Grade 5
My Class to Yours


Oregon Trail Diary
Use with Unit 7
Written by Joann Latuf
Grade 3 Teacher
Crestview Preparatory
La Canada, California USA

On beige or light brown construction paper, cut out the shape of a cowboy boot, about ten or twelve inches tall. Lightly draw pencil lines across (to guide writing), with about half an inch between each line. Have students write a diary entry, dated the time of the Oregon Trail trips, about what they saw and did on this day of their journey

From Sheet to Sheet
Use with Unit 3, Chapter 8
Written by M. Harris
Grade 3 Teacher
Willow Elementary School
Lakewood, California USA

After reading Chapter 8, students will extend the framework concept of CHANGE and learn about the changes in their local community (town) and transfer the facts onto a sheet of paper from a cloth sheet interaction activity.


  • a large cloth bedsheet (I buy tan)
  • 5x7 index cards
  • marker
  • sequence of events (history of your town)
  • items to represent the facts (Asking the class to bring in items to represent the concept provides more ownership but you may want to bring in several items.)


  1. The teacher randomly hands out respresentative items to students with a label word card to match the item. If a toy cow is distributed then the index card would have the word cow printed on it. Every student holds a sequence item and a word card.
  2. The teacher or storyteller starts the story of (town's name) by saying, "First came the land. . ." (and spreads out the tan cloth sheet). The teacher also puts down the word card land. "Then came the river. . ." and the item for the river (we used a blue plastic bag twisted) with the word card is placed on the sheet. Continue adding and taking away items as your town story goes, i.e. : When our storyteller says "and the drought came and killed all the cows" all the toy cow figures get knocked down. When the storyteller says "and the railroad was built" the tracks are placed down. This continues until you reach the decade or time you wish to show. (Seeing the words and items help students get an understanding of the changes and they can then transfer the infomation to a sheet of paper and write about the evolution of their town.)
  3. Suggestion: It is best to repeat this layout for several days with different students placing different items. Repeating it over and over allows students to get the total picture.-- First came the land and the air, San Gabriel River,the Tungva people,then came the Spaniards,then the cows,the drought,the missions,the Ranchos,the Bixbys,the railroad, hogs and frogs, dairy farmers, the Lakewood Mall then the City of Lakewood.
  4. As the students place their items down provide details about each aspect. Basically, you are telling the story of the town with help from your students. As you say "the cows" the student holding the cow feels important placing his/her item on the sheet. It is an auditory & visual hands on lesson. You can add ideas as you go. One of my students starting shaking the sheet and said, "In 1933 there was an earthquake." Timelines, paragraphs and stories can be transfered from this visual floor sheet.
  5. Putting it away, I have found it fun to say we are going "back in time" and as I pick up the City Hall and retell the story in reverse having the students join in -- as the card is being picked up they read the words "city hall," etc. Some years I have the students tell the story and I place the items as they tell the story after repeating it over and over.
  6. We store all the items in a cardboard box and each day create a Social Studies circle around our sheet and start the story of Lakewood (our city). Students bring in items & ideas to improve on our symbols. Photo copies of the famous people in the town history can be made into paper dolls and incorporated.

My Own Beach
Use with Unit 1, Chapter 1, Lesson 1
Written by Sherri Hawley
Grade 3 Teacher
Independence Elementary School
Bakersfield, California USA
E-mail Address:


  • To identify the ocean as a natural resource and create a beach scene.
  • To learn the form of Diamante poetry.
  • paper
  • sand
  • white glue
  • blue construction paper
  • glue brushes


  1. Discuss different types of beaches (rocky, white sand, dark sand).
  2. Have students make "beaches" by brushing glue across the bottom of light blue construction paper and sprinkle sande on the glue.
  3. When their papers are dry, let them paste on precut sun and boat shapes to create summer beach scenes.
  4. Next the students will place a Diamante poem on the "beach."

