Nine for California
|Author: Sonia Levitin
Illustrator: Cat Bowman Smith
Summary: Amanda travels by stagecoach with her four siblings and her mother from Missouri to California to join her father.
Unit Prepared by Lisa Dickinson
Heirlooms (Quilts and Trunks) -
The flour sack was made into a family keepsake - a quilt full of emotional memories from their 21-day trip or move West. If you have any family heirlooms or quilts that you’d like to share with your kid now is the time to consider putting them on display! How about an old cherished family a trunk? You might be surprised to learn some new family history if you ask relatives about trunks…we sure did!
It is interesting study to research the history of Trunks. We learned humped trunks were 50 cents more than flat trunks.
Create cards containing Five Fast Facts about each state. These could be the state bird, flower, flag, and any other two facts or persons you want your child to remember. Cut out 50 star patterns from construction paper, big enough for your cards to fit in. Decide ahead of time if you would prefer to color code your states to your own teaching needs. We simply chose to divide the 50 states into five groups of ten representing the order they joined the Union in groups of 10. We used the first five colors of the rainbow to make it easy to remember (first 10 states will be on red stars, second 10 states will be on orange stars, you get the idea!) If order is not a priority for your child, you could use all blue stars and line them on red and white striped timeline or on three poster boards connected together with the red stripes added. Write the state in the center of the star and place the flag sticker under it. Lay the stars out and have child pile cards on the correct state stars. For state facts, refer to any of these books:
State Coloring Books
Cantering the Country
My Father’s World State Fact Sheets (www.mfwbooks.com sells the flag stickers)
Exploring the 50 States by Marcie Anderson
Wooden Rubber stamp of the United States by Rubber Stampede to stamp on the back of the star and color in the actual state.
Cricut Machine/50 states cartridge
If you would like to notebook about the 50 states, check out these resources:
Online State Coloring Pages
Where is... ? Notebook Pages
State Flower & Bird Coloring Pages
If you would like to lapbook about the 50 states,
check out these resources:
Where is...? Shutterfold Books
State Symbols Tab Books
State Flower & Bird Minit Books
Also, if you are lapbooking, you could punch holes in each of the five start points, use color coordinated yarn to hang each fast state fact from the points of the stars or keep stars on a 3 ring.
The California Gold Rush –
“There’s gold in them there hills!” Gold was found at Sutter’s Mill, January 1848. There was more than one Gold Rush in the history of the world; but we are focusing on the famous California Gold Rush because this is where our story takes place.
John Sutter was a rich immigrant from Switzerland. He left Switzerland bankrupt and in debt and came to America with hopes of starting over and succeeding. Sutter and other settlers arrived in Sacramento in the summer of 1839 and created a trading post named “New Helvetia” or “New Switzerland”. He obtained some land from the Mexican governor (present day California land) and had big plans of building his own “empire” or city on these thousands of acres. He built a fort with the help of local native Indians. Everyone in town knew or worked for John Sutter. He had thousands of cattle, sheep, and acreage. In 1847 he planted 2000 fruit trees.
Sutter hired a friend, James Marshall to build a sawmill. Marshall chose an area by the South Fork American River, which was thick with Pine trees (the right wood for lumber) and perfect for building a working sawmill. One January morning in 1848, while John was working on the mill in the South Fork of the American River he discovered some bits of …yes, gold! (The valley called Cullumah “Beautiful Valley” named by the Nisenan Indians who lived there.) This is debatable. Some books state workers children found bits of gold first. He was so excited to tell his friend and boss of his discovery! They met on a rainy night and pulled out the encyclopedia and scales and tested this mineral…Yes, gold was discovered January 24, 1848. John Sutter was very concerned about his fort and his farming…he was already a rich man and the thoughts going through his head were about others inviting themselves onto his “not yet official” land to claim gold as their own! He and James made an agreement not to tell anyone until crops were planted. How can news like that not spread? And spread it did.
This was the beginning of the California Gold Rush! The US Supreme Government told Mr. Sutter that the title to his land was invalid so he could not claim this gold as his! People came from all over the world to dig for gold. This is why it’s nicknamed the Rush. This disease of greed or hope was contagious and spread worldwide…“gold fever”! Unfortunate for John Sutter, many lawless land squatter’s and thieves invaded his land.
