Chapter 6: Cimarron

Teacher's Guide Chapter Author: Cynthia C. Spence, 5th grade teacher, Oran K. Gragson Elementary School, Clark County School District

Chapter Overview: Chapter 6 begins as Sallie and the other travelers leave the Arkansas River and start across the Cimarron Desert. In this chapter the reader continues to understand the challenges facing the wagon train as it moves across terrain that is often without a predictable water supply and food for humans and livestock. Sallie and the others are introduced to the optical phenomenon of mirages. The travelers are faced with important selection decisions when they realize that they must carry more water than normal to survive their desert passage.

Chapter Themes: The main theme for this chapter is the continued challenges facing the travelers and the importance of water to their survival.

Chapter Activities

  • Language Arts
    • Jedediah Smith Foldable Activity
      • SW use the library and Internet to research Jedediah Smith. They will divide the information they find into four sections: birth/death information, contributions to discovery, interesting facts, questions I would ask if I met him today. SW create a foldable to display their information using drawings/photos from the Internet. Extension Activity: for extra credit students can include maps to show his travels in the west.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (5) 5.1, participate in daily writing activities
        • (5) 5.2, write informative papers that develop a clear topic with appropriate facts, details, and examples from a variety of sources
    • List it on Ebay Activity
      • SW discuss the facts related to the death of Jedediah Smith. They will consider what type of "personal belongings" the Comanches may have taken from him and draw these items and write a description of what they can be used for to put in an ad on Ebay. Students will determine what the items are worth and put the beginning bid in as part of their ad.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (5) 7.6, create readable compositions that are legible
        • (5) 7.8, follow multi-step oral directions to complete tasks
  • Mathematics
    • How Much is Too Much Water Activity
      • SW will activate prior knowledge of how far a wagon train can travel in a day to determine how much water is needed to complete the 60 mile journey from one location (Arkansas River) to the next anticipated water source. Students will use the Internet and previous science information to determine how much water a person needs in a day and determine the number of people in the wagon train in order to determine the total amount needed by the travelers. This amount will be displayed in both customary and metric measurements.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (5) A.1, select, modify, develop, apply, and justify strategies to solve a variety of mathematical concepts
        • (5) B.5, use everyday language to make conjectures, explain, and jsutify thinking about strategies and solutions to mathematical problems
    • Load the Wagons; Its Moving Day Activity
      • SW be given the measurements of a typical covered wagon. SW use graph paper to plot the dimensions and will use a list of typical supplies carried on a wagon train and their dimensions. SW determine what they need for their trip and what will fit into the wagon. (Extension Activity: students may search the Internet to determine how much weight an ox or horse call pull and see if they can use that to determine how many animals will be needed to pull their wagon) SW draw a diagram detailing where they will put each item in their wagon
      • Standards Addressed
        • (5) 3.1, estimate and convert units of measure for weight and volume/capacity within the same measurement system
        • (5) 3.4, measure volume and weight to a required degree of accuracy in the cusomary and metric system
  • Social Studies
    • Dinner Round the Campfire
      • SW research what types of foods were eaten on wagon trains. TW introduce the topic by discussing Pioneer Vittles (Racco Hoo, Union Pacific Apple Pancakes, Dinner Beef Potroast, Dutch Oven Cobbler and Dessert Doughnut Rhyme) SW look for interesting receipes and select one to try in class. (Parent volunteers can be used to actually prepare the dish if kitchen facilities are not available) (Extension Activity: Students can prepare a Vittles Cookbook)
      • Standards Addressed
        • (5) 3.13, identify and describe the locations of selected historical events
        • (5) 4.28, read, interpret, and analyze historical passages
    • On the Trail with Jedediah Smith
      • SW use background information researched in Language Arts Activity to create several journal entries about time spent on the trail with Jedediah Smith. Journling will need to include references to location, conditions, and personality traits of Mr. Smith. Journals will be written in the first person using any relevant information from their research.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (5) 4.2, record and interpret events on a graphic organizer such as a calendar or timeline
        • (5) 4.3, ask a historical question and identify resources to be used in research
  • Science
    • The Mirage Activity (PS not the one in Las Vegas)
      • SW be introduced to the optical phenomenon of mirage throught a series of pictures and examples. SW learn that light rays are bent to produce a displaced image of distant objects or the sky via the use of prisms. SW understand the difference between a superior mirage and an inferior mirage. SW watch a video clips that further detail this phenomenon. SW break into groups and discuss what types of mirages may have occured when traveling for several days without ample water.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (5) 1.4, draw conclusions from scientific evidence
        • (5) 1.7, use models to explain how something works
    • The Journada Activity
      • SW discuss the meaning of the word "journada". TW lead students in a discussion of the Journada del Muerto (Journey of the dead man) and indicate that this is a very dry stretch of desert basin between Mexico and northern New Mexico. SW refer to the passage in the chapter where Sallie is discussing the journada and compare the travelers preparation to what travelers do today to prepare to go across deserts. SW locate the Journada on a map and discuss the terrain and its measurements. The Journada del Muerto is about 160 meters or 100 miles long.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (5) 3.6, compare and contrast various kinds of landforms
        • (5) 4.5, explain that living things get what they need to survive from their environments

Historical Overview of Chapter Themes

One of the themes of this chapter was the continued struggle for survival on the trail. The reader is introduced to the name of Jedediah Smith and the value of the information that his travels had for the next set of individuals seeking to go west. Further exploration into the life of Jedediah is both interesting and important for the students as they explore the challenges of pioneer life.

Jedediah Smith was born in 1799 and is thought to have died on or around May 27, 1831. Details surrounding his death will interest students since the actual events leading up to it cannot be proven. Discussions about his activities as a hunter, fur trader and explorer will help the student develop a rich understanding of what type of activities sustained life for the early settler when farming was not an option.

Students in the state of Nevada will find particular interest in the fact that he was the first to cross the state of Nevada. This should coincide with information learned as part of the fourth grade curriculum. Other firsts of interest include his being the first to traverse Utah from north to south and east to west, being the first American to enter California by an overland route, being the first white an to scale the high Sierras, and the first to explore the Pacific hinterland from San Diego to the Columbia River.

Perhaps Jedediah is best known for leading a party that rediscovered the south pass which shortened thetime needed to get to the west slope of the Rocky Mountains from St. Louis. His death was initiated by his search for an additional water source for his party (this ties nicely back to the 6th chapter of the book). He never returned from this search and it was only later when some of his personal belongings were being offered for sale (tie to the Ebay Activity) that former members of his party were able to determine that Comanche hunters had got them from a white man they killed. His body was never found,

Additional Resources

1 comment:

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

How cool!!! Creating eBay ads for Jedediah Smith's articles! They could even find pictures of the items from history websites! How authentic and fun! Talk about appreciating 21st century skills! WOW!

I love how science meets fantasy and creativity when you teach about the mirages and then have the students posit what the party saw in the distance.

Regarding the Journada activity... you mean they didn't have rest stops? LOL