Baltimore Curriculum Project Draft Lessons

Introductory Notes

These lessons generally follow the grade-by-grade topics in the Core Knowledge Sequence, but they have been developed independent of the Core Knowledge Foundation. While the Core Knowledge Foundation encourages the development and sharing of lessons based on the Core Knowledge Sequence, it does not endorse any one set of lesson plans as the best or only way that the knowledge in the Sequence should be taught.

You may feel free to download and distribute these lessons, but please note that they are currently in DRAFT form. At this time the draft lessons on this web site do NOT have accompanying graphics, such as maps or cut-out patterns. Graphics will be added to this site later.

In participating BCP schools, these lessons are used in conjunction with the Direct Instruction skills programs in reading, language, and math. If you use or adapt these lessons, keep in mind that they are meant to address content and the application of skills. You will need to use other materials to ensure that children master skills in reading, language, and math.

Second Grade - American Civilization - Lesson 11 - Robert Fulton and the Steamboat


Tell the advantages of the steamboat.


Pictures of various types of boats

Suggested Books

Landau, Elaine. Robert Fulton. New York: Franklin Watts, 1991.


Robert Fulton was born in 1765 and died in 1815. He was an artist by profession. While he is sometimes credited with the invention of the steamboat, he was actually responsible for the commercial production and success of it. Fulton presented his steamboat to America in 1807; however, steamboats were in use as early as 1787.


Ask the children if they have ever had a chance to ride on a boat. Discuss the different types of boats that there are. List rowboat, foot-powered paddle boat, power boat, sailboat, canal boat, etc. Show pictures of as many as possible and talk about the way that each is powered.

Tell the children that around the early 1800s most travel by boat was on a sailboat, row boat, canal boat or keel boat, which had long poles that the sailors used to push the boat along. The sailboat, rowboat, and keel boat were great to ride in if you were traveling the same way the river was flowing but traveling back up the river was tough. You needed wind to help the sailboat and strong arms to use in the row boat and keel boat. Of course, you couldn't use the canal boat at all unless you had a mule, a tow-line and a path.

Say: Finally a new boat came along that solved the problem of traveling upstream and it provided faster travel, too. That kind of boat is called a steamboat. Be sure that the children understand how steam is produced. Be sure that they do not confuse steam with smoke. Tell them that wood was used to heat water that would then produce steam to run the engine.

Tell them that Robert Fulton, an American who had been living in Europe, brought the idea of the steamboat to America. He had tried unsuccessfully to sell his idea in France and in England. Some Americans had already been trying steam power on boats so it wasn't a totally new idea, but Fulton made the idea available to everyone. The Clermont is the name of Fulton's famous steamboat that was used in New York.

The steamboat made it possible to travel by water even if the wind was not blowing. This was very important if you needed to go somewhere in a totally calm day. The steamboat made it possible to get to a location faster, too.

Ask: Can you think of any disadvantages of the steamboat? If the children say they cannot, ask them to think about a pot full of boiling water. Have they ever heard the whistle of a teapot? Do they know what can happen if there is too much water in a pot and it begins to boil? Tell them that sometimes terrible accidents happened with steamboats. They were useful, but it was important to be very careful.

Tell the children that steamboats became the major means of transportation on the


Second Grade - American Civilization - Lesson 11 - Robert Fulton and the Steamboat

Mississippi River, and steam powered ferryboats carried passengers from New Jersey to New York City. Have students find these locations on the map. Explain that the steamboats that traveled the Mississippi were very large and attractive. People enjoyed travel, good meals and companionship on these vessels. These large boats could also carry large amounts of supplies and materials as well. Steam power on boats and railroad engines continued to help America grow.

As a review at the end of the lesson ask the children to recall the advantages of steam powered boat travel (faster, did not depend on wind or muscle, could be used to travel upstream) and the disadvantages (needed fuel, engine could explode).

Have the children look at the number of waterways in America and emphasize the importance of steam power in America's growth.


Second Grade -American Civilization - Lesson 12 -"Trail of Tears"


Relate events in America that led up to, and followed, the "Trail of Tears."



