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 - Overview - November

The second grade lessons in Literature, American Civilization and Geography are all inter-related this month, so it is necessary to reference the following schedule:

Begin with the saying "Where there's a will, there's a way," focusing on Sequoyah.

("Something Told the Wild Geese" may be covered at any time)

Next, do Am. Civ. Lesson 11, Robert Fulton and the Steamboat

Next, do "Where there's a will, there's a way," focusing on the Erie Canal

("Where there's a will , there's a way" Literature may be used at any time)

Next, do Am. Civ. Lesson 12, the "Trail of Tears"

("Buffalo Dawn" may be covered any time after this lesson)

Next, do Am. Civ. Lesson 13, Oregon Trail

Next, do Am. Civ. Lesson 14, Pony Express

Next, do Am. Civ. Lesson 15, Transcontinental Railroad

Next, do Geography Lesson 6

* The Tall Tale heroes (Appleseed, Bill, Henry, Jones) may be covered at any time as well as the saying "Eaten out of house and home" which is about Paul Bunyan. Be sure to refer to the opening pages of the Tall Tale section for additional ideas.

When you have completed all the Literature, Sayings, American Civilization and Geography lessons for the month use Geography Lesson 7 as a culminating activity.


Second Grade - Literature - Sayings and Phrases - November

"Where there's a will there's a way."

"Where there's a will there's a way" has significant meaning when put within the context of the American Civilization lessons covered this month. This is the time of westward expansion and many hardships undertaken by the pioneers and Native Americans. Likewise this saying is illustrated in several pieces of modern children's literature and by past and present heroes and heroines. For those reasons, several directions are investigated.

Famous People - Sequoyah


Identify the accomplishment of Sequoyah.

Recall the hardships of Sequoyah's life.


Picture of Cherokee syllabary

Picture of sequoia trees

Story of Sequoyah

Suggested Books

Kohn, Bernice. Talking Leaves - The Story of Sequoyah. New York: Hawthorn Books, 1969.

Gleiter, Jan and Kathleen Thompson. Sequoya. Madison: Raintree Childrens Books, 1988.

Petersen, David. Sequoyah - Father of the Cherokee Alphabet. Chicago: Children's Press, 1991.


Ask the children how it would be possible to get a message to someone if there were no telephones and if the person you wanted to talk to lived far away. After the students suggest that a letter could be written ask them how they could be sure that the person who is being written to will understand the message. Ask: How would you write the message? (with words) What would the other person have to be able to do when the message arrived? (read)

Tell them that a long time ago the Cherokee people, who are Native Americans, could not read or write their language. They had no way to write down their stories or send news to one another. A man named Sequoyah decided to change that. Read a story about Sequoyah, or tell the following story.

A long time ago in the state of Tennessee there lived a Cherokee boy named Sequoyah, which means "lame one." Because of an injury to his leg which caused "green sickness," he walked with a limp. He was a very talented young man who did fine carvings, beautiful jewelry and art work. As he grew up he stayed at home with his mother and helped her.

In later years he married and had five children, four sons and a daughter. He worked very hard to make a fine home for his family.

In 1812 the United States was at war with England. Sequoyah went to fight for his country. He was away from home and he missed his family. He wished that he could let them BCP DRAFT LIT 28

Second Grade - Literature - Sayings and Phrases - November

know that he was safe and find how they were. He saw white soldiers reading what he called "talking leaves," pieces of white paper that looked like leaves that talked to the soldiers. He wished that the Cherokee could read and write, too.

After the war was over he returned home and began trying to write down the Cherokee language. At first he drew a picture for each word and then he realized that there were some

words that he could not draw. By then he had drawn stacks of pictures, all carefully put on bark. People began to make fun of him for trying to do something like that. Then during the time he was trying to find a way to fix his pictures they were burned. All his hard work was lost!

Sequoyah did not give up! With his daughter he began writing down all the sounds that were in words he knew. His daughter, Ah-yoka, helped him think of all the words they knew together, then word by word he wrote down the sounds. This took a long time!

Can you imagine! Sequoyah came up with 86 sounds that when put together in different combinations make up all Cherokee words. He was so proud, but he still needed to convince all the other Cherokee people to use the syllabary (list of sounds) that he made.

