Chapter 3: From Springfield to Independence

Teacher's Guide Chapter Author: Denber Cruz, 4th Grade Teacher, Rose Warren Empowerment School, Clark County School District

Chapter Overview: Chapter III of Patty Reed's Doll talked about the the part of the trip from Springfield to Independence.  Independence, MO is the last town on the frontier and the last chance for the part to stock up on items that they will need for their trip out to California.  The chapter talked about the morning preparations that the part went through before heading out every morning.  Everyone getting cleaned up, breakfast, getting the animals ready, the wagon lines being inspected, is a daily routine that the party went through.  The chapter also talked about some of the things that they did to keep themselves entertained while they were out on the trail.

Chapter Themes: Life on the Trail, Preparation, Documentation

Chapter Activities

  • Language Arts
    • Mr. Reed's Diary
      • Mr. Reed kept a daily record of the trip.  Students will do the same with their reading.  Students will keep a record of their reading as well as summarizing the important parts of what they have read and will write down questions that they have about the chapter that they feel the story has not answered.  They will check back with their journals as they go through the story and see if the book does answer an of their prior questions.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (4)5.1 participate in daily writing activties (e.g journals, learning logs, reports
        • (4)10.2 ask and answer questions with relevant details to clarify ideas
    • Plodding Down the Muddy Roads
      • The picture on page 29 and reading the text on page 30 describe the reaction that people had to the travelers going west as well as some of the things that the travelers saw.  Students will write what they think that they would see today if they made that same trip using the examples on page 30.  The students will also draw a picture similar to page 29 that will match their composition.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (4)5.5 write responses to literary selections using supporting details from the selection to support their responses
        • (4)5.6 write compositions with a main idea and supporting details
  • Mathematics
    • How long will it take by ...
      • The road from Springfield to Independence is less than 350 miles, or about 5 and half hours by car.  It took the Donner Party almost a month.  The students will make approximations of how long the trip will take based on different modes of transportation and how fast they are going using these different modes.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (4)2.2 identify, describe, represent, and explain patterns and relationships in the number system including arithmetic and geometric sequences
        • (4)1.24 generate and solve addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems using whole numbers in practical situations
    • There was no such thing as Miles per Hour
      • Travel was measured in a different way then that it is now.  For this activity, students will convert distances from Miles to Yards, to Feet to Inches and Kilometers, to Meters, to Millimeters.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (4)3.3 measure, compare, and convert length in inches, feet, yards, and miles to the nearest fractional part (1/4, 1/2)
        • (4)3.4 measure, compare, and convert length in metric units (millimeter, centimeter, meter, kilometer)
  • Social Studies
    • A Day in the Life
      • Chapter three discusses the regular routines that the travelers went through while preparing for their trip and things that they did while on the trail.  After reading the passages, students will write down things that was not discussed in the chapter that the travelers more than likely had to do as well.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (4)4.12 read historical passages and interpret details
        • (4)4.4 describe experiences of pioneers moving west, including: Donner Party, Oregon/California Trails
    • 24 on the Trail
      • The TV Show 24 happen is "real" time where a one hour episode is one hour in the life of the shows main person.  Students will create a 24 hour timeline from one day in the life of a person on the trail.  The student will also write a narrative describing in great detail an hour of their choice.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (4)4.1 record events on a graphic organizer, such as a calendar or a time line
        • (4)4.4 describe experiences of pioneers moving west, including (Donner Party, Oregon/California Trails
  • Science
    • Botanize like Mrs. Donner (pg. 31)
      • Mrs. Donner showed the children her artwork and her botany.  Children could bring in their own leaves and flowers from home and botanize like Mrs. Donner.
      • Standards Addressed
        • L2D Students understand that there are many kinds of living things on Earth
        • L2B Students understand that living things have identifiable characteristics
    • Let's Make an "Oregon Trail"
      • Let's make an "Oregon Trail" is about showing students how mud is made and how the trails are made.  Students will make "mud" and using pencils, will make a trail that they will allow to dry.
      • Standards Addressed
        • E2C Students understand that Earth materials include rocks, soils, and water.
        • E5C Students understand that features on the Earth's surface are constantly changed by a combination of slow and rapid processes.
Historical Overview of Chapter Themes

It's interesting to note that some historians believe that the story James Reed is the story that dominates the entire story of the Donner Party.  The theme that I chose for this overview is the one on preparation.  James Reed spent over a year planning and preparing for his trip out west.  Although he originally planned to go to Oregon, he later changed his mind and opted for a trip out to Californian instead.
Part of his planning is making sure that his wife and mother-in-law is comfortable.  He had a wagon specially made which he wanted to make sure will shield the passengers inside from the harshness of the trail.  Many believe that it is because of this larger, slower wagon that that they got stuck in the Sierras.

Additional Resources


Jess said...

I loved your activity for Language Arts called "Plodding.." It's such a great idea to have the students connect the illustrations and text. I thought it would be a cool idea to try and throw in some actual photos of wagon trains. I know google images has some and UnitedStreaming has good video also. You had some great activities though, thanks!

Richard Ishman said...

Thanks for the great science component ideas. The botany lesson was particularly strong. Teaching the children techniques of drying and preserving flowers is a great low-cost activity. Also, I really liked the Oregon trail making activity out of mud. An extension activity that you might want to think about, could be making a topographical map of the trail. It would be easy to use clay or some type of putty. Then the students could really get the idea of the elevations and distances. Great job.

rich said...

The 24-hour timeline is a great idea. I am doing a similar activity with my class having the students create a diary or journal (boys prefer a journal) about what they see and experience daaily on the journey.

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

I like the idea of having students journal as they read through the book. An extension might be to have students research answers to their questions if they are not answered in the book. Then, have a Chautauqua presenter perform and the actor/actress could answer any additional questions.

I love the way you integrate art appreciation with literacy! You might also have students look at primary source pictures so they have greater knowledge of the era and can make connections between the book and real life. And, Denber... I can't believe you didn't recommend they use KidPix (or some other software application) for this assignment.:-)

The "24 on the Trail" activity is great. It's a nice way to merge popular culture with learning history. My only concern is that 24 has a mature rating and I worry children may wish to watch it after this lesson. Some parents may not approve and this could cause you problems.

The kinesthetic aspect of the mud activity is great! You could also tie this into a math lesson. Though elementary students may not be ready for the central limit theorem (LOL), they can understand probability and determine why certain trails because more smooth than others.