Classroom map of the United States

Suggested Books

Jeffers, Susan. Brother Eagle, Sister Sky-A Message from Chief Seattle. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1991.

Stein, R. Conrad. The Trail of Tears. Chicago: Children's Press, 1993.

While not a read aloud, portions from this book may be shared.


During the years from 1830-1840, Cherokee and other Indian tribes were forced to leave their homes in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, and travel across the country to the Indian Territory which is now called Oklahoma. It is estimated that one out of every four Indians died and were buried along the route known as the "Trail of Tears."


Tell the children that while many wonderful things were happening in America in the 1800s, some very sad things happened, too. One of the saddest and most shameful things that happened was what happened to the Native Americans.

Ask them to recall the man who invented an alphabet for his people (Sequoyah). Ask: Does anyone remember the tribe to which he belonged? (Cherokee)

Say: The Cherokee lived in houses just like the other settlers did. They dressed in the same style of clothing as the white man. They made and followed laws like those of the U.S. Government. The Cherokee wanted all people to live together.

Tell the children that other tribes of Indians felt the same way as the Cherokee. They shared their knowledge and helped the settlers with farming and hunting. For awhile it seemed that these two groups of people might be able to live together.

As more settlers came to America the land in the east became more crowded. People often did not trust those people who looked different or spoke a different language. Men in the government decided that Indians should all be moved to the land west of the Mississippi River. This was called the Indian Removal Act.

Some Indians decided to move, but many wanted to stay where they had built their homes and were raising their families. Fights broke out between the Indians and the people who wanted them to move.

Say: Gold was discovered in Georgia and settlers rushed there. They wanted the homes and land where the Cherokee were living. The Cherokee went to the government and asked for help. Ask: Do you remember that the Supreme Court was set up to decide the answer to problems like this? That is who the Cherokee asked. The judges said that the Cherokee could stay in their homes.

That is not what happened, however. The government said that since the Indian Removal BCP DRAFT HIST 28

Second Grade -American Civilization - Lesson 12 -"Trail of Tears"

Act was passed all Indians had to leave. Soldiers came and forced the Cherokee to leave their homes. Sometimes the people were allowed to take only the clothes they were wearing. The government said that money for food and supplies would be given, but it never was. The Cherokee houses were robbed and everything these people had was taken from them.

The Cherokee people were forced to walk over 800 miles to the land we now call Oklahoma. Have children locate Georgia and Oklahoma on the map. Have a child trace the route that the people would have taken, from Georgia, up through Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri; down through Arkansas, over to Oklahoma.

It took more than one year for the Indians to travel to the new land. They were forced to travel over the Appalachian mountains, to walk without shoes in the snow and freezing mud, and to cross the Mississippi River. Many people died. The Cherokee people called the route that they followed "The place where they cried." Today we call this route the "Trail of Tears."

When the Cherokee people got to Oklahoma, the government promised that they could live there "as long as the grass shall grow and the streams shall run." Ask: Do you think that is what happened? It did not.

Ask the children to think about all the changes in America that had just been happening. Ask them to name the changes in transportation. Be sure that they mention the Erie Canal, the transcontinental railroad and the Oregon Trail. Ask: What did all these things make it easier for people to do? (move across the country) Ask the children what they think happened when many more white settlers came across America. Be sure that they recognize that more and more of the land was taken away from the Indians and they were forced to live in certain restricted areas. Tell the children that Americans still had a lot to learn about living together in harmony.

If possible, read some stories from various Indian tribes to the children. (Some are recommended in the Sequoyah lesson.) Brother Eagle, Sister Sky-A Message from Chief Seattle is especially good because his words give a very clear picture of how Native Americans view their homeland.


Second Grade -American Civilization - Lesson 13 - Oregon Trail


Identify items that would have been necessities to the pioneers.

Make a quilt block (optional).

Compare jobs of child today to jobs of a pioneer child.



Map of the United States

Pictures of covered wagons

Pictures of quilts, a quilt


Suggested Books

Ackerman, Karen. Araminta's Paint Box. New York: Atheneum, 1990.

