Lesson Plan

The Old Mormon Fort: Birthplace of Las Vegas, Nevada - A Teaching with Historic Places Lesson Plan

View of the east side of the Las Vegas Mormon Fort
View of the east side of the Las Vegas Mormon Fort
Las Vegas City Planning Department

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Grade Level:
Fifth Grade-Twelfth Grade
Subject:
Community, History, Religion, Westward Expansion
Duration:
Variable. Adaptable to teacher and student needs.
Group Size:
Up to 36
Setting:
indoors or outdoors
National/State Standards:
Relevant U.S. History Standards for Grades 5-12: Era 4 - Expansion and Reform (1801-1861) Standards 1C, 2E and 4C; Era 6 - The Development of the Industrial United States (1870-1900) Standards 1B, 1C and 4B
Keywords:
lesson plan, Teaching with Historic Places, The Old Mormon Fort, Nevada History, Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort, Westward Expansion, Mormon expansion, Las Vegas, Nevada, Helen Stewart, Mormon history, Las Vegas history, Community Development

Overview

Using the Las Vegas Mormon Fort in Nevada, this lesson plan allows students to describe why the Mormons came to Las Vegas, what they hoped to accomplish and what experiences they shared establishing an outpost. Students will use historic maps, readings, excerpts, photographs and drawings in order to describe the experience of Helen Stewart and other Mormons in the Las Vegas area.

Objective(s)

  1. To describe why the Mormons came to Las Vegas, what they hoped to accomplish, and what experiences they shared in establishing an outpost.  
  2. To list at least four factors--including the arrival of the Mormons--that influenced the stability and growth of the initial Las Vegas settlement into a permanent community and explain the importance of each to westward expansion. 
  3. To describe the experience of Helen Stewart, one of the first non-native women inhabiting the Las Vegas Valley, and outline her contributions to the area. 
  4. To research and report on the history of local historic places that help tell the story of their own community's origins and development.


Background

Information on how to use a Teaching with Historic Places Lesson Plan can be found here

Historical context for the lesson plan topic can be found in the lesson's Setting the Stage section.


Materials

  1. Three maps showing the western part of the U.S. and the location of the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort; 
  2. Three readings tracing the development of Las Vegas beginning with the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort; 
  3. Two excerpts from a missionary's letter and Helen Stewart's letters;  
  4. Four photographs showing how the fort changed over time and Helen Stewart; 
  5. One historical drawing of the area; 
  6. One historical painting of the fort.


Procedure

The Old Mormon Fort: Birthplace of Las Vegas, Nevada

Each Teaching with Historic Places lesson plan contains the following teaching activities: Getting Started (inquiry question), Setting the Stage (historical background), Locating the Site (maps), Determining the Facts (readings, documents, charts), Visual Evidence (photographs and other graphic documents), and Putting It All Together (activities). See Parts 2-7 for information about how to use these resources.

Click here to go directly to the lesson plan.

Getting Started

Begin this lesson by asking students to discuss possible answers to the inquiry question that accompanies the "Getting Started" image. Provide them with paper print-outs of the image and question, or direct them to the lesson plan website. To facilitate a whole class discussion, you may want to print or scan the image to make an overhead transparency or digital slide. The purpose of this exercise is to engage students' interest in the lesson's topic by raising questions that can be answered as they complete the lesson.

Rather than serving merely as an illustration for the text, the image is a document that plays an integral role in helping students achieve the lesson's objective. To assist students in learning how to "read" visual materials you may want to begin this section by having them complete the Photo Analysis Worksheet for one or more of the photos. The worksheet is appropriate for analyzing both historical and recent photographs and will help students develop a valuable skill.

Getting Started section for this lesson

Setting the Stage

This section is intended to be used, if necessary, as background material. Read this material aloud to students or summarize it, or provide them with paper print-outs, or direct them to the lesson plan website. If students have computers, you can direct them to the page on the website.

Setting the Stage section for this lesson

Locating the Site

Provide students with the maps and questions included in Locating the Site. You can give them paper print-outs or direct them to the lesson plan website. Have students work individually or in small groups to complete the questions. At least one map familiarizes the students with the historic site's location within the country, state or region. Extended captions may be included to provide students with information necessary to answer the questions.

Locating the Site section in this lesson

Determining the Facts

Provide students with copies of the readings, documents and/or charts included in this section or direct them to the lesson plan website. Allow students to work individually or in small groups. The series of questions that accompanies each of these readings is designed to ensure that students have gathered the appropriate facts from the material.

Determining the Facts section for this lesson

Visual Evidence: Images

Distribute the lesson's visual materials among students. Provide them with paper print-outs, or direct them to the lesson plan website. Have the students examine the photographs and answer the related questions. Note that two or more images may be studied together in order to complete the questions. Extended captions may be included to provide students with important information.

Rather than serving merely as illustrations for the text, the images are documents that play an integral role in helping students achieve the lesson's objectives. To assist students in learning how to "read" visual materials, you may want to begin this section by having them complete the Photo Analysis Worksheet for one or more of the photos.

Visual Evidence: Images section for this lesson

Putting It All Together

After students have completed the questions that accompany the maps, readings and visuals, they should be directed to complete one or more of the activities presented below. These activities engage students in a variety of creative exercises that help them synthesize the information they have learned and formulate conclusions. At least one activity leads students to look for places in their community that relate to the topic of the lesson. In this way students learn to make connections between their community and the broader themes of American history they encounter in their studies.

Putting It All Together section for this lesson

Assessment

Assessment is built into the lesson plan in the form of questions for all documents, including maps and images, and in the student products completed for step 7, Putting it All Together.

Additional Resources

Students and educators who want to know more can find sources of information (with links) here: Supplementary Resources.