    Diamante Example
    Sandy, Salty
    Fishing, Watching, Splashing
    Wales, Flounder, Trout, Plants
    Rippling, Moving, Growing
    Small, Clear

Do the Wave
Use with Unit 1, Chapter 1, Lesson 1
Written by Sherri Hawley
Grade 3 Teacher
Independence Elementary School
Bakersfield, California USA
E-mail Address:

Students will learn that:

  • waves are generated by wind,
  • waves have an effect on the coastline,
  • erosion is the wearing down or washing away of the soil and land by the movement of water.
  • Inflatable globe
  • baking pan 4-5 inches deep
  • electric pan
  • water
  • sugar cubes
  • spray bottle
  • sand
Activity 1
Fill a pan with 2-3 inches of water. (You may want to place a toy boat in the pan). Place a fan 1 foot from the pan. Ask the students to predict what will happen when the fan blows across the water's surface. Turn on the fan at low speed. Discuss what happened. Now using a higher speed discuss the results.

Activity 2
Have the students draw a picture of what a coastline looks like. In the empty pan that was used in activity 1, build a coastline out of sugar cubes. (This should be built in sort of a step-like formation.) Spray the coastline with the water bottle until you see some sort of change occurring (when the sugar starts to melt). Have the students draw a picture of the coastline after spraying the water. Were their predictions correct?

Activity 3
Ask students how sand dunes are formed. Place sand in the pan in a pile. Turn on the fan on low speed and observe what happenes. Could you make the whole pile move if you blew long enough?

Discuss the term erosion with the students. Explain that these experiments were examples of one form of erosion. (Waves caused erosion of the coastline and the wind has an effect on land and water.)

Information Web
Use with Unit 2, Chapter 4
Written by Sherri Hawley
Grade 3 Teacher
Independence Elementary School
Bakersfield, California USA
E-mail Address:


  • Creating an information web by using information from Chapter 4
  • Using Drawing program from Claris Works
  • Using the Library menu
  • Using the tool bar
  • Changing font and text size
  • ClarisWorks
  1. Go to the File menu and drag to New to open new document. Select Drawing and then click OK.
  2. Then go to the File menu and drag down to Library and then over to Arrows. A small window listing several arrow graphics will appear on the screen.
  3. By clicking one time on a list item, a preview picture will appear in the window. Choose the graphic 007 for the project. Highlight your choice and click Use. The graphic will appear on the drawing document.
  4. Adjust the size of the graphic by highlighting the graphic. To do this, click on the image once so that a small, dark square appears in each corner. Then click on the lower right square and drag the square to create the desired size.
  5. Move the graphic by clicking on the image and dragging it to the desired location.
  6. File..Save the document.
  7. Select the text tool from the tool bar. Place the cursor in the upper left portion of the space in the center of the arrows; then click and drag to make a text box.
  8. Type the name of your tribe in this space.
  9. Repeat procedures 1 and 2 in order to place a text box at point of each arrow on the graphic. Then in each box, type a piece of information discovered about the featured tribe.
  10. Changing the size and font of the text is quite easy. Simply highlight the text to be changed, then go to either the Size or Font menus and drag to the desired selection.
  11. Using the File menu, drag to Save and then Print. Personalize the web by using markers or crayons to make illustrations of the information in the spaces beside each text area.

    Flour Tortilla Tipis
    Use with Unit 2, Chapter 5, Lesson 1
    Written by Sherri Hawley
    Grade 3 Teacher
    Independence Elementary School
    E-mail Address:


    • The students will make a tipi and use homemade dyes, food coloring, or watercolors to decorate it.
    • Flour tortilla (1/2 per student
    • Frosting (1 tablespoon per student)
    • Straight Pretzels (4 per student)
    • Real fruit dye, food coloring or watercolors and paintbrush
    • Toothpicks (1 each)
    • After students have read the lesson (Unit 2, Chapter 5, Lesson 1) on Following the Buffalo, the class will discuss how the Cheyenne would leave their homes to hunt buffalo. They camped along the way in tipis.
    • Make a tipi by:
      1. Cut a large flour tortilla in half.
      2. Have students decorate their tipi with fruit dyes (watercolors optional). Make sure that the straight edge of the tortilla is farthest away from them. The round edge should be closest.
      3. Place 1 tablespoon of white icing in the center of the tortilla on the straight edge where the original cut was made.
      4. Fold tortilla to make a cone shape tipi.
      5. Place a toothpick to hold the edges together.
      6. Stick Pretzels into the icing (this will look like sticks coming out the top).
    • Display the tipis, together to look like a village, at open house.