Wonderful story of a paint box that when separated from its owner travels down the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, across the mountains at the South Pass, and on to the Oregon Trail. Map included.

Byars, Betsy. The Golly Sisters Go West. New York: Harper & Row, 1985.

Byars, Betsy. The Golly Sisters Ride Again. New York: Harper Collins, 1994.

Byars, Betsy. Hooray for the Golly Sisters. New York: Harper & Row, 1990.

The performing Golly Sisters, May-May and Rose, have hilarious adventures as they travel west in their covered wagon. (I Can Read Books) Humorous fiction, punctuated with few facts.

Coerr, Eleanor. The Josefina Story Quilt. New York: Harper & Row, 1986.

Faith, her parents, brother, and her pet hen, Josefina, travel west in a covered wagon. Along the way they meet unfriendly Indians, robbers, and the other problems faced by the pioneers. Faith chronicles the trip by making quilt squares. (An I Can Read Book)

Durell, Ann, ed., The Diane Goode Book of American Folk Tales and Songs. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1989.

Wonderful collection that includes "Clementine", "Buffalo Girl", and "I've Been Working on the Railroad."

Gerrard, Roy. Wagons West. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1996.

Tells of the travel from Independence to Willamette, interesting illustrations.

Harvey, Brett. My Prairie Year: Based on the Diary of Elenore Plaisted. New York: Holiday House, 1986.

Life of a young girl and her family that sequences a typical week and tells how they survived a tornado, a blizzard, and a prairie fire. (Read aloud)

Harvey, Brett. Cassie's Journey: Going West in the 1860's. New York: Holiday House, 1988.

Cassie's family travels west to California from Illinois. This read aloud is based on true accounts.


Second Grade -American Civilization - Lesson 13 - Oregon Trail

Henry, Joanne Landers. Log Cabin in the Woods: A True Story about a Pioneer Boy. New York: Scholastic, 1988.

Chapter book that recounts the life of Ollie Johnson and his family in Indianapolis in 1832.

Levine, Ellen. ...If You Traveled West in A Covered Wagon. New York: Scholastic, 1986.

Answers questions one might ask ... if you traveled west in a covered wagon.

Patent, Dorothy. West by Covered Wagon - Retracing the Pioneer Trails. New York: Walker and Co., 1995.

Wonderful photographs of a reenactment of the journey west. While everything is not entirely authentic there are still many great close-ups that enhance the story.

Sanders, Scott Russell. Aurora Means Dawn. New York: Bradbury Press, 1989.

The Job Sheldon family travel from Connecticut to settle in Ohio. Based on actual account.

Van Leeuwen, Jean. Going West. New York: Dial Books, 1992.

The first year of a pioneer family. Good illustrations and references to the practical needs of moving west and the emotional upheaval it frequently caused.

Wright, Courtni. Wagon Train: A Family Goes West in 1865. New York: Holiday House, 1995.

An African-American family travels west in a covered wagon. Virginia, the girl, recounts the family's adventures with snakebite, hunger, and a broken wagon wheel as they head to California. (Read aloud)


Baycura, Debra. Patchwork Math 1 - 100 Addition and Subtraction Reproducibles

Baycura, Debra. Patchwork Math 2 - 100 Multiplication and Division Reproducibles. New York: Scholastic, 1990.

Wonderful quilt patterns with brief history notes are used to make math worksheets.

Cobb, Mary. The Quilt-Block History of Pioneer Days. Brookfield: Millbrook Press, 1995.

Wonderful illustrations and an informative text tell the stories behind many quilt-block patterns. A map, recipes and several projects are included with the history in this reference book.

Freeman, Russell. Children of the Wild West. New York: Scholastic, 1983.

Great photographs of wagons and emigrants during the 1840s.

Matthews, Leonard J. The Wild West in American History - Pioneers. Vero Beach: Rourke Publishing Co., 1989.


