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Based on a Rocky Mountain legend, Stone Fox tells the story of Little Willy, who lives with his grandfather in Wyoming. When Grandfather falls ill, he is no longer able to work the farm, which is in danger of foreclosure. Little Willy is determined to win the National Dogsled Race—the prize money would save the farm and his grandfather. But he isn’t the only one who desperately wants to win. Willy and his brave dog Searchlight must face off against experienced racers, including a Native American man named Stone Fox, who has never lost a race.from the Stone Fox summary at amazon.com
Thanks to Heidi Jasper for preparing this Stone Fox Unit Study.
Stone Fox Unit Study Lessons
This unit study includes lessons and activities based on the book Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner.
Here is a sample of the Chapter 1 lessons found in this Stone Fox unit study:
Geography and Social Studies
Talk of statehood for Wyoming began as early as 1869 after the organization of Wyoming Territory in that year. The road to statehood, however, did not begin until 1888. On July 8, 1889, Wyoming Territory held an election of delegates to Wyoming’s one and only Constitutional Convention. Forty-nine men gathered in Cheyenne during September, 1889, and wrote the constitution. The voters approved the document November 5, 1889, by a vote of 6,272 to 1,923. Bills for Wyoming statehood were introduced in both the U.S. Senate and House in December, 1889. The House passed the bill March 27, 1890. President Benjamin Harrison signed Wyoming’s statehood bill, making Wyoming the 44th state.
Activity– using an Atlas of the USA, look at the map for the state of Wyoming. Find the state capitol. What states border Wyoming? What mountain ranges are in and around Wyoming? Find the city of Jackson, where the story of Stone Fox took place many years ago. Locate the Wind River Reservation where the Shoshone and Arapaho Indian tribes lived after being moved from Utah. Stone Fox belonged to the Shoshone tribe and may have lived there. Name the major cities. Are there any major rivers in WY? Are there any interstate highways in WY today? What popular tourist/vacation spots are in WY?
Issues of Human Relationships
When Grandfather didn’t get up the next morning, Willie went to get help. Sometimes in our lives, we experience times where we have a hard time understanding what is happening to us. These are the times we do need to seek help. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness. God has created each of us with a need to reach out to others who are hurting to show them compassion and to try to help them. He also created us with the ability to accept help from others when we need it ourselves. We just need to be willing to be honest that we need help and we need to be willing to accept help. To not allow others to help you in your time of need is to deny them the blessing they’d receive by helping you.
Career Paths: Doctor
Doc Smith is a woman doctor in an age when few women had more than an 8th grade education. However, Wyoming was a very progressive state in the area of women. It could be that the author has a woman doctor who is well-known, knowledgeable, and accepted in Stone Fox as his way of honoring the progressive attitudes towards and the opportunities for women found in Wyoming even at that time in history.
Wyoming is known as the “Equality State” because of the rights women have traditionally enjoyed there. Wyoming women were the first in the nation to vote, serve on juries and hold public office.
In 1869, Wyoming’s territorial legislature became the first government in the world to grant “female suffrage” by enacting a bill granting Wyoming women the right to vote. The act was signed into law on December 10, of that year by Governor A. J. Campbell.
Less than three months later, on February 17, 1870, the “Mother of Women’s Suffrage in Wyoming” – Esther Hobart Morris of South Pass City became the first woman ever to be appointed a justice of the peace. Laramie was also the site for the first equal suffrage vote cast in the nation by a woman, Mrs. Louisa Swain on September 6, 1870.
In 1894, Estelle R. Meyer became the first woman in the United States elected to a public office – Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction.
In 1924, Nellie Tayloe Ross was the first woman in the United States elected for the office of state governor. She took office on January 5, 1925, 20 days before “Ma” Ferguson of Texas (elected on the same day) took office. Mrs. Ross went on to become the first woman to be appointed Director of the United States Mint, a position she held for 20 years.
Vocabulary : explanation, palomino, preceded, examination
Comprehension Discussion Questions
- Why did Willie find his plate in the chicken coop one morning?
- What does Willie tell Doc Smith that finally convinces her that something is seriously wrong with Grandfather?
- The chapter mentions three times that Grandfather cries and his beard fills with tears. What caused him to cry each time?
- What does Doc Smith believe is wrong with Grandfather?
Literature is divided into different types or kinds called genre, depending on what kind of writing it is. It can be non-fiction, biography, fiction, drama, fairy tale, fantasy, legend, and tall tales. Stone Fox is considered a Legend. A definition of legend is a traditional, historically-based tale about people and the meaningful feats they did which is handed down first by word-of-mouth and later in written form.
Using Correct Grammar
In the author’s biography, we learned that Mr. Gardiner had poor grammar skills and that Stone Fox was written after the author took a class where the instructor was more concerned about creativity than grammar and spelling.
In Chapter 1, we have an example of a grammar rule that is easily confused and broken: The Correct Use of “real” and “really”
“real” is an adjective and answers “What kind?” It should never be used as an adverb; We saw a real bear. What kind of bear? Real bear. Adjective. It was a real dog that barked. What kind of dog? Real dog. Adjective.
“really” is an adverb and is used to modify a verb or another adverb and describes HOW; I am really sorry. How sorry am I? Really. Adverb. Grandfather is really sick. How sick? Really. Adverb.
The statement, “I feel real happy” is an incorrect use of grammar. One should say, “I feel really happy.”
Activity – Look at these sentences from Chapters 1. Are these sentences grammatically correct? If not, correct them. (The first two are incorrect, the word “really” should have been used; the last one is correct.) The author may have used the word “real” instead of “really” to more closely imitate informal speech and to emphasize the point that Willie was still just a child.
(pg. 4) Grandfather always got up real early in the morning.
(pg. 6) We went to bed early, real early.
(pg. 10) It’s a real sickness, all right.
Write about a time you spent at your grandparents’ house. How old were you? What did you do? What did you see? What did you eat? Did you spend the night, if so, where did you sleep? What did you and your grandparents laugh at?
Hope vs. Worry- It seems that Grandfather has lost hope in the future because of worry. Read Psalm 25; Psalm 46; Psalm 42: 5, 6; Isaiah 26:3; Matthew 6:19-34; John 16:33; Romans 8:28; Hebrews 13:5, 6. What is it that Grandfather has forgotten? What would you tell him, if you could?
You can grab a copy of the entire Stone Fox unit study in an easy-to-print file at the end of this post.
How to Get Started with the Stone Fox Unit Study
Follow these simple instructions to get started with the Stone Fox unit study:
- Buy a copy of the book, Stone Fox, or borrow one from your local library.
- Print the Stone Fox unit study.
- Choose the lessons you want to use with your student (a highlighter works great for this).
- Enjoy learning about sled dogs, family relationships, and more with your student.
Download Your Free Stone Fox Unit Study
Simply click on the image below to grab the free Stone Fox unit study.