The Gold Rush
The discovery of gold and the initial rush to California over land and by sea is an important part of Californian history. The journey was treacherous and life didn’t improve much once the miners arrived. Finding gold was challenging, and food and supplies were scarce and expensive. As fourth graders explore this history, they complete a research project. Using a variety of resources including books and internet sources, students learn to take notes featuring main ideas, supporting details, and visual representations used as a basis for proper expository paragraphs.
Topics range from life in a mining camp, the Pony Express, and San Francisco in the 1800’s to the role of African American, Chinese, and Native American people during the Gold Rush. Students also write in journals in which they record and reflect on the people, influences, and events of the era. In art studio, students design and create their own gold pouches.
On the culminating Gold Rush Day, fourth graders are placed in "mining teams" and work together panning for gold. They enjoy a "Miner's Camp" celebration of songs and activities, make their own hand-pies, and perform a melodrama.