There is so much good literature available relating to the story of the Oregon Trail. It is recommended that you select at least one book and share it with the class. This lesson provides BCP DRAFT HIST 31

Second Grade -American Civilization - Lesson 13 - Oregon Trail

the basic information and some activities, but there is much more that can enhance this study. The Oregon Territory was made up of the land that is now the states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and parts of Montana and Wyoming. The Oregon Trail extended from Independence, Missouri to Oregon City, Oregon and from the 1840s through the 1850s.


Say: Suppose someone told you about a place where the flowers bloomed all year, that had tall trees and big forests, with rivers and streams filled with fish. The potatoes that grew there were so big that they popped right out of the ground. You would want to go to see this wonderful place.

Tell the children: This is what the people who were going to Oregon thought they would find. They packed up as many belongings as they could and joined a wagon train, which was made up of many wagons led by a person who was the leader. The wagon train went from Independence, Missouri to Willamette Valley, Oregon. (Have the children find and follow on the map.) The wagons were wooden, around 25 feet long, with a canvas top that was stretched over big wooden hoops. The front wheels of the wagon were smaller than the back ones so it would be easier to steer. As the wagons were pulled by oxen, mules, or horses across the high grass of the prairie, they looked like sailing ships and so they were called prairie schooners.

It was difficult to choose what to take along since there was so little space. Ask: Can you think of things that the pioneers had to take along? (cooking utensils, bedding, tools, food and water, clothing, medicine, rifles, cows, chickens, etc.) Challenge the children to think of as many as possible, giving the reason to include the item, and list them inside a covered wagon you have drawn on the board.

Say: The trip took about five or six months and usually began in May after the spring rains. The pioneers waited until then because they did not want the wagons to get stuck in the mud and they did not want more water from the rains causing the rivers to overflow.

Ask: What jobs do you think children had while they traveled west in their wagons? Tell the children to think about their own jobs. As the children suggest them, list the jobs inside the outlines of two children (one from 1840, one from today) you have drawn on the board. If the job spans both time periods ask how the work is the same or different. (Washing dishes, done in a barrel or creek while today they are done in a dishpan or sink with running water.) Be sure to include gathering fuel, including buffalo chips (droppings) which made good fuel with little smoke and no odor; milking the cow; washing clothes; hanging strips of meat to dry; gathering berries; shaking out the quilts and blankets; fetching water; and cooking. Of course, minding younger siblings seems to always be a responsibility.

Ask: What do you think the children on the wagon train did for fun? Tell the children that it certainly wasn't possible to watch TV or play computer games. The children played simple games like hide and seek, they sang songs and told stories, and some learned to sew or play the harmonica.

Be sure to discuss the dangers that existed and remind the children that there were no stores along the way or doctors you could visit. Sometimes people ran out of food or water and sometimes they were injured so badly that they died. The pioneers were willing to take a chance because they believed that a wonderful new land was waiting for them.

Tell the children that the trip on the Oregon Trail was just the beginning; once the pioneers arrived in Willamette Valley, all new adventures began.


Second Grade -American Civilization - Lesson 13 - Oregon Trail


If you wish to do a quilt activity with the children, the suggested books should provide a good basis. The Josephina Story Quilt is a great story for an introduction to quilting. The Quilt-Block History of Pioneer Days provides both patterns and directions. The Mailbox-Primary, Dec./Jan. 1996-97 devotes several pages to quilts called "Cozy Collectibles."


Second Grade -American Civilization - Lesson 14 - Pony Express


Identify the problems faced by riders for the Pony Express.

Design a stamp depicting something related to this period in U.S. history.


Hand-addressed envelopes, commemorative stamps

Pictures of horseback riders ca. 1860, pictures of camels

Copy of the ad on chart paper or on board

Classroom size map of the United States

Blank stamp sheets, patterns enclosed

Suggested Books

Miller, Robert H. The Story of Stagecoach Mary Fields. Morristown: Silver Press, 1995.

Account of the life of Mary Fields (1800 - 1882), a sixty-year old woman who was the first African American ever to carry the United States mail.


Lake, A.I. Pony Express. Vero Beach: Rourke Publications, Inc., 1990.

Polley, Jane, ed. American Folklore and Legend. Pleasantville: The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., 1978.

Van Der Linde, Laurel. The Pony Express. New York: Macmillan, 1993.


