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If you toured Mammoth Cave in Kentucky in the year 1838, you would have been led by candlelight through dark, winding tunnels to the edge of a terrifying bottomless pit. Your guide would have been seventeen-year-old Stephen Bishop.

Bishop needed bravery, intelligence, and curiosity to explore the vast cavern. Using only a lantern, rope, and other basic caving equipment, he found a way to cross the bottomless pit and discover many more miles of incredible grottoes and tunnels. For the rest of his life he guided visitors through the cave, showing them how to stoop, bend, and crawl through passageways that were sometimes far from the traditional tour route.

Grab a copy of this book and learn about Mammoth Cave and the fascinating life of Stephen Bishop. Our Journey to the Bottomless Pit unit study includes everything you need for a study of this story.

Thanks to Cindy West for preparing this Journey to the Bottomless Pit unit study.

Journey to the Bottomless Pit Unit Study Lessons

This unit study includes lessons and activities for social studies, language arts, science, math, and art based on the book Journey to the Bottomless Pit by Elizabeth Mitchell.

Here is a sample of the lessons found in this Journey to the Bottomless Pit unit study:

Science: Caves
One of the first things Stephen noticed upon entering the cave was the coolness. Mammoth Cave is made mostly of limestone. The limestone rock is, for the most part, completely underground. Since there is no way for the sun to warm up the air in the cave or the wind to cool down the air, the temperature remains a steady 54 degrees all year long. Use a thermometer to measure and record the temperature in various places around the house – the refrigerator, the freezer, a bathtub full of water, a pot of soil, a basement, an attic, etc. 

Science: Bats
Caves are an important habitat for bats. Not all bats need caves to survive, but some types do. Cave ceilings provide a typically safe sleeping place for bats. Since they are nocturnal and sleep during the day, the darkness of a daytime cave and the height of the cave ceilings provide a safe shelter. Typically, cave bats live in very large groups (even into the millions!) and fly out of the caves at night together. Before leaving the cave to find food, they prepare by all flying around inside the cave at the same time. This creates lots of noise and chaos. Imagine yourself wandering into the cave at just this time!

Language Arts: Foreshadowing
Reread page 17, “Again, Stephen had the feeling that there was much more of Mammoth Cave waiting to be explored.” Reread page 23, “Stephen had the sense of much more space around him. It could be above his head or deep beneath his feet. Wherever it was, he would find a way in.” What do you think is going to happen in the story soon?

You can grab a copy of the entire Journey to the Bottomless Pit unit study in an easy-to-print file at the end of this post.

Journey to the Bottomless Pit Printables

In addition to the lessons, this Journey to the Bottomless Pit unit study includes these printables for your student’s notebook:

  • Mammoth Cave’s History Notebook Page
  • Character Study Activity Page
  • Cave Formations Terms
  • Journey to the Bottomless Pit Vocabulary Page
  • $5,000! Activity Page
  • Slavery Notebook Page
  • Temperatures Notebook Page
  • Bats Animal Report Form
  • Foreshadowing Notebook Page
  • Caves in Europe Map Page
  • Free States vs. Slave States Chart
  • Secret Message Songs Chart
  • Jenny Lind Notebook Page
  • Ole Bull Notebook Page
  • Prince Alexis Notebook Page
  • Dom Pedro Notebook Page
  • Frederick Douglass Notebook Page
  • Cave Research Report Form
  • Book Log

How to Get Started with the Journey to the Bottomless Pit Unit Study

Follow these simple instructions to get started with the Journey to the Bottomless Pit unit study and printables:

  1. Buy a copy of the book, Journey to the Bottomless Pit, or borrow one from your local library.
  2. Print the Journey to the Bottomless Pit unit study.
  3. Choose the lessons you want to use with your student (a highlighter works great for this).
  4. Choose the printables you want to use to enhance the lessons.
  5. Enjoy a week of book-based learning with your student.

Download Your Free Journey to the Bottomless Pit Unit Study

Simply click on the image below to grab the free Journey to the Bottomless Pit unit study.

Journey to the Bottomless Pit Unit Study

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