About 4th Grade North Dakota Studies

The North Dakota Studies program at the State Historical Society of North Dakota promotes teaching and learning about the geography, history, government, current issues, and citizenship of North Dakota.

A series of 4th Grade North Dakota Studies units is available as a resource on the people, places, events, and fascinating history of North Dakota. The 4th Grade North Dakota Studies series includes:


Early Settlement of North Dakota

Learners are introduced to early forms of transportation, including the Red River cart, steamboats, stagecoaches, and the railroad. Bonanza farms, cattle ranching, immigration, and pioneer life between 1870 and 1915 are also introduced.


Frontier Era of North Dakota

Readers learn about the Lewis and Clark Expedition in North Dakota, fur trade on the Red and Missouri Rivers, and early frontier military history.


American Indians of North Dakota

Learners study the history and culture of the Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Chippewa, and Great Sioux Nation.


Geology, Geography, and Climate

Learners are introduced to North Dakota’s geological past and the three major geographical regions, as well as the weather and climate of the state.


North Dakota Agriculture

Readers learn about the historical background of agriculture, the Mandan as the first farmers, and homesteading and early ranching, as well as modern production agriculture and the role it plays in today’s state economy.



Learners are introduced to national, state, and local governments. Rights and responsibilities of young citizens, voting, state symbols, and the Theodore Roosevelt Roughrider Award recipients are also discussed.



Development of the 4th Grade North Dakota series began in 2006. After much brainstorming with stakeholders and others, a project team of professional educators, historians, and graphic artists was assembled to design, research, write, and implement this Grade 4 North Dakota Studies curriculum. The State Historical Society of North Dakota began converting the 4th Grade North Dakota Studies series to a web-based format in 2016.

Project team members have invested hundreds of hours of time to make this unique learning opportunity available to North Dakota’s 4th graders and other learners. 

The 4th Grade North Dakota Studies series is made possible, in part, through appropriations from the North Dakota Legislative Assembly.



Program Coordinator

Neil Howe, M.S., is the program coordinator for the North Dakota Studies Program at the State Historical Society of North Dakota. Howe has more than 35 years of experience in secondary school curriculum and administration, including more than 20 years of teaching high school social studies, and more than 15 years as principal and director of the North Dakota Center for Distance Education. 


Gwyn Herman, Ph.D., is the co-author of the Grade 4 North Dakota Studies units. Herman has 39 years of teaching experience, including 16 years in 4th grade, 10 years in high school, and 13 years as an associate professor at the university level, where she taught education courses and served as program director of elementary education. 

Laverne Johnson, M.S., is the co-author of the Grade 4 North Dakota Studies units. Johnson’s educational experience includes 23 years as an elementary and middle school teacher, 10 years as a high school speech/language pathologist, and 8 years at the university level, where she worked closely with classroom teachers as a supervisor of pre-service and student teachers.