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        Idaho | Activity 1.5: People of Idaho from Near and Far

        Unit 1: Introduction to Idaho 

        This Unit will examine seemingly objective terms and concepts. Are “wilderness” and “civilization” opposites or something more complex? How are “boundaries” established and maintained? Do words like “wealth” and “liberty” mean the same thing to everyone? How does culture influence one’s perspective and experience in the world? The materials and activities in this unit will give students a more nuanced understanding of how to set about learning about their state.

        Lesson Summary

        Students do a “jigsaw” activity in which expert groups complete introductory research about some of the major groups that have come to Idaho. The findings of their research will be recorded in a graphic organizer. They then compare notes with other students in order to learn general background information about each of the following: American Indians, Chinese miners and workers, Protestant missionaries, Mormon settlers, and Basque immigrants. 

        Standard: 4.SS.5.1.2 Discuss the challenges experienced by people from various cultural, racial, and religious groups that settled in Idaho from various parts of the world.

        Time Allotment

        20 minutes (allow 45 minutes if traveling to library)


        • Class set of Cultures of Idaho graphic organizer
        • Research books, computers, or a school library (if possible)


        1. Ask students if they know when or how their families came to be in Idaho. Then, explain that they will be doing research about some to the groups that have come to the area we now call the State of Idaho. They will be focusing on the difficulties confronted by each group and on the group influenced the economy, environment, culture, and history of Idaho.
        2. Pass out the Cultures of Idaho graphic organizer. This activity will be done as a jigsaw. Divide students into five groups by having them count off by five. Form “expert” groups by having students work with students who have the same number. Assign each with one of the peoples from the organizer to research. Within each group, a student can be assigned a category to focus on. Research resources will depend on the availability of books, computers, textbooks, etc. in your classroom. If possible, expand this activity by planning a trip to the school library. The intention is for students do this as an introductory exercise, as they will be learning more about each of these groups throughout the year. Therefore, students should only be given 10 minutes to research their category.
        3. Then, they will share the information they have found in “home” groups comprised of five students, each with a different number. Every student should thus have a completed graphic organizer.
        4. To conclude the lesson, each home group will develop one question that the class would like to answer about each of the peoples they have just learned about.

        Note to teachers: The impact column should refer to what each group has contributed to Idaho as a collective: of culture, economic impact, etc.


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