Sequoyah went to the Cherokee Tribal Council to have them look at his work. He took Ah-yoka with him. Sequoyah left her alone with the chiefs (important leaders) while he waited outside. The chiefs told Ah-yoka things to write down; then Sequoyah came back into the room and read what she had written. Everyone was excited about Sequoyah's "talking leaves," especially Sequoyah. He had spent twelve years trying to find a way to read and write Cherokee.

Everyone wanted to learn to read and write, and Sequoyah helped them to learn. He trained teachers and in a few years time the Cherokee Nation even had its own newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix.

The Cherokee people awarded Sequoyah a silver medal with his picture on it, and the President of the United States gave him a gift of $500.00 a year for the rest of his life. Sequoyah was very proud of all his hard work and the fact that he didn't give up and kept trying.

Today the tallest trees in the world, the giant redwoods, are named sequoias after the man who brought the "talking leaves" to his people. He is also honored with a postage stamp that bears his picture.

After reading or telling the story ask the children to identify Sequoyah's greatest accomplishment. Ask them to tell some of the ways we use our abilities to read and write (letter writing; reading books, magazines, directions, recipes; making signs; writing stories, books, plays, speeches, etc.).

Have the students recall some of the hardships Sequoyah faced. Ask the students which of his hardships they think was most difficult.


Second Grade - Literature - Sayings and Phrases - November

American Civilization - Erie Canal


Trace the route of the Erie Canal on a map.

Identify tasks the workers had to do to build the canal.

Listen to a work song of the time.


Pictures of the Erie Canal

Picture of a water lock

Map of the United States

Recording of "The Erie Canal," music and words included in lesson

Suggested Books

Harness, Cheryl. The Amazing Impossible Erie Canal. New York: Macmillan Books, 1995.

Nirgiotis, Nicholas. Erie Canal - Gateway to the West. New York: Franklin Watts, 1993.

Spier, Peter. The Erie Canal. New York: Doubleday, 1970.



Ask the students: Can you imagine digging a ditch 363 miles long! (Relate this to a familiar distance for the children, "That's 300 trips down to the Inner Harbor and back" etc.) Tell them that is exactly what the hardworking people who made the Erie Canal did back in 1817.

Remind the students that as the pioneers from the east decided to move to the west they had to travel across the Appalachian Mountains. This trip took a long time and was very hard. Show on a map of the United States that this mountain range runs the length of the country. Because the pioneers were traveling in covered wagons, they had a hard time traveling over this rocky ground that was covered with trees. The wagons sometimes fell over or got stuck. The pioneers were sometimes attacked by wild animals.

You may wish to share excerpts from one of the suggested books or tell the following.

People who came to America to live remembered that in Europe a lot of traveling was done by boat. Big flat-bottomed boats were pulled along by horses or mules who walked on a path alongside. This made an easy way to travel up river as well as down. It would even allow people to cross mountains. Why not try the same thing in America?

A man named DeWitt Clinton thought that was a marvelous idea. He wanted to dig a

canal, or ditch, from the Hudson River all the way across New York state to Lake Erie. It took him awhile to convince people that this was a good idea. People argued that it would cost too much money and would take too much time. Clinton insisted that it would be safer and faster when it was completed. Eventually he got other people to agree. In 1817 the canal was begun!

Because the land was so steep in some parts, it was necessary to build locks. Locks are like elevators for ships or boats. Water could be added to or taken from a level so that the boats could be moved up or down. Finally people could easily cross the Appalachian Mountains.

It took eight years for the Erie Canal to be completed. The canal was forty feet wide and BCP DRAFT LIT 30

Second Grade - Literature - Sayings and Phrases - November

four feet deep. There were eighty-three locks and, believe it or not, eighteen aqueducts, which are bridges that carry water. Hundreds of workers chopped trees and pulled out stumps so they could dig and build and make the Erie Canal. It was 1825 when DeWitt Clinton rode on a boat called the Seneca Chief all the way from Lake Erie to the Atlantic Ocean, where he poured barrels of water from the lake into the ocean to finally allow the east and west waters to meet.

There was a wonderful celebration when the canal was completed.


