Social Studies - 2017-18

USII.2a - Physical Features and Climate of the Great Plains

The student will use maps, globes, photographs, pictures, or tables for

a) explaining how physical features and climate influenced the movement of people westward.

Blooms Level: Understand

Adopted: 2008


Big Themes/Concepts: Perception, Region, Physical Environment, Territory, Human-Environment Interaction, Weather, Technology, Adaptation

People move when presented with new opportunities.

People migrate to meet basic needs. 

New technologies change the way we live our daily lives. 


During the nineteenth century, people’s perceptions and use of the Great Plains changed.

Technological advances allowed people to live in more challenging environments.

How did people’s perceptions and use of the Great Plains change after the Civil War?

How did people adapt to life in challenging environments?


Physical features and climate of the Great Plains

  • Flatlands that rise gradually from east to west
  • Land eroded by wind and water
  • Low rainfall
  • Frequent dust storms

Because of new technologies, people saw the Great Plains not as a “treeless wasteland” but as a vast area to be settled.

Inventions and adaptations

  • Barbed wire
  • Steel plows
  • Dry farming
  • Sod houses
  • Beef cattle raising
  • Wheat farming
  • Windmills
  • Railroads

Analyze and interpret primary and secondary source documents to increase understanding of events and life in United States history. (USII.1a)

Analyze and interpret maps that include major physical features. (USII.1f)


physical features, climate, flatlands, eroded, dry farming, natural resources, westward expansion, American Indians, Transcontinental Railroad, Battle of Little Bighorn, Sitting Bull, Geronimo, Chief Joseph, Nez Perce, Battle of Wounded Knee, assimilation, homelands. 

Updated: Aug 17, 2017