Beyond the river stretches the interminable prairie, where the fields of harvested wheat lie wrapped in slumber; . . . . The light stealing upon the broad shadows, first touches the tops of the prairie wagons. . . . Then, making more and more progress, it shines. . . and at last, in full glory of splendor, brings out the yellow of the cultivated fields and the course brown of the sandy soil.

~ Picturesque America, 1872

Decrease Font Size
Increase Font Size

Lesson Plan 4


Grade Level: 3rd and 4th

Standards: 3.3 (1) 4.3 (2, 3) 4.4 (1, 3, 4)



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

2.  Become familiar with the location of California’s Central Valley on a map and how 19th century immigrants accessed it by land and by sea

3.  Explore the everyday lives of some of California’s 19th century immigrants

4.  Learn about the many cultural communities that immigrated to California in the 19th century ---the challenges they faced, the contributions they made, where they settled

5.  Learn about the ingenuity and inventiveness in the 19th century that helped make farming in California’s Central Valley possible

6.  Learn about the value of scrapbooks as primary source material



1.  Historic scrapbook pages

2.  Internet access

3.  Scrapbook pages (blank)

4.  Scrapbooking supplies



1.  Down load pages from historic scrapbooks.

Discuss with students what the pages tell about the person or family that put  the scrapbook together, about the period of time when it was made, etc.

2.  Find someone you know who has a scrapbook (a parent, grandparent, friend, neighbor) and look through their scrapbook with them.

3.  Break the class into groups---set each group up to create a scrapbook that would have been made by a particular 19th Century California pioneer.


1. Someone living at Sutter’s Fort

A 49er

A family who immigrated from another country to a farm in the Valley

Someone immigrating to California on a train

Someone immigrating to California on a wagon train

Chinese immigrant from China who worked on railroad in the 1870s and then settled in Fresno’s Chinatown

2.  Talk with students about the range of things a scrapbook might include:

Clippings from newspapers



Diary-like entries

Hand-drawn pictures


Pressed leaves, flowers

Objects of sentimental value (e.g., hair ribbon, medals, hair, piece of fabric, feather)

Letters received from others

Greeting cards



3.  Instruct each group to:

collect research on the individual whose scrapbook they are to make use that research to design their scrapbook----list the pages and the content to be covered on each page

assign each member of the group page(s) to produce including the cover

assemble the scrapbook

Ask each group to share their scrapbook with the rest of the class.  Use each scrapbook as a teaching tool to explore early California history.

Last Updated Sunday, November 11, 2018 - 03:10 PM.