Chapter 15: California

Teacher's Guide Chapter Authors: Beth Mulvey and Mike Kuennen 5th Grade Teachers at Woolley Elementary School in the Clark County School District.

Chapter Overview: Two weeks after leaving the Pima Villages, the wagon train reaches the Colorado River, which is close to the spot where the buried father. (Feb. 19) Sallie meets a ferryman, Don Diego (Mr. Jaeger), who was also shot with an Indian arrow. He opened a stage station and also a ferry crossing. Mother mails a letter to Uncle George telling him that they hope to arrive in Los Angeles in mid-March. (March 15) After a long journey across the desert and around the salt lake, they finally arrive in Los Angeles. Uncle George tries to pay Mr. Smith the $200 for the journey, but he won’t accept it. (April 3) Sallie plants her Walnuts on Uncle Si’s farm to commemorate all the family went through on their journey. (May 17) The Fox family visits the Pacific Ocean. (Epilogue) An update on Sallie and her family includes a restaurant and shopping complex in honor of The Nut Tree. Also, information about Sallie, her mother, Francie, Julia, Mr. Smith, John Udell, and Mr. Rose is provided.

Chapter Themes: Arriving in California, the Walnut, Ocean
Chapter Activities

  • Language Arts
    • Imagining the Ocean
      • Students will write about what it is “To imagine what it would be like to see he ocean for the first time.”
      • Standards Addressed
        • (5)5.8 use expanded vocabulary in writing: a.) action verbs b.) adjectives c.) figurative language d.) transition words e.) synonyms/antonyms
        • (5)6.8 produce writing with a voice that shows awareness of an intended audience and purpose [NS 6.5.6]
    • Journal Writing
      • Students will read back over what they have written about this entire book and write an overall reflection or epilogue about their experiences.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (5)5.1 participate in daily writing activities (e.g., journals, learning logs, reports)
        • (5)3.3 identify historical events and cultural contexts as portrayed in literature [NS 3.5.3]
  • Mathematics
    • Journey Costs
      • Students will estimate what a journey of this magnitude would have cost back at the time of the book. Students will also use a search engine and determine what a plane or train ticket(s) would cost now to make the journey for the Fox family. Would the $200 offered by Mrs. Fox have paid the cost either back then or now?
      • Standards Addressed
        • (5)B.2 use inquiry techniques (discussion, questioning, research, and data gathering) to solve mathematical problems [NS B.3-5]
        • (5)D.6 identify, explain, and use mathematics in everyday life [NS D.3-5]
    • Timelines
      • Students will make a timeline of the first journey from Albuquerque to White Rock Springs. They will also make a timeline of the second journey from Albuquerque to Vacaville. Which journey was shorter in time? Which journey was shorter in miles?
      • Standards Addressed
        • (5)5.1 organize and represent data using a variety of graphical representations including stem and leaf plots and histograms [NS 5.5.1]
        • (5)1.25 use a variety of appropriate strategies to estimate, compute, and solve mathematical and real-world problems
  • Social Studies
    • California
      • Students will research California back at the time the book was written and also now. Compare and contrast the two.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (5)3.9 describe physical and human features and cultural characteristics of places and regions in the United States [NS 2.5.1]
        • (5)3.31 describe places in the United States where the physical environment has been altered by technology [NS 5.5.3]
    • Salt Water Lake
      • Students will research and discover where the salt water lake is that Sallie talks about in her journal. How did this lake get there?
      • Standards Addressed
        • (5)3.3 read and derive geographic information from photographs, maps, graphs, and computer resources [NS 1.5.3]
        • (5)3.20 investigate an ecosystem by asking and answering geographic questions [NS 3.5.5]
  • Science
    • Growing a seed
      • Allie found and grew a walnut seed into a tree. Students will grow a seed (preferably a walnut) in class and chart its progress.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (5)1.5 create and use labeled illustrations, graphs (tables, line plots, stem and leaf plots, scatter plots, histograms), and charts to convey ideas, record observations, and make predictions [N5A1; N5A4]
        • (5)4.3 investigate and describe how plants and animals require food, water, air, and space [L5B1]
    • Sandstorms
      • Sallie’s family suffered and survived a major sandstorm. Students will research sandstorms and decide what extra measures need to be taken to survive such a storm.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (5)3.3 investigate and describe various meteorological phenomena (flooding, snowstorms, thunderstorms, and drought) [E5A4]
        • E5C Students understand that features on the Earth’s surface are constantly changed by a combination of slow and rapid processes.
Historic Overview - A large number of people went to California during this time period (1850 - 1860) and they went for a variety of reasons. I believe that most found California not to be the promised land that they had heard of. It was still a lot of hard work but if you were willing to do hard work you could make a living being there. California was a very dynamic state during this time period especially with the gold rush that was occurring. Many people didn't make their fame and fortune. It caused a great movement of people from East to travel a variety of different ways to get to California.

Other Resources

Peterson, P. The bison and the people of the plains. Mexico: Harcourt.

Sandstorm Info

Salt Water Lake


Becky said...

I really liked the different types of activities that you used. They were not all sit down and use paper and pencil activities. I also liked that you have them comparing many present day things to past day things. I feel that sometimes students do not fully understand what it has to do with them. My favorite activity was the one where you have them find out if the $200 was worth it or not. The other one I really liked was having them journal throughout the whole book so that you know what they are thinking and they can then sum it up. Overall I think you did a great job!!!

Christy G. Keeler, Ph.D. said...

It might be cool to have students create a movie about seeing the ocean for the first time. They could include pictures, sound, and a script and prepare it using iMovie, PhotoStory, or MovieMaker. Then, you could post these on the class website.

Writing an epilogue - that's incredibly original! Great idea!

You could extend the $200 activity to include an economics activity on inflation. How much would $200 be in the current economy and would the $200 be an appropriate offer?

It might be fun to have students experience hurricane force winds at the Lied Discovery Museum. Though the sandstorm's winds were not as high, the sand pelting their bodies surely made it as miserable.

I love the idea of researching salt lakes. Elementary-aged children are seldom given opportunities to learn about early history and this fits in beautifully.

Consider showing students pictures of California then and now as students do their comparisons. This would be a great way to bring in primary sources.

Excellent work, you two!