Pony Crossing

Pony Crossing lesson plan

Did the horses escape from a sunken ship? Could it have been pirates? Discover what happens on this annual pony drive, made famous in Misty of Chincoteague!

  • 1.

    On the last Wednesday and Thursday in July, the oldest round-up in the United States takes place in Maryland and Virginia on Assateague Island. Local firefighters round up the horses that run wild on the barrier islands of the Assateague Island National Seashore and Wildlife Refuge. The ponies swim across the Assateague Channel for 1/2 mile (.4 km). They are driven down the main street of Chincoteague Island. Forty horses of this registered pedigree are sold as part of the carnival festivities.

  • 2.

    These dramatic events inspired the beloved book Misty of Chincoteague as well as visits by thousands of visitors a year. Share the story, Misty of Chicoteague by Marguerite Henry, with students. Invite them to learn more about the area’s history and the story of the horses and their desolate home. How do you think the pony penning is done today? Organize a variety of text and electronic resources for students to view during this investigation.

  • 3.

    Use a classroom map to identify the location of Assateague Island. Ask students to imagine the striking images they would see during the pony crossing. Consider what event they might like to show in a 3-D replica. Here’s one idea to try, or you can choose another scene to show.

  • 4.

    Mold horses’ heads with Crayola® Model Magic. Knead color from Crayola Washable Markers into white Model Magic to create colors. Sculpt eyes, ears, and nostrils. Add details such as manes with more Model Magic as desired. Air-dry the heads.

  • 5.

    Students cover their work areas with recycled newspaper. On watercolor paper, students paint the watery Assateague Channel with Crayola Watercolors and Watercolor Brushes. For a splashy look like horses swimming, wet the paper with clean water before painting. Air-dry flat.

  • 6.

    Cut the horses’ manes from yarn with Crayola Scissors. Attach with Crayola School Glue.

  • 7.

    To make a glaze to preserve sculptures, students mix equal parts of water and glue. Cover the Model Magic with the glaze. Glue the horses’ heads to the water scene. Air-dry flat.

  • 8.

    Display models for classmates and parents to view. Ask students to compose a short summary paragraph based on their research to post with their horse models.

Standards

  • LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.
  • LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
  • LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.
  • SCI: Obtain information that animals have structures that allow them to respond to stimuli through instinct or memory.
  • VA: Use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories.
  • VA: Use visual structures of art to communicate ideas.

Adaptations

  • Possible classroom resources include: Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry; My Chincoteague Pony by Susan Jeffers; Out of the Sea: Today's Chincoteague Pony by Lois K. Szymanski; Assateague: Island of Wild Ponies by Andrea Jauck & Larry Points
  • Part 1 of Misty of Chincoteague is told from the perspective of the horses. Encourage students to continue that voice by writing an account of their illustrations form the animal's perspective.
  • Encourage students to investigate what is necessary to raise a horse. What types of food do horses eat? How much exercise do they need? What specialized care to they need? How do you train horses? Invite a local horse owner to speak with students to assist with the research. Prepare an electronic presentation of findings for classmates.
  • When did horses first appear in the New World? Who brought them to the Americas? Students research these questions and investigate the Europeans who brought them to the Americas. What was their reason for traveling? Were they successful in their mission to the New World?