Did everyone think that the canal was a good idea? (no)

How do you think DeWitt Clinton convinced people that this was a good idea? (told them that it would save time and money, it would be safer)

Why did it seem that this would be an almost impossible job when they started out? (length was so great, had to cross mountains)

What were some of the jobs that the workers had to do? (cut down trees, pull up stumps, dig the ditch, build the bridges and locks)


Tell the students that in order to keep their spirits up while they were working, the men would sing. These songs, which were called work songs, kept the men working at a particular rhythm with a repetitive action. One song that became popular was "The Erie Canal."

If possible, obtain a recording of "The Erie Canal" and play it for the students. The words are included here if you wish to have the students sing along. Suggest that they think about work the men would be doing while they were singing. Ask the students to demonstrate digging, chopping, pulling, and hammering while singing or listening to this song.

Help the students to see that while these seemed to be impossible odds, the strength and commitment of the people showed through. This accomplishment is truly an example that "where there is a will there is a way."


Second Grade - Literature - Sayings and Phrases - November

The Erie Canal

1. I've got a mule, her name is Sal,

Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal

She's a good ol' worker an' a good ol' pal,

Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal

We've haul'd some barges in our day

Fill'd with lumber, coal and hay,

And we know ev'ry inch of the way

From Albany to Buffalo

Low bridge, everybody down!

Low bridge, for we're comin' to a town!

And you'll always know your neighbor,

You'll always know your pal,

If you've ever navigated on the Erie Canal.


2. We better get along on our way, ol' gal,

Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal

'Cause you bet your life I'd never part with Sal,

Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal

Git up there, mule, here comes a lock,

We'll make Rome 'bout six o clock,

One more trip an' back we'll go

Right back home to Buffalo.

Low bridge, everybody down!

Low bridge, for we're comin' to a town!

And you'll always know your neighbor,

You'll always know your pal,

If you've ever navigated on the Erie Canal.




Second Grade - Literature - Sayings and Phrases - November

"Where there's a will there's a way."


Suggested Books

Seuss, Dr. Horton Hatches the Egg, New York: Random House, 1940.

Piper, Watty. The Little Engine that Could. New York: Platt & Munk, 1954.


Horton Hatches the Egg - read by Billy Crystal (If I Ran the Circus, also) - video - 48 min. (Delta)

The Little Engine that Could - video - 30 min. (Delta)


Read either of the books listed above, or any other book you know that illustrates the saying "Where there's a will there's a way." Ask the children to tell what the story means to them. Ask them if they have ever had to work very hard to be able to learn or do something. Have them tell how they felt after they accomplished the task.

Share some of the biographies of famous people listed below. Remind the children that each of these people had to overcome some obstacle to accomplish a particular thing.

Rachel Carson

Greene, Carol. Rachel Carson: Friend of Nature. Chicago: Childrens Press, 1992.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Gleiter, Jan and Kathleen Thompson. Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Madison: Raintree, 1988.


Harriet Tubman

Adler, David A. A Picture Book of Harriet Tubman. New York: Holiday House, 1992.

Benjamin, Anne. Young Harriet Tubman: Freedom Fighter. Mahwah: Troll, 1992.

Ludwig van Beethoven

Greene, Carol. Ludwig van Beethoven: Musical Pioneer. Chicago: Childrens Press, 1989.

Johnson, Ann D. The Value of Giving: The Story of Ludwig van Beethoven. Oak Tree, 1979.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Adler, David A. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Free at Last. New York: Holiday House, 1986.

Adler, David A. A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. New York: Holiday House, 1989.

Behrens, June. Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Story of a Dream. Chicago: Childrens Press, 1979.


Second Grade - Literature - Sayings and Phrases - November

Davidson, Margaret. I Have a Dream: The Story of Martin Luther King. New York: Scholastic, 1986.

Jones, Margaret. Martin Luther King, Jr. Chicago: Childrens Press, 1986.

Livingston, Myra Cohn. Let Freedom Ring: A Ballad of Martin Luther King, Jr. New York: Holiday House, 1992.

Mattern, Joanne. Young Martin Luther King, Jr.: "I Have a Dream." Mahwah: Troll, 1992.

McKissack, Patricia and Fredrick. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Man of Peace. Hillside: Enslow, 1991.

Myers, Walter Dean. Young Martin's Promise. Madison: Raintree, 1992.

