This content is no longer being updated. As a result, you may encounter broken links or information that may not be up-to-date. For more information contact us.



Most trails into Idaho led out of Idaho. But eventually, people began to settle here. Homesteading looks at the lifestyle of ten year olds as Idaho moved from territory to statehood. Homesteading also looks at modem developments and their links to transportation and tourism.


After viewing Homesteading, students will be able to:

  1. Describe the way early Idaho settlers traveled here and the difficulties they faced, both along the trail and once they settled.
  2. Explain why people decided to stay in Idaho.
  3. Describe what early settlers' lifestyles were like and how these changed as Idaho became a state.
  4. Recognize that people continue to move to Idaho to improve their lifestyle, the same reason many of the first homesteaders came here.

wagonHomesteading takes students from the 1860s to statehood and beyond. It also looks at the development of tourism and improvements in transportation links used by today's "homesteaders."

It begins with the host, Phyllis Edmundson, at Register Rock in the City of Rocks. The program starts with a review of the lifestyle of ten year olds in the 1860s and 1870s. It discusses the Homestead Act and the hardships faced by the first settlers. Attitudes changed and the educational system developed as Idaho moved toward statehood.

The video examines this evolution as well as what impact the coming of electricity and other technological advances had on the life of residents.

The last section of the video discusses newer "homesteaders" and improvements in transportation. The states economy grew and new industries like tourism developed. That discussion is highlighted by a look at Sun Valley, Idaho's first tourist resort. The video concludes with Phyllis at the City of Rocks.


(Before Viewing)

  1. Have students do a comparison chart showing how their life is both similar to and different from the lives of pioneer children.
  2. Review a map of the Oregon Trail in relation to the students' home. Discuss how pioneers would have come to the students' area, and how long it would have taken them to get there from St. Louis.
  3. Discuss the Homestead Act.
  4. Have students list the ways people traveled around Idaho and some of the problems they would have faced.

(During Viewing)

  1. Why do you think so many people moved West?
  2. Is there a wagon trail near where you live?
  3. What do you think those first schools were like?
  4. When did your parents or grandparents first come to Idaho?
  5. Do you know why they came here?

Census - A survey conducted every ten years to count the population
Homestead Act -A law passed by Congress that allowed people to acquire land in the West by living on it and improving it


(After Viewing)

  1. How is your life different from that of children in the late 1800s?
  2. How would improvements in transportation change the course of history? How would it change people's lives?
  3. Why did homesteaders first come to Idaho? Why do people come to Idaho today?
  1. Have students write a story in which their families travel from Independence, Mo. to their home town. Select some interesting points along the way that they must include in their story. Stress the importance of solving the problems they would have faced in such a journey.
  2. Have students pick a resource based product, i.e., gold, timber, food, and list all the jobs that are created in getting that product from beginning to end.
  3. Select one town in Idaho. Have the class research how that town has changed since it was founded.

Pack Your Wagon

  1. Give each student a copy of the wagon supply list and have them select what items they would pack for a four month trip along the Oregon Trail to Idaho. There is room on the sheet for two of the student's own possessions. Have them estimate the BWU (Bulk Weight Units) of their own possessions.
  2. Mark off an area on the floor with tape. This will be the class' covered wagon. Have the class work together to decide what will go in the wagon. Cut out squares, circles and other shapes to represent each item. Each student may bring one personal possession. Then, pack the wagon. Once the students have filled out their wagon supply lists or once the class has "packed" its wagon, ask questions like:
    1. "Do you have enough candles for the trip?"
    2. "How much food do you think it will take to get you to Idaho? Don't forget you'll need food while you're getting settled in your new home."
    3. Have the students evaluate their selections.
    4. Next, pose different problems to the students and see how they would change their selections. Ask questions like,
    5. "You have to go over a mountain and must give up 100 lbs. of weight. What will you leave behind?"or 'Thieves stole half your food supply. What are you going to do?" If students are using shapes to represent goods, take them off the "wagon." If the students are using the work sheet, cross the goods off their list. Have students calculate what would remain on their wagon by the time they arrived in Idaho.

*The supply list was taken from the game "Pioneers." The "Pioneer simulation kit" is available from INTERACT, P.O. Box 997, Lakeside, CA 92040. It is reprinted with their permission.