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Nebraska Guide

Nebraska is located in the Midwestern region of the United States and is bordered by South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming. Nebraska's landscape includes the Great Plains, sand dunes (Sandhills region), and river valleys. The state has more miles of river than any other state in the country! A state research project is the perfect summative activity for any U.S. Region, Geography class, or general research unit of study. Students will love learning about state landmarks, mottos, fun facts, history, and so much more! Research is an important skill for children to learn at a young age; it exposes students to expository text, gives them practice determining important information, and enhances note taking and presentation skills. Students will enjoy learning all about Nebraska, and why it is such a wonderful place to live and visit.

Student Activities for Nebraska Teacher Guide

Essential Questions for Nebraska

  1. What are some significant events in the history of Nebraska?
  2. What are some facts and features that make Nebraska unique?
  3. What are some interesting places in Nebraska that people would want to visit?

All About Nebraska

Date of Statehood: March 1, 1867 (37th state)

State Motto: Equality Before the Law

State Nickname: Cornhusker State

State Bird: Western Meadowlark

State Tree: Eastern Cottonwood

State Flower: Goldenrod

Tourist Attractions: Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, Toadstool Geologic Park, Chimney Rock, Carhenge, Cowboy Trail, the Archway, Scotts Bluff National Monument

Famous Citizens of Nebraska: Fred Astaire, Gerald Ford, Marlon Brando, Warren Buffett, Andy Roddick, Malcolm X, Hilary Swank

Capital City: Lincoln

Major Cities: Omaha, Bellevue, Grand Island, Kearney, Fremont

Brief History of Nebraska

Ancient Peoples: Various Native American tribes, including the Paleo-Indians, lived in the area that is now Nebraska for thousands of years. These early inhabitants were primarily hunter-gatherers. By the time Europeans arrived, the region was inhabited by several Native American tribes, including the Omaha, Ponca, Pawnee, Otoe, and Sioux. These tribes were primarily semi-nomadic, relying on both agriculture and hunting.

European Exploration and Settlement: In 1541, Spanish explorer Francisco Vázquez de Coronado leads an expedition through the Great Plains, including parts of present-day Nebraska, in search of the mythical Seven Cities of Gold. Years later, in 1682, French explorer Robert Cavelier de La Salle claims the region for France as part of the Louisiana Territory.

U.S. Territory: In 1803, the United States acquires Nebraska as part of the Louisiana Purchase from France. Between 1804 and 1806, the Lewis and Clark Expedition passes through Nebraska, mapping the territory and establishing relations with Native American tribes.

Migration and Settlement: The Oregon Trail, which runs through Nebraska, becomes a major route for westward migration between 1843 and 1869. Fort Kearny is established in 1848 to protect travelers on the trail. In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act creates the Nebraska Territory, opening the area to settlement and allowing the territories to decide on the legality of slavery through popular sovereignty. Omaha is established as the territorial capital.

Statehood and Development: Nebraska is admitted to the Union as the 37th state on March 1, 1867 with Lincoln as its capital. During this time, and over the next several years, the construction of the transcontinental railroad, including the Union Pacific Railroad, greatly facilitates settlement and economic development. The railroad results in a huge influx of settlers, including many European immigrants. Agriculture, especially cattle ranching and crop farming, becomes the backbone of the state's economy.

The 20th Century: When the Kincaid Act is passed in 1904, settlers are allowed to claim larger homesteads in western Nebraska, and the area becomes more settled and developed. In the 1930s, the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl lead to economic hardship and significant numbers of people leaving the area. The post World War II era brought economic growth and recovery, and Nebraska’s agricultural output contributes a great deal to the war effort.

Students will create a historical timeline, a postcard, a spider map, and a fun facts storyboard showing what they have learned about Nebraska. Creating these visuals gives the students the opportunity to show their creativity and their unique view of the state that they have researched. In addition, the combined use of words and illustrations allows students with different learning styles to show what they know in an exciting and eye-catching way.

Image Attributions
  • 12792201 • Elijah Pilchard • License Free To Use / No Attribution Required / See for what is not allowed
  • 337781 • Bluesnap • License Free for Most Commercial ? No Attribution Required ? See for full license
  • 7409918 • Nennieinszweidrei • License Free for Most Commercial Use / No Attribution Required / See for what is not allowed
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