Smith, Kathie B. and Pamela Bradbury. Martin Luther King, Jr. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1989.

Woodson, Jacqueline. Martin Luther King, Jr. and His Birthday. Columbus: Silver Burdett, 1990.

Marian Anderson

Anderson, Marian. My Lord, What a Morning. New York: The Viking Press, 1956.

McKissack, Patricia and Fredrick. Marian Anderson: A Great Singer. Hillside: Enslow, 1991.

Tobias, Tobi. Marian Anderson. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1972.

Marie Curie

Birch, Beverly. Marie Curie: Pioneer in the Study of Radiation. Gareth Stevens, 1990.


Second Grade - Literature - Sayings and Phrases - November

"Eaten out of House and Home"

"Eaten out of house and home" is a humorous statement commonly used to describe the effect of the appetite of someone on a household. To describe how much someone eats one may say that they are "eaten out of house and home" implying that it might be necessary to sell the house to pay for the food bills.

The character of Paul Bunyan lends himself as someone who would certainly eat the average person out of house and home. As his gargantuan strength, amazing exploits and massive size become familiar to the students this saying will take on greater meaning.

As an activity to accompany this saying students are given the opportunity to design and make a breakfast menu. Provide a variety of sample menus if possible and help the children imagine just how much Paul might eat.

Suggested Books - Read aloud

Cohn, Amy L, ed. From Sea to Shining Sea. "Paul Bunyan, the Mightiest Logger of Them All" retold by Mary Pope Osborne. New York: Scholastic, 1993.

Emberley, Barbara. The Story of Paul Bunyan. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall Inc., 1963.

Good read aloud with a great description of a light lunch for Paul.

Gleiter, Jan and Kathleen Thompson. Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. Milwaukee: Raintree Childrens Books, 1985.

Good read aloud with very simple pictures to show a group.

Kellogg, Steven. Paul Bunyan. New York: William Morrow & Co., 1984.

Very colorful illustrations, but may have too much detail to use with large group. Read aloud text is good but stretches even a tall tale with some of the exploits.

Osborne, Mary Pope. American Tall Tales. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991.

Good collection with wonderful wood engravings for illustrations.

San Souci, Robert D. Larger Than Life - The Adventures of American Legendary Heroes. New York: Doubleday, 1991.

Great collection of several folk heroes.

Suggested Books - Reference

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

Good reference, not appropriate for read aloud.


Design and make a breakfast menu for Paul Bunyan


Paper, crayons, markers

Menus for samples

Menu ditto, optional use


Second Grade - Literature - Sayings and Phrases - November

"Eaten out of House and Home"


Read one of the suggested stories to the children or share some of Paul Bunyan's exploits. Be sure that students are familiar with tall tales and know that what they are hearing is greatly exaggerated.

If you are unable to acquire one of the suggested books be sure to share the following


Paul Bunyan is known as the largest and strongest lumberjack who ever lived. When he was born his father had to make a giant cradle for him that was shaped like a boat so that he could be rocked by the waves. His mother made him a blanket the size of a football field. Together his parents stood on the Maine shore and watched Paul rock in his cradle.

Because of Paul's size he caused disaster after disaster. His parents had to keep reminding him not to lean on any mountains and to certainly watch wherever he stepped. It was decided that he should move out west where there was more space. Paul moved to Minnesota and it was during one of the great snowy winters there that he found his companion, Babe. Babe was a big blue ox who was strong enough to pull a crooked road straight.

Paul liked chopping with an ax so being a lumberjack in a logging camp seemed to be the perfect job for him. He soon had a group of men who worked for him and they became so famous that many men came to work for Paul.

Feeding a big group of people can be hard, but it was especially hard because Paul and Babe were in that group. Paul hired several cooks and together with their helpers they managed to keep everyone fed. Paul loved pancakes and to make enough pancakes for him a giant griddle had to be made. This griddle was so large that the cooks' helpers strapped bacon to their feet and skated around the griddle to keep it greased. The pancakes were enormous and Paul ate a huge stack every day. He could eat five or six dozen eggs at a time and at least ten sacks of potatoes. Babe drank so much water that he was always making lakes go dry.