People traveled any way they could by foot, boat, or horse. The actual year of the great Gold Rush was 1849. Men traveled for months out west to give gold digging a try and with big hopes of returning home with riches added to their names. Sadly, of the 90,000 who had this dream few actually did “strike it rich”. At the end of the gold rush $50,000,000,000 worth of gold was dug from our earth! The largest chunk of gold found weighted 195 pounds and worth $43,534.00. Mr. John Sutter and James Marshall were in the common crowd and never did make their fortunes from the Gold Rush days. The prospectors moved east and the Comstock Lode in Nevada was one of the richest discoveries in gold and silver. North into Montana and south into New Mexico gold was also discovered!
Though the original Sutter’s Mill was destroyed in a flood, you can visit a replica of the Mill in Columa, California. There is also a museum with artifacts from the Gold Rush and original timbers from the first Sutter’s Mill.
John Sutter's Journal Entries and Powerpoint slide
show of Gold Rush
Teacher's Guide to go along with the PBS American Experience show "Gold Rush"
Excellent summary of Sutter's life
History of James W. Marshall
History of Sutter's Mill with photos
Gold Rush California
1852 - Wells Fargo Founded
1860 - Pony Express
1866 - Wells Fargo owned and operated stage lines.
1869 - Transcontinental Railroad
1906 - San Francisco earthquake
1918 - end of the stage line.
If you don’t have a timeline, they can be obtained here: www.homeschoolinthewoods
For further information about water wheels, visit Water Wheel History This is 3 pages, thorough, one stop print and learn page! However, it does mention Persians worshipping the winds as gods. Think back to bible history…the mighty Samson and his final stages of pushing a mill wheel.
History of the Piggy Bank
Has your child ever wondered where the idea for a Piggy Bank came from? Nobody actually invented the piggy bank. “Pygg” is a type of orange clay. Used in the 15th century in Old England, Potter’s made all kinds of objects out of pygg, including dishes and jars to keep spare change. By the 18th century the word “pygg” sounded the same as the word for “pig”. Someone made a “pygg” jar in the shape of a pig. Perhaps an order came in for a pygg jar and the potter misunderstood! To see over 180 different kinds of piggy banks, you may want to view this site.
Homeschooling or Car Schooling
The children would practice orally reciting math facts, nature studies, geography, as their mother requested them to do so without complaining! This story is an encouragement to see the mother teaching her children even in the midst of a certified schoolteacher! Miss Camilla said, “Children should be seen and not heard.” At the end of the story Miss Camilla, the schoolteacher gives Mama her perfume bottle and says she’ll never forget them. Sometime along the way, Mama and the kids must have left a good impression on this schoolteacher! Mama gained the respect of the Banker, the schoolteacher, the Cowboy…over the course of 21 days!
The mail was delivered by Wells Fargo stagecoach. It was always a big ordeal to see the stage in town! Before the stagecoach routes west, it would take up to a year to travel across the country from coast to coast! The stagecoach cut this time down to just 32 days!
There were special rules for those riding on the stagecoaches. Here is one version of the rules:
a driver asked a passenger to get out and walk, one was advised to do so,
and not grumble about it.
~If the team of horses ran away, it was better to sit in the coach because most passengers who jumped were seriously injured.
~Smoking and spitting on the leeward side of the coach was discouraged.
~Drinking spirits was allowed, but passengers were expected to share.
~Swearing was not allowed, and neither was sleeping on your neighbor's shoulder.
~Travelers shouldn't point out spots where murders had occurred, especially when "delicate" passengers were aboard.
~Greasing one's hair was discouraged because dust would stick to it.
Ask your child how he thinks riding in an automobile would compare to riding in a stagecoach. During the era when stagecoaches were used, there was no pavement, windows, seatbelts, or powerful engines. According to the Omaha Herald in 1877, "Don't imagine for a moment you are going on a picnic. Expect annoyance, discomfort, and some hardships. If you are disappointed, thank heaven." Maybe your child would like to make a stagecoach out of Knex or other building toys.
real photos of stagecoaches from East to West coasts
all kinds of stagecoaches
Black Bart was the stagecoach robber name for Charles Earle Bolles.
