I sometimes picture my farm as a battlefield with troops of people struggling with nature in a hundred-year war.

Germans, Italians, Chinese and Japanese, Armenians, Filipinos, and Mexicans---their voices have sounded over this farm, their families have walked these rows . . .

~ David Mas Masumoto, Epitaph for a Peach

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Lesson Plan 1


Grade Level: 3rd and 4th
Standards: 3.3 (1) 4.4 (3)



1.  Learn about the value of photographs as primary source material

2.  Explore why and how people traveled to California in the 19th century

3.  Learn how and why people were photographed between 1850 and 1900

4.  Learn about how people’s names can sometimes provide clues about their family’s history

5.   Learn to locate on a map of the world the countries from where many of the Central California settlers immigrated since 1850

6.   Learn about several immigrant cultural communities that settled in California’s Central Valley

7.  Learn about the some of the challenges faced by those who immigrated to California between 1850 and 1900



1.  Historic portrait photos

2.  Large map of the world

3.  Worksheet #1 and Worksheet #2

4.  Cameras

5.  Copies of the Foreign Miners’ License Tax Law

6.  Copies of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882



1.  Download 10 portrait photos taken between 1850 and 1900 and talk about what information they reveal about these individuals or families.  Talk about the types of portrait photographs taken between 1850 and 1900.  After discussing the photos, focus in on the cultural community of which each individual or family is a member.  Explore how names can sometimes indicate a family’s roots.

2.  Using a large map of the world, pinpoint from what part of the world these individuals or families immigrated and label them on the map.

3. Break students up into groups and give each group two photos.  Ask each group to answer several questions about the person or group in each photo using Worksheet #1.

4.  Ask each group to then answer several questions about early photography using Worksheet #2.

5.  Ask students to talk with their own family members to learn about when they came to California, from what part of the world their family immigrated, and how they came.   Ask students to talk with their families about their family names.  Ask them to write a paragraph or page about their family.

6.  Ask students to select someone from their family or a group of family members to photograph.  Provide each student with access to a camera (cameras available at school, disposable ones, or allow them to use a camera to which they already have access) and ask them to photograph their subject. The image must in some way tell something about that person or group.

7.  Then, using the same map of the world, pinpoint from what part of the world students’ families originally immigrated and label them on the map.

8.  With students, mount and display these photographs as an exhibit at the school site.

9.  Explore the Foreign Miners’ License Tax Law of 1850 and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and what these two laws meant to the Chinese.

10. Invite an immigrant to class to share with students firsthand their story.

11.  Select two cultural communities in Fresno that have come to Fresno since 1900 (e.g., Sikhs, Hmongs) and with your class learn more about them (e.g., their traditions, their food, their costumes).

12.  Explore the issues regarding immigration today.


Worksheet # 1

From what country did this person or family immigrate?

What route did they probably take to get to California?

What language did they speak?

What clothing were they most likely wearing when they arrived?

What foods did they most likely enjoy eating?

What kind of job or work do you think the father of this family took on after they came to California?

Why do you think this person or family moved to Central California?

In what ways did they change as people in the first few months of their arrival to the Central California?

What contributions did this immigrant group make to the region?


Worksheet # 2

Why do people take photographs?

What did people do before cameras were available?

If you wanted your photograph taken in 1880, how would you have done it?

What have photos looked like over the years?

What would you have done to prepare for getting your photo taken in 1880?


Last Updated Sunday, November 18, 2018 - 08:23 AM.