Putting It All Together
The following activities will help students better understand the impact of the Homestead Act on this country's development. Students also will have the opportunity to learn about the contributions of important women in their community's history.
Activity 1: Homesteading
Divide students into groups of three or four and have each group research one state west of the Mississippi to determine in what ways the Homestead Act succeeded or failed there. Ask a spokesperson to summarize each group's findings for the class. Then hold a general class discussion emphasizing the similarities and differences of homesteading in the several states studied.
Activity 2: Homesteading in the Local Region
Ask students to define "Manifest Destiny" in their own words. Next, have them conduct research to determine what role, if any, Manifest Destiny and/or the Homestead Act played in the settlement of their community or region. Ask students to submit a short paper describing their findings.
Activity 3: Researching Important Women in Your Community's History
Have students work in small groups to prepare an exhibit that features an outstanding woman who lived (or lives) in their community. They should consider ways in which the woman exemplified or contradicted the prevailing social attitudes of the time. The exhibits should include pictures of the person, the places that represent her life, and sketches or examples of the activities that made this woman an important member of the local society. If possible, arrange for the exhibits to be displayed for other students in the school.