Charles Bolles was honorably discharged from the Civil war army, educated, and mannerly, known for his politeness. When it came to his side job of robbing stages, he dressed in a long black coat with a flour sack over his head. He would jump out from the tight corners on the routes and demand, “Please throw down the box!” He never robbed or shot at passengers. He never used a horse. He left pieces of his poetry signed with his name as PO8, and he never even had a bullet in his gun!
of Black Bart's poetry:
“Let come what may, I’ll try it on
My condition can’t be worse
And if there’s money in that box,
‘Tis money in my purse.”
He successfully robbed 27 Wells Fargo coaches over a period of 8 years. A Wells Fargo detective, Hume, estimated that Black Bart had successfully stolen $18,000 from Wells Fargo & Co. plus $7-8,000 from the mail bags.
When he wasn’t robbing stages, he was a prominent Mine owner living the good life in San Francisco.
Finally, a Wells Fargo detective was able to trace a dropped handkerchief with initials on it back to his laundry mat in San Francisco. After 18 days of being caught and identified as the criminal, he served 4 years in the San Quentin Prison in California Black Bart was let off on good behavior . After being released, he disappeared from public.
This was written by Hume in 1885 in a wanted poster…
“He, Black Bart, is a person of great endurance, a thorough mountaineer, and a remarkable walker, and claims that he cannot be excelled in making quick transits over mountains and grades; when reading with out glasses, holds paper off at arms length, is comparatively well educated, a general reader, and is well informed on current tendencies, and since his arrest has, upon several occasions, exhibited genuine wit under most trying circumstances. Has made his head quarters in San Francisco for past eight years, has made but a few close friends, and those of first class respectability is extremely proper and polite in behavior, chaste in language, eschews profanity and has never been known to gamble, other than buying pools on horse races and speculating in mining stocks.
A real photo of Wells Fargo WANTED poster 1880’s
Heaved -- cast, hurl
Jostled -- to run or knock against so as to jar : push roughly
Shaft -- one of two poles between which a horse is hitched to pull a vehicle
Startled -- to move or jump suddenly
Stagecoach -- a coach pulled by horses that carries passengers and mail and runs on a schedule between established stops
Twitch -- to move or pull with a sudden motion
Lurched -- to roll or tip suddenly
Wrung -- to squeeze or twist especially so as to make dry or to rid of moisture or liquid
Lariat -- a rope with a noose used to catch livestock or to tie up grazing animals; also known as a lasso
Letter Writing Skills
Pa sent a letter by stagecoach to tell his family to move to California. Ma couldn’t pick up her cell phone and call him back, she had to hand write a letter and send it through the United States Mail System - the Post Office.
Practice the old fashioned skill of handwriting a letter to a distant family member. Write about the book you're studying this week and tell them your favorite part of the story.
Review the parts of a letter
There are five main parts to a friendly letter.
The heading gives the date that the letter was written as well as the complete address of the person who is writing the letter.
The greeting tells to whom the letter is written. The most common greeting is "Dear __________".
It is considered impolite to use only the person's name as a greeting.
The body is the letter itself.
The closing is a polite way to say goodbye. (Sincerely, Sincerely Yours, etc.)
The signature is the name of the writer.
You also should discuss (or review) how to address an envelope as well as where to put the stamp. Mail it and see if you get a reply back from your relative.
You may also want to discuss letter writing etiquette and that it is polite to reply to sender in a timely manner.
Your student could also recreate Pa’s letter to his family using a dipping pen and calligraphy ink.
What makes a word a compound word? Two separate words put together as one. Can your student find any compound words in this story?
List of compound words from the story:
stagecoach, shotgun, outlaw, without, goodbye, cowboy, grownups, hummingbird, milkweed
Levitin has chosen to include lots of various literary devices to keep her story fresh and fun. Use this opportunity to introduce a specific literary device or to review the ones you've studied in the past.
A figure of speech in which things different in kind or quality are compared by the use of the word like or as.
Examples from the book:
“As quick as a wink.”
“We smelled like wet cats.”
