Chapter 9: Fourth of July at Fort Laramie

Teacher's Guide Chapter Author: Donelle Stevens, 4th grade teacher, MJ Christensen Elementary School, Clark County School District

Chapter Overview: This chapter describes the activities that the traveling party participated in on the 4th of July at Fort Laramie as well as their encounters with the Sioux tribe.

Chapter Themes: 4th of July customs, Pioneer and Indian relationships

Chapter Activities

  • Language Arts
    • 4th of July
      • Students will write a short paper about how their family celebrates their Independence Day.
      • SW write informative papers with a clear focus using a variety of sources. SW use expanded vocabulary in writing: action verbs, adjectives conjunctions, figurative language, and transition words.
        • (4) 5.2
        • (4) 5.8
    • If you traveled west in a covered wagon
      • Students will write a list of items that they would bring with them as they traveled west. Make sure that they explain why these items would be necessary.
      • SW write compositions of at least one paragraph with a main idea and supporting details. SW produce writing with a voice that shows awareness of an intended audience and purpose.
        • (4) 6.5
        • (4) 6.8
  • Mathematics
    • Mapping the Way
      • Have students figure the distance they have traveled thus far. Map how much farther they have to go. Have students figure the party's pacing marking and allowing for days stopped.
      • SW measure, compare, and convert length in inches, feet, yards and miles to the nearest fractional party. SW measure length, area, temperature, and weight to a required degree of accuracy i customary and metric systems.
        • (4) 3.3
        • (4) 3.5
    • Baking Powder Biscuits
      • Students will be using measurement to make, bake, and eat their own baking powder biscuits. Similar to what the Pioneers may have eaten
      • SW compare and describe fractions and/or decimals, as nearer one whole number than another. SW describe the need for fractions and their relationship to whole numbers and decimals.
        • (4) 1.4
        • (4) 1.5
  • Social Studies
    • What is the 4th of July?
      • Students will read the Declaration of Independence and put it into "kid friendly" writing.
      • SW understand the people, events, ideas, and conflicts that led to the creation of new nations and distinctive cultures
        • 6.0
    • Get to know your Sioux
      • Students will study the traditions and lifestyle of the Sioux Indians through Pioneer encounters
      • SW describe experiences of pioneers moving west. SW read historical passages and interpret details
        • (4) 4.4
        • (4) 4.12
  • Science
    • Wildlife along the trail
      • Students will research wildlife then and now along the Oregon trail using the website:
      • SW understand that living things live in different places. SW understand that life forms change over time, contributing to the variety of organisms found on the earth.
        • L2C
        • L8D
    • Time Zones
      • Students will study the rotation of the earth in relation to time zones.
      • SW investigate and describe how the earth is nearly spherical. SW understand the interactions of science and society in an ever-changing world.
        • (4) 3.5
        • N8B
Historical Overview of Chapter Themes

Although these travels encountered many Indian tribes, the Sioux were eventually pushed away due to the westward expansion to Oregon. As the pioneers moved through, the buffalo also were driven away. Ultimately causing the Sioux people to leave if they wanted to survive. The Sioux people were the largest tribe north of Mexico. People don't know why this tribe moved from the east to the north central part of the country. This tribe of people resisted the temptations of the white man but eventually ended up acquiring horses and guns for hunting purposes. You can only imagine how scared they must have been when seeing the mirror in the wagon or the young girl with the looking glass. Although the girls thought it was funny, I am sure the Indians didn't feel the same way.

Additional Resources



Shana Prue said...

I love your idea of having the kids convert measurement and then make biscuits. I think that activity does double duty as a math activity and social studies activity. I also really liked your idea about looking into fourth of July traditions. I am on track break when that holiday happens and it seems like a forgotten holiday. As for the traveling west in the covered wagon activity......I love it but it seems like if would be more appropriate for a beginning of the book chapter and not so far into the novel....that would be my only suggestion :)

Shana Prue
5th grade Teacher
Bendorf Elementary School

rich said...

Incorpating measuremnet in the route is an excellent idea. There are so many ways to use in this activity. Traveling distances, conversions, speed formulas, weight distribution, etc.. Letting the kids be creative in making their own standards of measurement allows them to take ownership of their projects which is gret motivator.

ELEE273 said...

I like the idea of having the students mapping their distance. My students love to use the map and allowing the students to measure the distance and making conversions is certainly higher order thinking. I also like the way you included writing and allowed the students to make connections to the text by writing a short paper about how they celebrate July 4. Next the students could use a double bubble map to make comprisoons between their celbrations and the celebrations in the text.

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

Great idea to have students put the Declaration into "kid friendly" terms. Perhaps they could also draw pictures, or maybe memorize the Preamble. Perhaps they could create a video using pictures that demonstrate the concepts of the manuscript using a form similar to Eric Langhorst's Constitution Day video (

Consider having an individual from the Bureau of Indian Affairs come speak to your class about different tribes from a historical perspective.

Can you think of any hands-on ideas to supplement your science activities?