Chapter 5: Out on the Prairie

Teacher's Guide Chapter Author: Ashley Winston , 4th grade teacher, Goldfarb School Elementary School, Clark County School District

Chapter Overview: The traveling party has finally crossed the Missouri River. They are impressed by the bountiful lands. Soon after the Reed family started to embrace the beauty, a terrible storm occurred. The rain made it hard for the wagons to move in the muddy prairie. For the first time, the family encounter "Native Americans." Grandma was afraid of the Native American's and believed that they would scalp her. They later learned that the "tame Indians" were from Colonel Russel's camp. After trading for wagons the Reed's were on their way.

Chapter Themes: Native America encounters, A glimpse into hard times, Stereotypes

Chapter Activities

  • Language Arts
    • Writing a poem
      • On page 40 of Patty Reed's Doll Grandma recites the poem
        "Red, yellow, and Irish green, The King can't touch it, No more can the queen" This poem is a poem that that Grandma says when she sees a rainbow. Kids are to create their own A-B-A poem about any event in Patty's Reed's Doll. After going through the entire writing process, students will type their poems in the computer lab and share them with the class.
      • Standards Addressed
        • Read aloud and recite literary, dramatic, and original works. (9.4.4)
        • produce writing with a voice that shows awareness of an intended audience and purpose
    • Diary
      • Students will imagine that they are Patty Reed. Students will construct a Diary using one of Dinah Zikes folding method. The students must write two diary entries from the perspective of Patty Reed. After writing a one paragraph entry, students will draw two pictures summarizing their day.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (4)3.1 Use knowledge of character, plot, setting, and resolution to comprehend a variety of works.
        • (4)3.3 Identify historical event or cultural influence as portrayed in literature
  • Mathematics
    • Elapsed Time
      • Because of the harsh storm, the muddy trail caused the Party to travel slower. The teacher will create elapsed time word problems about the Donner Party’s travel time. After the teacher has successfully modeled the creation of word problems, students will create 5 of there own

      • Standards Addressed
        • (4)3.9 use elapsed time in quarter-hour increments, beginning on the quarter-hour, to determine
        • (4)3.11 use A.M. and P.M. appropriately in describing time [NS 3.4.6]
    • Perimeter and Area
          • In Patty Reed’s Doll there are many different animals including cows and oxen. Some of these animals live in barns. The teacher will create different “barnyards” using chalk and the blacktop. In groups, the students will measure the barnyard and find the perimeter and area of the squares and rectangles.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (4)3.6 define and determine the perimeter of polygons and the area of rectangles, including
        • (4)3.5 measure length, area, temperature, and weight to a required degree of accuracy in
          customary and metric systems
  • Social Studies
    • Map It !
      • In the beginning of the story, the teacher created an interactive bulletin board map. The teacher will discuss the journey of the Donner Party. The students will continue to chart the progress of the Reed family.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (4)3.1 Identify and use a compass rose to locate places on a map.
        • (4).4 Describe experiences of moving west, including: Donner Party, Oregon/California Trails
    • Covered Wagon
      • The Reed family travels in a covered wagon for long periods of a time. The teacher will read If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon. The teacher will explain the different parts of a covered wagon. Students will use construction paper to create a replica of a covered wagon. The students must correctly label all parts of the covered wagon.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (4).4 Describe experiences of moving west, including: Donner Party, Oregon/California Trails
        • *3)3.6 Describe the physical setting of a historical event.
  • Science
    • Rain and Rainbows. What happens?
      • After experiencing beautiful weather, a sudden storm hits the Reed Family. The Reed family is shocked by the harsh prairie weather. The class will learn about the important aspects of th water cycle.
      • Before beginning the activity, the students and teachers will complete a K-W-L on the water cycle. The teacher will pass out necessary materials to each science group ( ice cubes, plastic bag , and cups). The students will calculate the mass of the ice cub, cup, and plastic bag. After cutting holes in the plastic bag, students will place the bag in a sunny window. Students will record their results in their science journal.
      • After the experiment is complete, the students and teachers will construct a water cycle poster that shows the condensation.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (4)3.2 investigate and describe the water cycle, including the role of the sun
        • (4)1.2 use science notebook entries to develop, communicate, and justify descriptions,
          explanations, and predictions.
    • Lightning.
      • The teacher will ask the students "What do you do if you here lightening". The teacher will discuss the safety precautions we must take if we here lightening. The class will create a K-W-L using Kidpix on lightning. The teacher will explain that static electricity is the cause of lightening. The teacher will perform various demonstrations on lightening.
Demonstration 1:
  1. Spread grains of ground pepper on a small area of a desktop.
  2. Vigorously rub a plastic utensil with a wool or nylon cloth to produce a negative charge.
  3. Hold the utensil about 1 inch over the mixture and observe what happens. (The utensil will pick up the pepper.)
Demonstration 2:
  1. Darken the room as much as possible.
  2. Rub a plastic comb with a piece of wool or fur.
  3. Hold the comb near a metal doorknob.
  4. Observe what happens. (Students will see tiny sparks.)
Demonstration 3:
  1. Blow up two balloons and rub them on your sleeve.
  2. Darken the room as much as possible.
  3. Rub the two balloons together.
  4. Observe what happens. (Students will see tiny sparks.)
Demonstration 4:
  1. Run a comb through your hair (only one student should use each comb).
  2. Put the comb into a bowl of dry puffed rice.
  3. Observe what happens. (Grains of rice will stick to the comb; after they lose their charge, they will fall off.)
      • . Standards Addressed
        • (4)1.7 identify observable patterns to organize items and ideas and make predictions
        • (4)1.8 explain that many people have contributed to scientific knowledge and invention
Historical Overview of Chapter Themes

During the Westward movement, Native Americans faced a considerable amount of racism and stereotypes. Travelers believed that Native Americans were violent, disgusting “animals.”

Prior to American Expansion Native American’s roamed freely with little interaction with Americans. When white settlers first encountered Native Americans they were afraid of what they are capable of doing. White settlers saw Native Americans as beasts that needed to be tamed. White settlers attempted to Americanize Native Americans by introducing them to religion, alcohol and other white customs. Settlers had even created schools where Native American children could become “Americanized”.

This situation proves the beliefs of many white settlers. They believed that they were the dominant culture and it was their destiny to make Native Americans into better people. The assimilation, as many say proved to be harmful to Native Americans.

Additional Resources


DenberCruz said...

I think that the lesson "Lightning" (Chapter 5, Science) is a great idea. Lightning to many students is certainly a mystery and in the prairy, where the wagons could very well be the tallest things around, a very important aspect to consider. I like idea because it can introduce students to what lightning is in a non-threatening way that could even give students a greater appreciation for both nature and science.

An extension idea that I would use would include a plasma ball if the teacher has one. The plasma balls are fun because the students get to "touch" the lightning. In my experience, the students get very excited about touching the plasma ball and watching the electrical currents converge on their fingertips.

Thank you for an excellent lesson.

Denber S. Cruz

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

I love the plasma ball idea, Denber! Perhaps the class could even make one as part of a science activity.

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

Could you provide a graphic of the type of foldable to which you are referring? I'm not able to envision what you're suggesting.

Consider making the covered wagon a math activity as well. You could require that students properly scale the wagon using ratio (i.e., have them create a 1/10th size model). It would take several days to do the math, but they will never forget ratio! :-)

One book that I really like about the water cycle is from The Magic School Bus: Wet All Over (