“My stomach rolled over like the wooden wheels of the coach.”
“We saw brown and shaggy beasts, like a huge dark stain on the fair prairie grasses.”
A specific word, phrase, or structure is repeated several times, usually in close proximity, to emphasize a particular idea.
Repetition of words in this story creates rhythm and anticipation. Point out the repetitive sentence the author chose to use-- “I wished something would happen. And it did.” Does your student like hearing this phrase over and over throughout the story? Why? How would the story be different without it?
The repetition of a sound at the beginning of two or more neighboring words (as in wild and woolly or a babbling brook)
"We slept in the stage jostling and jiggling.”
Can your student find the example of alliteration in the above sentence? Are there others throughout the story?
The representation of a thing or idea as a person
Examples from the story:
“…beans and prunes acting up.” Who is usually accused with acting up? Plants or children? The author chose this phrase in order to make the plants seem like children which adds an element of humor.
“and the long long hours moaning by” Can hours moan? Why did the author use this phrase?
This story uses a lot of exclamation points. Have your child practice reading some of the sentences emphasizing the words in an exclamatory sort of way!
Example: “We heard the pounding of horses and terrible yells: “Yip! Yip! Yeeiow!” “Indians!” shouted Cowboy Charlie.”
If you’re liken’ to dress up as our books characters here’s a list of props. Gather ‘em up and throw ‘em in an old suitcase!
Momma - flour sack or bonnet
Banker - a black hat
Cowboy-lariat or rope
Teacher - perfume bottle necklace
Shot Gun Rider - play gun or water gun and a treasure chest add your money and gold coins
Driver - a whip
Robber - red bandana
Cowboy/Pioneer dress up attire including’ your braids and bonnets!
Amanda - white pinafore, bonnet, pioneer dress
Creating Movement and Drawing Motion
The cover of a book can tell a lot about what’s inside! Our cover is very busy-- hinting toward a very busy story! Look at the cover of our book. See if your child can give ideas to hint motion or movement. Here is our list of visual effects:
are the horses? The driver is holding the reigns; but the horses have moved
2. The coach is at an angle going uphill.
3. There are sketches around the wheel to hint toward motion and moving.
4. The title and artist/illustrator is not written in a straight line…again we see motion and movement.
child time to recreate a drawing or list more ways the artist shows movement.
Throughout the book there are many more examples of motion and movement. Ask
your student to find examples.
Find the page of traveling at nighttime. Since watercolor is transparent, it is easy to achieve the look of night time by using a large brush and applying a grey tone of watercolor over the entire photo
Let your child experiment with night time water color washes. This is good practice to see lots of water is needed to create the transparency for a wash.
Study the page of the robbers wearing the masks…notice how the hand is out of perspective. The artist emphasizes the greed of the robbers by exaggerating his hand.
Wells Fargo Bank
Most children love to pretend play. You can teach your student different aspects about money as you play Wells Fargo Bank!
~Practice teaching your child how to write a check.
~Teach your child about loans, bank statements, and credit (what are the benefits and disadvantages of using credit?)
~Open a savings account, teach some basics about interest
A younger student could do some piggy bank math.
The wheel on the stagecoach is fractioned off into 12 pieces. Make a paper wagon wheel and use strips of construction paper to lay on top of the wheel to see the different fraction combinations. Let your child explore fractions using more strips of construction paper see if they can make the wheel into 12 fractions like the wheels on the stagecoach.
Travelers were only allowed 25 pounds of luggage…what would you pack? Let your student gather up the items he would want to pack and weigh them on a scale. Would he be allowed on the coach? Have him pare his luggage down until he has a mere 25 pounds.
Travelers had only 15 inches of sitting space. Measure 15 inches. How many passengers can fit on your couch?
Amanda stated “At the stagecoach stop about a milLion people came to greet us. One of them was my pa.” We hear people use the word milLion often. Most of the time it is used as an exaggeration to make a point. Help your child visualize what exactly a milLion would look like.
Books to read together by John Schwartz
is a MilLion?
