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Mountain Vista

Role play the journey of an American pioneer moving west and create a pastel drawing of a new settlement.

  • Grade 3
    Grade 4
  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Directions

    1. Invite students to engage in a role play about life in North America from 1890 to 1930. Classmates form a family and select a town in which to live. Each family member will choose an occupation (farmer, general store owner, blacksmith, laborer). Students act out occupations and life in that town. Then imagine what happens to the family when obstacles to economic survival occur (drought, competition, unemployment). Identify why the family chooses to move West: land, natural resources such as gold, and independence.
    2. Reference a map from the era. Invite students to find out what modes of transportation were available from 1890 to 1930 to move West from one's hometown. Identify necessary items for travel and re-settling in a new place.
    3. With family members (small group of students), use Crayola® Erasable Colored Pencils to write about and illustrate the journey west, describing reasons for moving, events that occurred along the trip, and what the family expects to find and do in the new location.
    4. Draw the imagined the new area at the turn of the 20th century with Crayola Oil Pastels. Blend pastels by rubbing with a fingertip or paper towel. Add details by using pastel over pastel.
    5. Provide time in the school day for student groups (families) to present the journal of their trip west to classmates.
  • Standards

    LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

    LA: Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

    LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions 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.

    SS: Explore and describe similarities and differences in the ways groups, societies, and cultures address similar human needs and concerns.

    SS: Compare and contrast different stories or accounts about past events, people, places, or situations, identifying how they contribute to our understanding of the past.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

    SS: Locate and distinguish among varying landforms and geographic features, such as mountains, plateaus, islands, and oceans.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Who Settled the West? by Bobbie Kammon & Bobbie Kalman; Pioneers to the West by John Bliss

    Students collaborate to write a play focused on a group journeying West during the expansion of the United States. Traveling in a covered wagon, students describe the views as they proceed westward. What is the weather like? Where might you want to settle? What obstacles might you encounter along the way?

    Travelers write letters home to loved ones recounting their experiences while traveling west. What does the frontier look like? Are the people friendly? Is your journey successful? Are you homesick? How are you overcoming any obstacles you encounter?

    Supply students with literature and history from the pioneer period. Students discuss whether or not they believe some of the accounts of the West were exaggerated?

    Students investigate The Great Migration of the early 1900s. How was this like, or unlike, the pioneers moving west?


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  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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