    Cereal Sand Painting
    Use with Unit 2, Chapter 6, Lesson 2
    Written by Sherri Hawley
    Grade 3 Teacher
    Independence Elementary School
    Bakersfield, California USA
    E-mail Address:


    • The students will learn how to sandpaint.
    • White and yellow cornmeal
    • Malt-o-meal (brown colors)
    • Glue (not glue sticks)
    • Rubbing alcohol
    • Food coloring
    1. After reading Lesson 2 and discussing how the Navajos use sand painting to help sick people get well, the students will make their own sand painting. On tag board, have students create a Navajo design with their pencils.
    2. Make "sand" and fill into paper cups:
      • Malt-o-meal for brown colors of "sand".
      • Yellow cornmeal for yellow colors of "sand"
      • White cornmeal mixed with rubbing alcohol and food coloring for additional colors of "sand".
    3. Using one color at a time, apply the glue to the penciled areas and sprinkle with the desired color of cereal.
    4. Shake the excess off and move on to the next color desired and repeat the process. (You might want to use lunch trays to trap the excess cereal to be reused).

    The Buffalo Skin Poem
    Use with Unit 2, Chapter 5, Lesson 1
    Written by Lisa Harris
    Grade 3 teacher
    Maricopa Elementry School
    Maricopa, California USA


    • Students will be able to use a picture as a form of communication to share a story with others.
    • Students will work in cooperative groups.
    • Students will display finished work.
    • Students will orally share a story.
    • Brown grocery sacks or brown butcher paper.
    • Black crayons/markers or ink pens.
    • Story in Teacher's manual From Sea to Shining Sea page 79 a and b.
    1. Draw on paper sacks a buffalo skin shape. Tear or cut the shape out. Crinkle the paper to make it look old and used. Put the paper aside.
    2. Read the class the story. Discuss the story and its meaning. In small groups or as a class, decide what pictographs the students are to use to represent each character in the story.
    3. Break into small groups and draw the story of "The Gift of the Sacred Dog" on their buffalo hides.
    4. Have each group share and tell the story in front of the class. Put the hides on a bulletin board as a display.
    • Use water colors or chalk to color the pictographs.
    • Mount the hides of a railroad board frame by punching holes in the edges of each hide and using yarn to sew/lace onto the frame.
    • Make more hides, try making a tepee by lacing them together and putting them on a frame as shown on text pages 82-83.
    • Use pictographs to explain an important event in the students' lives.

    Dance Sticks
    Use with Unit 2: Chapter 5
    Written by Joni Simon and Joyce Yamagishi
    Grade 3/4 teachers
    Westlake Hills Elementary School
    Westlake Village, California 91362 USA

    Objective: Students will make a Dance Stick (makes the sound of rainfall) after learning about the Native American dances and ceremonies.

    We did this fun project following Chapter 5, "Over Waves of Grass." This chapter is about the Medicine Dance and the Cycle of Nature. The Dance Sticks were a hit with our parents at Open House.


    • Mailing tube--at least 12 inches long (longer tubes can be used)
    • Flat head nails (should be about 3/4 the diameter of the tube)
    • Hammers
    • Tempera paint (various colors)
    • 2 cardboard end pieces (slightly larger than openings)
    • Masking tape
    • Construction paper circles (approximately 3 inches wider than the opening of tube)
    • Rice and beans--approximately 1/4 cup
    • Feathers and beads (optional)

    The children spent several days working on these easy-to-make Dance Sticks. They worked in small groups. Here's how we did it:


    1. Hammer in nails approximately 1 inch apart along the seam line (which rotates around the tube). The nails were easy to hammer in because the tube is easy to penetrate. Hammer in nails all the way.

    2. Design the outside of the tube with tempera paint.

    3. Secure one end. Place cardboard circle over the opening. Masking tape was used around the edges. We also placed masking tape over the entire circular cardboard end.

    4. Place rice and beans inside the tube. The students must use both rice and beans to make the beautiful water sound. Add or subtract rice and beans to get the sound you want.

    5. Repeat end closure.

    6. Cover both ends with large construction paper circles. Glue circle on each end and push extra paper over the ends. You can fringe the edges of the construction paper. Tie colored yarn around each end.

    We also had the students write a paragraph about the dances and ceremonies of Native Americans. They gathered this information from the text. The students made final copies of this paragraph on index cards which they tied on the Dance Sticks.

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