On Beyond A MilLion , An Amazing Math Journey
MilLions to Measure
One MilLion looks like this -- 1,000,000
There are one milLion sugar grains are in a 2 pound bag of sugar ( or a few cups)
There are one milLion grains of salt in 1 cup
would it take to count to a milLion? Well, counting once per second (easy at the
start, but tough when you reach the hundred thousand mark), eight hours per day,
seven days per week (no weekends off), it would take you a little over a
month to count to one milLion!”
visuals of a milLion
Math Facts: Nine Family
There were nine people in the stagecoach: three facing forward, three facing backward, three in middle. Let your child learn or review his nine family facts for addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division.
The children would recite what they knew to pass the time. Does your student know how long a minute is? Hour? Day? Week?
How many minutes in a hour?
How many hours in a day?
How many days in a week?
The element, gold, is abbreviated on the periodic table as AU. It is a precious, rare, and soft metal found in the earth.
Here are some basic gold facts (from from a small book called Start Your Own Gold Rush by Carol Benanti) :
~Gold is 19.3 times heavier than water.
~Gold is almost indestructible, does not rust, blacken from heat, moldable when melted or flattened when melted. Examples, one square inch of gold can be flattened to the size of a football field! A book with flattened pure gold pages would be 367,000 pages and only be one inch thick!
~Gold is melted at 1063 degrees C. (1947.52 °F)
If you've rowed The Bee Tree (FIAR Volume III), and your student started a gold collage, add to it. If you don't already have a gold collage, start one now! Look through magazines and online pictures. Cut and paste things made from gold on to one page.
Gold at the Natural History Museum
“…Mama pulled the sack out from under me…Pepper! She cried. I reached for a jar of red pepper and gave a handful to everyone…”
Red Pepper also known as Cayenne Red Pepper. Spaniards discovered the plants in the new world and brought them back to Europe.
to the American Spice Trade Association, “red pepper” is the preferred name for
all hot red pepper spices. Cayenne Pepper is the same type of product. Some
manufacturers use the term Cayenne Pepper to refer to a hotter version of Red
The pepper is made from the fruit of a plant in the Capisicum family originating in Mexico and Central America. (chili peppers) It is red or orange pods that grow about 4 inches.
Many different ethnic foods (Mexican, Creole, Cajun, Thai, Szechaun, etc.) use this kind of pepper to spice up the flavor in various dishes. Indians in Peru and Guatemala use this pepper as a medicine.
The Nervous System
The nervous system is made up of two parts: nerves and the spinal cord/brain. The spinal cord is actually a very thick mass of nerves inside your spine. Your brain is connected to your spinal cord. The nerves have a very important job, they are the message carriers to your brain.
Draw an outline of your body. Add your brain and spinal cord (an older child can add the nerves as well). Orally narrate to someone how your nervous system works. The nervous system lets you know when to sneeze and when to hiccup.
Why does pepper make you sneeze?
Your nose houses over five milLion scent receptors! You detect scents with these highly sensitive nerve endings The degree of sensitivity varies among different people.
Pepper contains an irritant or chemical compound called piperine. When piperine gets in your nose, it releases a chemical called histamine. Your reaction is to get rid of the foreign substance….This makes you sneeze! Or the buffalo sneeze!
No one knows the exact cause of hiccups; but we do know the process. First a nerve sends the message up your spinal cord very quickly. This message makes you automatically gulp in air causing your throat to close. The hiccup sound is the noise of the air hitting your closed throat. Sounds very interesting; but simply remember that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. God designed your body to do this for protection! Review Psalms 139 and write it on the bottom of your hiccup illustration.
Go-along book: Why I Sneeze, Shiver, Hiccup, and Yawn by Melvin Berger
Go on a nature walk this week and find some milkweed. Draw Milkweed in your nature journals.
Milkweed is a plant that is poisonous. Glycosides. There are over 100 species that contain various amounts of toxins. Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on the plant so the caterpillars can begin munching away on the leaves so they can inject the poison into their predators.
Extremely popular in the southern United States, corn pone is an eggless cornbread that is shaped into small 2-3 inch ovals and fried or baked.
