.

Describe how settlers used available materials to build sod houses.

Explain how sod houses helped settlers adapt to the environment of the plains.

Compare living in a sod house with life in a typical home today.