I want to adapt the Homestead Interact so that it better matches the History of Seattle, which I am teaching to 4th graders. Any suggestions of ways to think about making this Unit more specific while keeping the excellent Interact spirit?
Sorry for the delay my response to you. I have contacted the author of HOMESTEAD, John Wesley (also a member of Interact Teacher's Center) regarding your question and asked him contact me or you at his earliest convenience. In the meantime I am currently reviewing the lesson myself to come up with some ideas. Please let us know if there is anything else we can help you with.
I have several things you might consider to integrate Seattle history into the HOMESTEAD Interact lesson. In addition to having students read a brief history of homesteading included in the lesson, also have them read an overview of Seattle history. You could also make this into a great opening activity by having students do a historical scavenger hunt for interesting facts about Seattle. The HOMESTEAD simulation involves the use of "Fate Cards." You could adopt some of these cards to early Seattle historical events--fires, floods, epidemics, etc.--with names of people, dates, and locations related to Seattle that they might be familiar with. You can have students do this research themselves and create 'Fate Cards" and earn an extra $25 dollars for their budgets (check the "Options" section). You might also consider creating a period map of the Seattle area where early settlement occurred in the late 1860s. The Seattle Times has some great resources at http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/news/local/seattle_history/. The Seattle Public Library also has a good collection of materials and maps at http://www.spl.org/default.asp?pageID=collection_db_list&dbPage=9.
In addition to creating a map of early Seattle, you also might want to tailor some of the materials to emphasize Seattle's logging and shipping industries. This can be done in the Fate Cards, homesteader identities and occupations, the Farming Chart, and Existing Jobs and Businesses. Also consider rewriting some of the questions on the Pre-Post Test to include Seattle history.
Let us know how things turn out and contact us again for any other information you might need. Good luck.