2 cups white corn meal
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups cold water (or enough to make a soft mixture that can be spooned like pancake batter)
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
oven to 475*F (245*C). Mix corn meal, salt and water. Heat oil in a 9-inch round
iron skillet in the hot oven until hot. Carefully spread mixture evenly in hot
skillet and spoon some of the fat that comes to the edges up on top of the
batter. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Broil for the last 2 to
3 minutesto make it extra golden brown and crispy around the edges. Makes 8
If you want something with a little more flavor....
Tennessee Corn Pone
Serving Size : 6
2 cups pinto beans -- seasoned, cooked
1 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups buttermilk
1 egg -- slightly beaten
Heat beans until quite hot and pour into a lightly greased 8x8-inch baking dish. Preheat oven to 450.
Mix the cornmeal, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Melt the butter and combine with buttermilk and egg.
Stir the wet and dry ingredients together until smooth, and pour them over the hot beans. Bake on the top rack of your oven until bread is a rich golden color and the sides of the corn bread pull away from the sides of the pan-about 30 minutes.
There are five varieties of cornbread, Johnny Cakes, Corn Pone, Hush Puppies, Skillet Baked and Hot Water baked cornbread. Mark Twain wrote about his opinions of corn pone
“You tell me whar a man gits his corn pone, en I'll tell you what his 'pinions is." Mark Twain
~Learn more about the Prairie
~Learn more about buffalo (see Homeschool Share's unit- Where the Buffaloes Begin)
~Learn more about the Plains Indians
~Build a water wheel
Boomtown! by Sonia Levitin
Just for Fun
The World's Best String Games by Joanmarie Kalter
Super String Games by Camilla Gryski
Cat's Cradle, Owl's Eyes: A Book of String Games by Camilla Gryski
How much is a MilLion? by John Schwartz
On Beyond A MilLion , An Amazing Math Journey by John Schwartz
MilLions to Measure by John Schwartz
Why I Sneeze, Shiver, Hiccup, and Yawn by Melvin Berger
Start Your Own Gold Rush by Carol Benanti
Striking It Rich by Stephen Krensky (easy reader)
The Real Book of Gold by Harold Coy
Landmark The First Overland Mail by Robert Pinkerton
Landmark The California Gold Rush
Cornerstone of Freedom The California Gold Rush
Getting There: Frontier Travel Without Power by Suzanne Hilton
Stagecoach: The Ride of a Century by Richard Mansir
Chapter or Audio Books
By The Great Horn Spoon by Sid Fleischman
Riding Freedom by Pam Munoz Ryan
Reading Rainbow Video based on the book Meanwhile Back at the Ranch
Just for Fun
~Spelling with Snakes!
If you have a spelling list this week, allow your student to form each letter of the word with “snakes" of rolled out clay. Change the color of clay for hard to remember letters in difficult words. Have child trace letters of clay with his fingers as he says the words.
~Paper Model of a Stagecoach!
~Play with Lincoln Logs and build a Wild West Town!
~Watch some cowboys do rope tricks; try some lassoing of your own. Line up 2 liter bottles and get out some hula hoops. Can your student stand back and "lasso" the 2 liter with the hula hoop?
~To pass time the children played Cat's Cradle. Learn and play string games (see library list for book suggestions). String fingering is an ancient game played worldwide. In times past, string fingering was associated with religion and mythology. Missionaries helped suppress the dark side of string fingering by converting pagans to Christians.
~The children also named all the plants, animals, birds, presidents, states, oceans, and countries of the world. Then they sang every song they knew. Play these games with your children. Have your child make up his own game that would help pass time.
~Learn some Pig Latin!
Learning Pig Latin
Pig Latin at Wiki
~Teach your children the song Brother John in French (Frere Jacques) this week
~Field Trip Ideas
Colorado Field Trips
Visit Wells Fargo Museum or Bank with museum display.
Gold Prospecting in Colorado and real gold mines to tour in photos of real chunks of gold/boom towns
General Field Trips
Visit a working sawmill
Visit a western antiques store
California Field Trips
San Francisco Wells Fargo Museum
~Make a Quilt (with continuous knots)
Tying Continuous Knots may be a new technique to teach your child . This link gives visual directions.
This is basically a running stitch needle down and up without cutting your thread until the end of the row. Snip the threads to create ends to tie and tie all at once which will save you tying time.