Mapping the Changes

Art, Language Arts, and Social Studies Activity

Students use maps and illustrations to compare life in the West before the Civil War, after the war, and the way it is today.



  1. Divide students into teams. Tell students that they are going to research, write about, and illustrate one aspect of life in one western state during three periods: before the Civil War, in the 50 years after, and in the present.

  2. Explain that each team should choose one aspect of life in a state and show how it changed during the three periods. Examples: Native American populations, land in use for agriculture, acres of forest land, size of largest urban areas, number of cities over a certain population, number of manufacturing jobs, production figures for specific goods, miles of railroad track, number of registered voters, etc.

    Students should make a map for each period and use legends and/or symbols to present changes in their information. Each period map should be accompanied by an illustration depicting some aspect of the topic durinng that period. You might suggest that students present their maps and drawings in comic-strip form.

  3. Have each team make an oral presentation of the research they did and the materials they created to summarize the changes in each state.


Have students graph the changes they discovered, then use the graphs to help them summarize their research.

Encourage students to evaluate the changes they observed and to offer reasons for their judgments.

You may wish to have teams of students conduct their research by region, with a different team for each state but all examining the same three factors. Have students group their posters on the wall by region, then study the individual states to make comparisons.

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