Paul and Babe had so many adventures. Once Babe was carrying water from the Great Lakes and accidentally spilled it. That accident caused the Mississippi River! Paul was so strong and his ax was so big that one day when he was returning from logging he dragged his ax on the ground and formed the Grand Canyon.

People liked to make up stories about Paul. Each of the stories was more fantastic than the one before. However, one thing seemed to be for sure, he definitely had the kind of appetite that when he was fed could leave you "eaten out of house and home."


Tell the students that now that they know a little about Paul, they are to pretend that they have been hired to work at his camp. Their job is to design and make a menu of the things Paul

would enjoy having for breakfast. (You could certainly modify this for any meal if you wish.) Brainstorm with them the kinds of foods that Paul would enjoy being served. Remind the students that he had a fantastic appetite and that their list should be fantastic, too.

Suggest that the students describe the items to match Paul's gargantuan appetite like a six foot tall stack of table-top size pancakes, a barrel of syrup, five humongous hams, six dozen eggs, a swimming pool full of cereal, a truckload of oranges, etc.

Display the sample menu, or menus, so that the students can see the variety of ways they can be done. Allow the students to make their own or use the ditto provided. Be sure to have the students color and illustrate the menus. Put them on display with other tall tale items.


Second Grade - Poetry - Lesson 5 - Something Told the Wild Geese


Define migrate and hibernate.

Identify signs of winter.

Write a composition, or draw a picture of "Signs of Winter."


Pictures of geese

Pictures of animals that hibernate


Suggested Books

Aronsky, Jim. Every Autumn Comes the Bear. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1993.

Great illustrations, bear looks in on other animals as it prepares for hibernation.

Carlstrom, Nancy White. Goodbye Geese. New York: Philomel, 1991.

Ed Young's marvelous illustrations make this book perfect for this poem.

Peters, Lisa Westberg. This Way Home. New York: Henry Holt, 1996.

Beautiful story of Savannah sparrows and their migratory navigation.

Urquhart, Jennifer C. Animals That Travel. New York: National Geographic Society, 1982.

Good photographs, simple text.


Brimner, Larry Dane. Animals That Hibernate. New York: Franklin Watts, 1991.

Good photographs.

Riha, Susanne. Animals in Winter. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books, Inc., 1989.

Good illustrations, tell about the animals of Europe.


Something Told the Wild Geese is a beautiful poem that welcomes expressive oral reading. While the rhyming pattern (AABBCCDD) could certainly be studied with emphasis on the couplet form, this poem also lends itself to scientific exploration and the terms instinct and migrate. This lesson takes that scientific direction and includes the term hibernate as well.


Ask the students if they can name any animals that get ready for winter. If they have

difficulty suggest that squirrels gather food, as do many insects; that bears get ready to settle in for a winter's nap; that some animals dig deeper burrows underground; and that some birds fly to warmer climates. Ask: Do you think that those animals use calendars to know that winter is coming? (no) Does anyone know what tells those animals to get ready for the winter? (instinct)

Say: Instinct is a message that comes from inside. It tells wild animals many things. It tells them to listen carefully to strange sounds because the sounds can mean an enemy is near. Instinct tells them which foods are safe to eat and which are not. It tells some animals to get

ready and move to a warmer climate which is called to migrate or migration, it tells other


Second Grade - Poetry - Lesson 5 - Something Told the Wild Geese

animals to settle in for a long winter's sleep which is called to hibernate or hibernation.

Tell the students to listen to the poem Something Told the Wild Geese and see if they can tell what instinct tells geese to do. Read the poem.

Something Told the Wild Geese

Something told the wild geese

It was time to go.

Though the fields lay golden

Something whispered, "Snow."

Leaves were green and stirring

Berries, luster-glossed,

But beneath warm feathers

Something cautioned, "Frost."

All the sagging orchards

Steamed with amber spice.

But each wild breast stiffened

At remembered ice.

Something told the wild geese,

It was time to fly -

Summer sun was on their wings,

Winter in their cry.

Rachel Field

After reading the poem ask the students to tell what instinct tells geese to do. Ask them if they have ever seen a flock of geese heading south. Show the students the V formation that geese use when flying. Explain that instinct tells the geese when to fly and where to fly. Remind them that just as the poem tells us, the geese are getting ready for winter by flying to warmer places while it is still fall. Be sure that the children understand all the vocabulary used in the poem.

