The ground surface is so nearly level that you have no sense of contour. . . . It is not a former lake, although in large part it is a former swamp. Geology characteristically repeats itself around the world and down through time, but---with the possible exceptions of the Chilean Longitudinal Valley and the Dalbandin Trough in Pakistan---the Great Central Valley of California has no counterpart on this planet.

~ John McPhee, Assembling California

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Lesson Plan 6


Grade Level: 3rd and 4th

Standards: 3.3 (1) (3) 4.3 (2) 4.4 (3)



  1. Explore what it means to be a pioneer
  2. Become familiar with several Central California pioneers and their contributions



  1. Internet access
  2. Worksheet #1



  1. Explore definitions of a pioneer.
  2. Open up an area or prepare a way; "She pioneered a graduate program for women students"
  3. Hhelp to open up a new line of research or technology or art
  4. Initiate: take the lead or initiative in; participate in the development of; "This South African surgeon pioneered heart transplants"
  5. Settle a new territory (first colonist or settler); "they went west as pioneers with only the possessions they could carry with them�
  6. Explore a new area; "pioneer space"
  7. Study the information on several Valley pioneers.
  8. Using this information and any other research students can pull together, break students up into groups and have them complete Worksheet.

3rd Grade

  1. James Porteous
  2. M. Theo Kearney
  3. Minnie Austin & Lucy Hatch
  4. Minnie Eschelman

4th Grade

  1. Gabriel Moraga
  2. John C. Fremont
  3. Henry Miller
  4. Colonel Allensworth
  5. Explore what it took for these people to do what they did. List pioneer qualities (e.g., creativity, determination, focus, persistence) Talk about whether anyone can have pioneer qualities.
  6. Make a list of today's pioneers.
  7. Ask students to interview someone about a time when that person showed qualities of a pioneer. Ask students to write a page or paragraph about it.
  8. If possible, invite someone who has invented something, or started something, or initiated something to talk with the class about what they did and what it took to do it.


Worksheet #1

Why is this person a pioneer? What did this person accomplish?

What did this person have to learn or know how to do in order to accomplish what they did?

How did what they accomplish change our part of California?

What qualities do you think it took to be a pioneer?

Do you know someone who has those qualities?

What would you want to pioneer?

Last Updated Tuesday, November 13, 2018 - 08:19 AM.