Social Studies

Social Studies (X) - Primary (X) - Human ecology (X) - Geography (X)

Rivers, Roads, Rails, and Air | The Decline of Railroads and Streetcars

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Discover how the building and use of railroads declined due to the popularity of automobiles and trucks. One effect was the development of regional and short line railroads that served smaller communities. Several larger cities used local electric streetcars until the automobiles took over.

Rivers, Roads, Rails, and Air | “A Reluctant and Homesick Pig”

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Learn about the history of steamboats on the Red River. Although its course meandered like a lost and homesick pig, the Red River of the North was a major artery for steamboats, which coordinated with stagecoaches from St. Paul to Fort Abercrombie.

Rivers, Roads, Rails, and Air | Red River Oxcarts

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Learn about the Red River oxcarts that were the primary means of transporting goods from the Red River Valley to St. Paul.

Harvesting Herring Eggs | EARTH A New Wild

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Using a method that goes back generations, fishermen in Alaska use an entirely natural method to harvest eggs from spawning herring. Use this resource to teach about sustainable farming and customs indigenous to Alaska and Canada.

Shipping on the Great Lakes: Benefits and Consequences of Exporting Goods

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Learn how Lake Michigan is used for the shipping and exporting of goods. Lake Michigan is 118 miles at its widest point, 301 miles long and is the third largest Great Lake by surface area. Today Lake Michigan continues to be a major shipping route to and from the Midwest for freighters. 

The town of Singapore, founded in the 1830’s, was one of the first establishments on the Michigan side of Lake Michigan. This town started as an entrepreneurial town to rival Chicago or Milwaukee as a lake port. It quickly became known as a busy lumbering and timbering town.

White pine lumber was in great demand all over the Midwest until October of 1871. A couple of days after the Great Chicago Fire, a big forest fire burned the western side of Michigan near Singapore and depleted the timber supply. Singapore went bankrupt because of the weakened timber supply and became a ghost town.

With Singapore becoming a ghost town and no longer a Lake Michigan shipping port, timber and leather had to find a way to be shipped to Chicago and the Midwest. The town of Saugatuck became the nearest port on the Michigan side of Lake Michigan to ship goods across Lake Michigan to Chicago and the Midwest. 

With the decline of the timber industry, due to the forest fire, fruit farming was gaining popularity. Boats were needed to ship fresh fruit and leather across Lake Michigan.

With Lake Michigan becoming a major shipping route, this led to a decline in the fishing industry. 

The opening of the Welland Canal connecting the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, via the St. Lawrence Seaway, had positive and negative effects on the ecosystems of Lake Michigan. 

Biscayne National Park Field Trip

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Penny and KidVision VPK Kid Ryan go on a scavenger hunt at Biscayne National Park to find national wonders, investigate mangroves, travel through the coral reefs, and become Junior Park Rangers.