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UAA 590 ASDSA 11 Lesson Plan #3



Thomas Rushford

Jean Mitchell

Lesson Plan #3

Grade 3




The student will understand how the discovery of gold in California helped in the western expansion of our country.  The students will see that if a creative person sees a need they will fill it.

 James W. Marshall found gold at Sutter’s Mill in 1848.  This discovery of gold in California caused many people in the United States to move west in search of gold. This gold fever also caused a global sensation.  People from all over the world came to California in search of gold.  Some came with families and very little belongings.  They were called the forty-niners.  Some were successful while others did not.  Some found success in other areas.

 This story will show the feelings of a family, especially a girl their age saw an opportunity, seized it, and help develop a mining area into a growing town with her ingenuity.


Materials Needed:


  1. World Map
  2. United States Map
  3. Book “Boom Town” by Sonia Levitin
  4. Computer to view actual pictures of Sutter’s Mill, and gold rush towns.




            The students will be given background information about the California Gold rush from 1848-1855.  They will also learn about the discovery of gold by James W. Marshall at Sutter’s Mill in 1848 and the impact it have in the development of California.  People from all over the world and the United States left their life styles, their belongs and came to California and a very different lifestyle.  People had to adapt to their new surroundings.  Some people found “gold” in other avenues. 

            Maps will be used to locate where people came from in the story and where they are now.

            We will read the story “Boom Town.”  This is a story about Amanda’s family that came west.  Her family sold everything and was in the mining town.  Her father went to the find gold.  Amanda’s family now lives in a small cabin.  The west is so wide and lonesome and with her father off most of the week prospecting for gold she was able to change her life.  She gets a hankering for pie and armed with a cast iron skillet, a bucket of gooseberries and ingenuity she makes a pie.  Her father goes to look for gold during the week, and then comes home on the weekends.  He brings some pie for him to eat, but his fellow miners buy the pie from him.  He at least brought home some money.  Word spread about her pies and it became a business for her family to earn money.  She had customers from various parts of the world that wanted to know where they could get certain services.  She suggested that they start these businesses such as livery stable, restaurant, bank, laundry, store, school, and church.   The town grew, with buildings, not tents, roads and sidewalks into the type of town that people can move to and live.  Amanda can now call this new town home.  They found their gold in services that people needed.  This also led to the development of the West.

            The students at their level will see that the development of the western frontier came from people who wanted to have a better life for their families.  This had a major impact on the growth of our country.




            Students will locate the areas of development by using a map.

They will also write about the story “Boom Town” discussing the major impact it had on our country’s development.  They will make a drawing or model of the town with its major new businesses.   






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