The Pony Express lasted for only sixteen months and was soon outmoded by the telegraph. However, during its existence the Pony Express provided a way for mail to get across the country to California, where many settlers had traveled due to the Gold Rush. The need for the Pony Express was not just for personal mail, but to get out the news about the impending Civil War.

If at all possible, obtain the book, The Story of Stagecoach Mary Fields. This book is a wonderful tale of the first African American ever to carry the U.S. mail. Mary Field's age and gender are worth celebrating as well.


Hold up the envelope and ask the students to identify what it is. Ask how many have ever had mail delivered to their houses. Ask: How many people have ever sent a card or a letter? Ask: Did the person to whom you sent the card or letter receive it? How long did it take to get to them? Did it take as long as a year? Did it take a month? Did it take just a few days?

Tell the students that back around 1850 it sometimes took as long as a year for a letter to get to someone in California because it went on a ship (from the Mississippi River) all the way around South America and back up to the west coast of North America (show on map). You would ask a person to take the letter with them and deliver it. The person would not be a


Second Grade -American Civilization - Lesson 14 - Pony Express

mailman, just a person going on a trip.

Tell the students that, needless to say, the folks in California didn't like having to wait so long at all. They didn't know what was happening with their families and friends and of course,

they never got any invitations to anything!

A group of men thought that they had a way to solve the problem and their solution had to do with this ad that was printed in the Alta California, March 1860.



not over eighteen. Must be expert

riders willing to risk death daily.

Orphans preferred. WAGES $25 per

week. Apply, Central Overland Ex-

press, Alta Bldg., Montgomery St.

Explain the ad to the students telling the meaning of any words they may not know. Say: This was an ad for mailmen!

Tell the students that these were very special mailmen because they delivered the mail on horseback and they drove through rivers, over mountains, through deserts (sometimes riding camels); in rain, snow, sleet, and scalding heat while being worried by wild animals, Indians, and outlaws.

The Pony Express riders, as they were called, each wore a red flannel shirt, blue pants, a hat, and they carried three guns, a knife, a horn, a Bible, and two mail sacks that weighed twenty pounds.

The men had to be able to shoe a horse (explain if necessary) and switch horses in less than two minutes. Speed was very important! Riders went from station to station on their way west. At a station they could get a fresh (rested) horse. They could also get water and supplies and switch with another rider who would continue the trip. The Pony Express took ten days to get a letter to San Francisco, California from St. Joseph, Missouri.

The Pony Express had a motto or saying which was, "The mail must go through! ...neither storms, fatigue, darkness, mountains, or Indians, burning sand or snow must stop the precious bags. The mail must go!" It is very much like the modern saying, "Neither rain, nor sleet or snow will keep the mail from getting through." In fact, the modern saying comes from the old.

Ask the students if they think they would have liked to be a Pony Express rider in the 1860s. Explain that the pay was quite good for that time but the work was dangerous. Discuss any ideas they might have.

Tell the students that the mail had to have stamps just like our mail today. Tell them that they will design a stamp for something that was happening in the United States at that time. Suggest that they could draw Pony Express riders or one of the tall tale heroes. They could also draw an Indian or a covered wagon or whatever they would like to show. Tell them that the stamp should have the words US Postage on it and the value of the stamp. Allow the students to look at a variety of stamps before starting their own.

When the stamps are completed display them in your room.


Second Grade -American Civilization - Lesson 15 - Transcontinental Railroad


Listen to and sing a work song.

Complete a train of facts about the construction of the transcontinental railroad.


Classroom map of the United States, world map

Pictures of steam trains

Pictures of railroad crews at work

Recording of "I've Been Working on the Railroad," words and music included

Suggested Books

Cohn, Amy L., ed. From Sea to Shining Sea. New York: Scholastic, 1993.

Fraser, Mary Ann. Ten Mile Day and the Building of the Transcontinental Railroad. New York: Henry Holt, 1993.

Not a read aloud, but good illustrations and pictures of tools and supplies.


In 1866, after the Civil War had ended, there were no railroad tracks west of Omaha, Nebraska. The government funded a competition between the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific to complete a line to the west coast.

