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Curriculum Units

This is a description of the various curriculum units offered as part of the Gold Rush Curriculum program.

Grade 4

There are two separate volumes which together explore four topics for the fourth-grade curriculum. The volumes may be used either together or independently. Spanish translations of student worksheets, songs, charts, and maps in the fourth-grade curriculum are now available by request. To order your translation packet, please check the box on the order form. Download sample pages with activities to use with your students from our web site:

4th Grade, VOLUME ONE

"A Ripping Trip"

(Grade 4)

The California Gold Rush, an international event, brought thousands of people virtually overnight to California. Many came by sea as well as overland. These materials focus on the maritime story. They introduce students to the diversity of the people who came, the places they came from and the sea routes they used.

City Life During the Gold Rush

(Grade 4)

The Gold Rush contributed to the growth and establishment of Sacramento, Stockton, Los Angeles, San Diego and a myriad of small mining towns. California's rapid, dramatic change during the Gold Rush was especially evident in San Francisco. Throughout these lessons, students will compare the development of San Francisco to the development of the city in which they live.

Fourth Grade Volume One contains:
*358 total pages
*17 color overhead transparencies
*more than 75 primary sources (daguerreotypes, journals, letters, songs)


4th Grade, VOLUME TWO

"The Diggin's"-Daily Life in the Mines

(Grade 4)

What are the characteristics of a mining town? What were the myths and realities of life in the mines? What was the lifestyle of a miner? These are some of the questions students will explore in this exciting unit on the lives of the diverse people who came to mine for gold in California. Within the lessons, diversity is evident in the individual lives that the students encounter in the art prints, the daguerreotypes and the written entries.

Mining the Environment

(Grade 4)

This unit explores the impact of the Gold Rush on the natural environment. Technology in the mines began with the pocket knife and the California Indian woven basket. These quickly gave way to the gold pan, the pan to the rocker, and the rocker to the long tom and the sluice box. By the end of the 1850s, gold production now came from hard rock mining that involved miles of tunnels under the earth or from hydraulic mining that washed away mountain sides. What were the benefits, and at what cost? Was it worth it? This unit looks at how humans deal with the environment from an historical perspective, as well as what we are doing to our own environment today.

Fourth Grade Volumme Two contains:
* 315 total pages
* 18 color images
* more than 75 primary sources (daguerreotypes, journals, letters, etc.)



Gold Rush Tools, Treasures and Thingamajigs

(Grade 4)

Bring the excitement of the California Gold Rush to your classroom with this exciting outreach kit. The kit is packed full of replica artifacts, music, a video, prints of artworks, an anthology of literature from the Gold Rush and more. Artifacts reflect the daily life of Gold Rush participants and invite students to make comparisons between then and now. Sample objects include eating and cooking utensils, toys, abacus, placer mining pan and vials of fool's gold and real gold. Accompanying curriculum explains how to set up an artifact laboratory in your classroom enabling students to explore artifacts and artworks to learn more about the past. Available for three-week loan periods. To reserve a suitcase, complete the order form.

FEE:$ 90/Oakland class $105/non-Oakland class
Suitcase can be picked up and returned to the Oakland Museum.
For UPS shipment of suitcase exhibit one-way to school, add $18.
Borrower is responsible for returning the exhibit by directly arranging with UPS.


Oct. 2   Oct. 23  Mar. 5  Mar. 26 
Oct. 30  Nov. 20  Apr. 2  Apr. 30 
Nov. 27  Dec. 18  May 7   May 28 
Jan. 8   Jan. 29  June 4  June 25 
Feb. 5   Feb. 26

The Big Rock Candy Mountain

(Grade 5)

The discovery of gold in California inspired thousands to cross the continent. What were the aspirations and experiences of the overland travelers? How do these contrast with the perspectives of the Native Americans in the West? Following overland trails, people encountered others different from themselves and confronted decisions unique to the time and place. This unit presents the West as a region defined geographically by its arid, rugged land and historically by its role as a meeting ground for diverse groups of people.

Fifth Grade Unit contains:
* 250 total pages
* 5 color overhead transparencies
* more than 50 primary sources

FEE: $75

Westward Expansion:
Gold, Greed, and Government

(Grade 8)

These materials focus on the effects on California as the "world rushed in." Housed in a three-inch binder, three separate units ask students to examine and discover the diversity and values brought to California and how these were reflected in the state's laws. Abundant excerpts from the 1849 California Constitutional Convention are provided for students' inquiry process. California's role in the Compromise of 1850 is also examined, as well as the technology of the Gold Rush and its implications on the environment and lives of the people of California. A present-day simulation asks students to take a stand on the question of approving a mining development near their community.

Eighth Grade Unit contains:
* 424 pages
* 15 color images
* more than 120 primary source materials

FEE: $120

Cultural Diversity: California's Issue in the 1850s, the Nation's Issue in the 1990s

(Grade 11)

This unit explores the topics of immigration and civil rights in the United States today, using California as a case study. Curriculum units contain more than 120 visual resources, including many contemporary and historical photographs, prints, and cartoons. A class reader with more than 75 articles with varying reading levels by authors who reflect California's diversity is also integrated into the lessons. Students inquire into the place called California, where the Gold Rush brought about interactions of Native Americans, Hispanics, Chinese, African Americans, and Anglo Americans, and look for parallels today. Concluding their historical investigation, students offer possible actions for preparing for and living in an increasingly culturally diverse society.

Eleventh Grade Unit contains:
* 425 pages
* 200-page reader with articles by culturally diverse authors
* 10 color images and more than 120 primary source materials

FEE: $120

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