Share one, or several, of the suggested books with the class. (Goodbye Geese is a perfect companion for this poem, but do share others as well.) Discuss the ways that animals get ready for, and survive, winter. Brainstorm with the children, and on the board write a column of things that animals do to get ready for winter. For example: grow a heavier coat of fur, eat more to store fat, dig a deeper burrow and seal it shut, store a food supply, fly to warmer places. In a column next to it write human responses to winter such as: wear heavier clothing, eat heartier meals like soups and stews, winterize our houses and stay indoors, keep groceries on hand in case of snow or a storm, take a vacation in a warmer place.

As a closing activity have the children brainstorm all the signs of winter, for example: animals gathering and storing food, colder temperatures, snow flurries, gets dark earlier, geese flying south, people using their fireplaces, etc.

Have the students write a composition on "The Signs of Winter" or let them do a

picture on the same topic.


Second Grade -Literature - Lesson 6 - Poetry

Buffalo Dusk


Identify the tone of the poem.

Categorize the uses of the buffalo by the Plains Indians.



Pictures of buffalo

Pictures of Native Americans who lived on the plains, explorers, tepees

Text of the poem Buffalo Dusk, given

Suggested Books

Baker, Olaf. Where the Buffaloes Begin. New York: Frederick Warne & Co., 1981.

Impressive black and white drawings by Stephen Gammell provide the illustrations.

Cohlene, Terri. Quillworker - A Cheyenne Legend. Vero Beach: The Rourke Corporation, 1990.

This story explains the origins of stars, but the illustrations include buffalo, as do the photographs included at the end of the book.

Goble, Paul. The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses. New York: Scholastic, 1978.

Beautiful read aloud, contains illustrations of herds of buffalo but really tells the story of one Native American girl.


Integrated Theme Units. New York: Scholastic, 1992.

Shedd, Warner. The Kids' Wildlife Book. Charlotte: Williamson Publishing Co., 1994.

Good information on bison.

Strohl, Mary and Susan Scheneck. Native Americans - Cooperative Learning Activities. New York, 1991.

Great information on six Native American children from different tribes.


Thomas, David H. And Lorann Pendleton, ed. Native Americans. Sydney: Weldon Owen Pty Limited, 1995.

Large colorful book with many photographs and illustrations.



In order for students to appreciate the tone of the poem Buffalo Dusk it is necessary for them to have some appreciation for the plight of the Native American at the time of the near extermination of the buffalo. This lesson should be covered during the study of Native Americans, the removal to reservations and the sudden westward expansion.

It should be noted that although buffalo were once near extinction, this is no longer true


Second Grade - Literature - Lesson 6 - Poetry

today. Bison, which is the real name for buffalo, are raised all over the United States and Canada. If you wish to learn more about buffalo, the following groups will send information and charts

showing how buffalo were used:

American Bison Association, P.O. Box 16660, Denver, Colorado, 80216

National Buffalo Association, Box 580, Fort Pierre, South Dakota, 57532


Display pictures of buffalo and tell the students that Native Americans considered buffalo, which some tribes called ta-tan-ka, to be gifts from God. They believed that after hunting and killing the buffalo, every part of this sacred animal should be used. It became not only their food but their clothing, tools, blankets, and medicine.

Show pictures of Native Americans and explain that the Plains Indians, who were nomads, followed the herds of buffalo because they depended on them for food. Their homes (tepees) were easily moved and the people expected that each place they stayed would be based on the movement of the herd. Because the plains are rolling hills of grass, the Plains Indians could watch the buffalo's movements easily.

Tell the children that when the white settlers came to America they did not respect the buffalo the way the Native Americans did. They killed the animals and sold their hides for money and left their bodies to go to waste. Because the settlers killed so many of the buffalo so quickly, the Plains Indians soon had no food to eat and no fur to make clothes. Many of the Plains Indians died.

