Chapter 18: The Rescue

Teacher's Guide Chapter Author: Robert Mitchell and Christine Anderson, 5th Grade, Thompson Elementary School, Clark County School District

Chapter Overview:

One day the Reeds hear voices. A group of men from California, sent by the banished Mr. Reed, have formed a rescue party and come looking for them. They brought with them some food. Some people stayed in the cabin while others went for the Donners. Twenty three people were able to leave with the first relief party, Mrs. Reed included. Mr. Glover promises to come back for the rest of those who are left behind, including Patty and her brother Tommy. They are gone for a week. The weather begins to turn warmer. The second relief party shows up with Mr. Reed. At first they do not recognize their father. They brought with them some food. The Donners were too weak to leave with the second party. The Breens refuse to go with the second rescue party because Patrick Breen is too weak. Both the Breens and the Graves stay behind. Patty almost dies, but her father is able to revive her with a small piece of bread. With frostbitten feet, barely able to walk, the second group runs into Mr. Eddy and another relief party who had horses. They are able to ride the rest of the way into Bear Valley.

Chapter Themes:
Faith (religion)


Chapter Activities

  • Language Arts
    • Activity Idea 1 Dramatization of the Rescue
      • Students will write and perform (in pairs) a dramatization between Patty and her father when he arrives in the second rescue party to retrieve his family.
      • Standards Addressed
        • 9.4.3 Give organized presentations that demonstrate a clear viewpoint.
        • 3.4.2 Make inferences about character traits; make predictions about conflicts and resolutions.
    • Activity Idea 2 Create an Illustration
      • Students will create an illustration, not already represented in the story, which shows one or more scenes from the rescue. Students will frame their illustration with key words or phrases from that chapter.
      • Standards Addressed
        • 3.4.4 Identify themes in a variety of reading selections.
        • 5.4.4 Write responses to literature, using supporting details from the selection.
  • Mathematics
    • Activity Idea 1 Story Problems
      • The teacher will create a variety of elapsed-time story problems using the context of the rescue.
      • Standards Addressed
        • 3.4.6 Use elapsed time in quarter-hour increments beginning on the quarter hour to determine start, end, and elapsed time.
        • C Students will develop their ability to reason mathematically by solving problems where there is a need to investigate mathematical ideas and construct their own learning in all content areas. Students will do this n order to draw logical conclusions, discuss the logical conclusions, discuss the steps used to solve a mathematical problem, and justify and explain the solutions to problems using physical models.
    • Activity Idea 2 Conversions
      • Students will convert 5 months to days. Students will brainstorm typical activities that they could accomplish in that time period.
      • Standards Addressed
        • 3.4.6 Recognize the number of weeks in a year, days in a year, and days in a month.
        • Students will develop the ability to make mathematical connections by solving problems where there is a need to view mathematics as an integrated whole. Students will do this in order to apply mathematical thinking and modeling to solve problems that arise in other disciplines and view mathematics as an integrated whole in order to identify mathematics used in everyday life.
  • Social Studies
    • Activity Idea 1 The Trail Home
      • Students will create a map that displays the path the rescuers would have used to reach the Donner party and to return to Bear Valley.
      • Standards Addressed
        • 4.3.1 Identify and use intermediate directions on a compass rose to locate places on a map.
        • 4.3.9 Locate and name major mountains, rivers, and lakes on a map of the United States.
    • Activity Idea 2 Fort Sumter
      • Students will create a diagram of the layout of the fort, labeling specific features and write short paragraphs describing the importance of the feature.
      • Standards Addressed
        • 4.3.26 Compile a list of where goods and services are produced.
        • 6.4.3 Create one-paragraph composition with main idea and supporting details.
  • Science
    • Activity Idea 1 Lunchroom Lessons
      • Students will come up with a menu describing how they could use the contents of a typical sack lunch to "feed" a family of 4, much like the Reed family had to stretch their supplies.
      • Standards Addressed
        • 4.3.1 Plan healthy meals and snacks including the importance of serving size.
        • 4.3.3 Explain the importance of water in relation to diet.
    • Activity Idea 2 Winter Hibernation
      • Hold a class discussion on why the Reed children slept so much during the winter and why they were forced to turn back when the rescuers came for them. The discussion should focus on how their bodies deteriorated due to lack of food and why they were unable to complete daily tasks that most 10 year olds could perform. The idea being that they were weak because their bodies had adapted to the lack of nutrition and the body was conserving energy to carry out basic functions.
      • Standards Addressed
        • 4.3.3 Explain that the human body is composed of systems of structures that work together so the body can grow and survive.
        • 4.4.1 Compare learned and inherited behaviors in animals.
Historical Overview of Chapter Themes

In this chapter the party of seven that was sent to rescue the Reeds told of a war in California and how it was no longer a foreign country but one of the United States. The movement of Americans into western North America, as well as the concept of a Manifest Destiny were both causes of the Mexican-American War, mentioned in the story.

President Polk made promises to the voters to gain California at all costs. Yet as settlers moved west, they were moving into a foreign country. They were drawn by economics. Many were hoping to buy land before prices for land went up. Many hoped that they could turn around and sell the land for a profit when California became a state. There were also many opportunities for trade, and of course in 1848 gold was discovered. These forward thinking settlers simply presumed that America would eventually include the land that made up California.

Polk promised California and Oregon to the voters because there were already Americans living there and there was much money to be made in those areas.

Before California became a state it was governed by American military leaders. Because of the number of settlers coming in, these military leaders urged Congress to establish a civilian government as quickly as possible. President Taylor agreed with the need and pushed for immediate statehood, without going through the usual period of territorial government.

A constitutional convention was called in Monterey, California in September of 1848 asking for immediate statehood, free of slavery. Congress had a hard time because there was also the issue of what to do with the land that was ceded from Mexico in the south. Slave states wanted slavery allowed, while others argued that slavery shouldn't be introduced to an area that had been free from slavery.

President Taylor died before the issue was settled and was succeeded by his vice president, Millard Fillmore. On August 1, 1850, the Senate passed the Utah bill, the first of a series of bills that addressed all of the major issues at hand. California's admission was one of the most hotly debated. On August 13, 1850, it passed the Senate. The new Fugitive Slave Bill was the last to pass the Senate on August 19. The House of Representatives took up the first of the bills, the Texas-New Mexico Boundary Bill, on August 28 and passed it on September 6. the other bills, including the California Statehood Bill passed soon thereafter. By the efforts of Clay, Fillmore, Webster and Douglas, California became the 31st state (free of slavery) on September 9, 1850.
  • California History for Children, By Harr Wagner and James Stevenson


Suzanne Hennigan said...

Robert and Christine,
Your teacher's guide activities in sciences should be an eye opening experience for students. I like the lunchroom lessons because most (not all)students just assume that there is always going to be food there for them. I like how they have to come up with the menu and make it work for a family of four. It should give them a new appreciation for the people that take care of them. One idea that you might want to consider for Winter Hibernation is talking about animals hibernating in the winter. Maybe the students can talk about why this is different from the children's experiences. Nice job on your teacher's guide.
Suzanne Hennigan

Richard Ishman said...

Good job guys. Two things that I really liked about your unit. First, the activity of describing and mapping out Fort Sumter. This activity should focus the student's attention on just how confined even the most deluxe accommodations were. I could see you doing a compare and contrast (Double Bubble Map) lesson about the various places that the families lived in. This might be a powerful lesson for the students, because if they are like my students, they might live in small, cramped apartments. Also, I appreciated the lesson on hibernation. I know that this is a complex concept, but it would be good for the students to understand why there were so few animals around Donner Lake.