Approximately 12,000 men participated in this endeavor, many of them recent immigrants from Ireland and China; many more were soldiers who had just fought against one another in the War of the States. The work was hard and dangerous with workers away from home for months at a time.

As well as being a time of exciting growth, this was a sad time in America's history, too. Prejudice against groups of people based on their language and appearance occurred and once again Native Americans were driven further from their land.


Ask the children to name different kinds of transportation while you list them on the board. Encourage the children to include hot air balloons, skateboards, tricycles, etc. After they have exhausted their ideas, begin to eliminate, one-by-one, those forms of transportation that were not available at this time in history.

You should be left with a list that includes horses, stagecoaches, wagons, hot air balloons, boats, and trains. Discuss practicality of movement and speed using each, then ask students which would be the fastest one for a group of people to use in order to travel across land (train).

Explain that in America, at this point in history, train tracks only went as far west as Nebraska (locate on map).To go to California you had to go by wagon, stagecoach, or horseback. The trip was slow and hard. It was impossible to take a lot of possessions along.

Say: In order to solve the problem the United States Government sponsored a contest between two railroad companies to complete the line to the west coast. The two companies were the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific. Tell the children that one group started from the east (Nebraska) and the other group started from the west (California). They were to meet each other and join the railroad tracks across the continent. Both sides faced many hardships but finally the two lines met in Promontory, Utah. A gold spike was hammered where the two tracks met. Locate and follow the path from Omaha, Nebraska to Promontory, Utah to Sacramento, California.


Second Grade -American Civilization - Lesson 15 - Transcontinental Railroad

The work was hard and the men who worked on building the railroad had to be willing to work long hours and do many jobs. They lived in tents or sometimes in railroad cars. Some railroad cars became stores, butcher shops and cookhouses. Life was not very pleasant.

Before tracks could be put down, the land had to be cleared and leveled. That involved chopping down trees, digging up the stumps, and breaking up rocks. After the land was clear and level, wood ties (thick, heavy planks) were put on the ground. Heavy iron rails, twenty-eight feet long and three hundred and fifty pounds in weight, were put on top of the ties and attached to them with spikes. Each rail was joined to the one that went before. The men had to also build trestles, which are bridges over land. They had to blast through mountains to make tunnels and bend the rails around curves in the land. Ask the children if they can think of any other jobs the workers needed to do before the trains could run. Ask how they think the materials got to the work site. Show on the map how some materials had to be brought part of the way by river, or ocean, in the case of California.

Continue by explaining that many men were needed. Some who came to work came all the way from Europe and Asia (find Ireland and China). They heard about this new land of promise and came to be a part of it. Sometimes the men did not work so well together because some looked different and spoke different languages. Ask: Can you think of ways that it could be difficult to work with someone who did not speak the same language as you? Can you think of ways that they could solve this problem?

Tell the children that while the men often disagreed, they did agree about eating. One of the most important times of the day was meal time. The workers looked forward to a good meal because it was a pleasant time to rest a little and build some energy. A good camp cook was appreciated. The men anxiously awaited the signal to "come and eat."

After you have discussed the building of the transcontinental railroad, ask the children to recall facts. On the board draw a long length of railroad track. On the right end write Nebraska and on the left end write California. In the middle write Utah. Draw an engine at the left end and write T.R.R. on it. (see diagram) One by one, draw and join boxcars on which you write a fact suggested by the children about the construction of the railroad. Challenge the children to make the longest train possible.

If you have time during this lesson, or if necessary on a second day, tell the children that the railroad workers sang as they did their jobs, too. As the students listen to, or sing, "I've been Working on the Railroad" remind them of the rhythm of the music that would help the men keep time with their work.

Ask: Who is Dinah? (the cook) Why do they want her to blow the horn? (to call them to eat) What is she doing in the kitchen? (listening to someone play the banjo) If the children have difficulty explain that Dinah is the cook, the horn is the call to dinner and Dinah is busy with a visitor. Ask the children if they can think of other reasons why Dinah hasn't called everyone yet.