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Teach the California Gold Rush From Multiple Perspectives in 4th Grade

Teach the California Gold Rush from Multiple Perspectives in 4th Grade

The California Gold Rush is viewed by some historians as a positive period in U.S. history with an economic boom that gave rise to the growth of towns and cities in the California region. But some historians view the Gold Rush less favorably and argue that the "get rich quick" quest resulted in only a few people becoming wealthy. Historians also argue that the negative impacts on Native Americans and long-term environmental harm outweigh the economic boom.

If you are a California 4th grade teacher gearing up to teach the Gold Rush, or if you are planning to cover this period in your upcoming social studies unit, it is important that our students have an opportunity to learn about this period from various perspectives. While textbooks often focus on the white gold-seekers of the period, the stories of Native Americans, African Americans, Chinese Immigrants, and even women often get overlooked.

I've put together a virtual field trip that focuses on building background knowledge of the Gold Rush from Sutter's Mill to a tour of several boom towns, as well as a look at this period from various perspectives. This trip covers how and why people traveled to California and the routes they traveled. It also focuses on the effects of the Gold Rush on settlements, daily life, politics, and the physical environment.

Gold Rush Virtual Field Trip for California 4th Grade

One of the things that I love about technology is that we can bring history to life for our students. Whether they are learning in the classroom or from their bed at home, virtual field trips offer an interactive learning experience. This virtual field trip includes Google Earth™ exploration which is always a hit with students!

Students will travel and learn about Sutter's Mill, San Francisco, Rich Bar, and Bodie. This virtual field trip includes a tour of Bodie, California, a boom town turned ghost town. The panoramic features and available technology allow students to virtually "walk" the streets of this mining town. Used in combination with the informational text, short video clips, and critical thinking questions, this virtual field trip is set up in a meaningful and engaging format.

California Gold Rush Boom Towns Activity for 4th Grade

And, it's all set up and ready to go to save you precious prep time. This activity also makes great sub plans as it's self-paced, can be teacher-led as a whole group activity, or can be assigned as independent work.

You can check out all the details of this virtual field trip here: California Gold Rush Virtual Field Trip


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