Read the poem to the children and ask how the poem makes them feel. Ask: Is this a happy poem? (no) How was it read, with a fast pace or slow pace? (slow) Tell them that the feeling in a poem is called the tone of the poem, and while the students are already familiar with silly poems and happy poems, this is truly a sad and serious one. Ask: How would you describe the tone of this poem? (sad, unhappy, a little angry)

Tell them that when we read Carl Sandburg's poem we hear sadness in his voice. He repeats the first and last lines in much the same way that someone would say, "I can't believe it" over and over again. He is sorry that the huge herds of buffalo are gone and he is sad that the Native Americans who once followed them are gone also. Mr. Sandburg realizes that the people who came to America from Europe and took the land, almost completely killed the buffalo and the Native Americans who lived here.

Buffalo Dusk

The buffaloes are gone.

And those who saw the buffaloes are gone.

Those who saw the buffaloes by thousands and how they

pawed the prairie sod into dust with their great hoofs,

their great heads down pawing on in a great pageant

of dusk,

Those who saw the buffaloes are gone.

And the buffaloes are gone.

Carl Sandburg


Second Grade -Literature - Lesson 6 - Poetry

Tell the students that the word pageant means a procession or march that usually involves important or royal people. This is another way that Carl Sandburg lets us know how serious this event is.

As an activity to accompany this poem help the students to recognize the variety of uses

the Plains Indians found for the buffalo. Help them to see that as white hunters came and killed the buffalo to sell their skins they took away the life of the Plains Indians, too.

Using pictures in the suggested books or others you may have, explore the life of the Plains Indians. Have the students look closely at the clothing, housing, and hunting and household implements. Talk about their various uses and the materials from which they are made.

Have the students brainstorm the many ways the Native Americans used the buffalo. List on the board, or on chart paper, all the items that come from the buffalo. You may want to make categories of either the uses or the animal parts that provide the items. The chart below should provide ideas.

Tools / Weapons

arrowhead from bones

knife from bone and horn

hoe from bones

scraper from bones

bowstring from sinew

Food / Cooking Utensils



bowl from bones

ladle from bone

spoon from bone


dung was used for fuel for fires

Clothing / Housing

tepee covering from hide

blanket from hide

dress from hide

leggings from hide

bag from hide

thread from hair

cord/string from sinew and hair

flyswatter from tail

needle from bone

belt from hide


head was used for headdress

horn was ground for medicine

teeth used for necklaces, rattles



Second Grade - Literature - Tall Tales and Myths

Tall tales

Tall tales are stories that involve a lot of exaggeration. Because they are "stretched" so much they become quite humorous, although they are told straight faced as though one were telling the truth. Most tall tales involve the explanation of how some real thing came to be.They were frequently used to explain some unbelievable nature or weather phenomenon.


Myths are stories that also explain why things happen or have happened in the world.

Two of the characters who are part of our American myths are Johnny Appleseed and Casey Jones.


Choose any of the activities below to enhance your study of folk heroes and tall tales.

Have you heard the one about?

Remind the students that tall tales contained much exaggeration, but the tales were told without laughing. The idea was to make up a tale more fantastic than another person could. Tell the students that they are going to try their hand at telling fantastic tales. Work together as a class to complete the following lines.

Paul Bunyan's griddle was so big that ________________________________________

Babe, the blue ox, was so strong that _________________________________________

John Henry's hammer was so heavy that when he swung it ____________________________

Widow Maker was so mean that when he kicked ___________________________________

Pecos Bill was so ornery that___________________________________________________

Paul Bunyan was so tall that his shadow_________________________________________

Casey Jones drove his train so fast that____________________________________________

Johnny Appleseed planted so many trees that_______________________________________

Animals liked Johnny Appleseed so much that ______________________________________

Have the children select one of the exaggerations and illustrate it.


Second Grade - Literature - Tall Tales and Myths

I Need a Job

Tell the students:

Pretend that you are one of the tall tale heroes who is looking for a job. Be ready to tell about yourself and the things that you can do. Be sure to tell about some of the things you have done in your life so that someone will want to hire you.

You may want to do this aloud with the whole group or allow the students to work in pairs/groups and then present to the class. Be sure to model a good presentation.

You Remind Me of Me

Have the students compare and contrast two tall tale heroes. Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill work very well. Use a Venn diagram to map the information then have the students make simple statements like:

Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill were both very tall.

Paul was a lumberjack, but Bill was a cowboy.

Paul and Bill both had animals as their companions.

Paul had an ox and Bill had a horse, a snake and a mountain lion.

Both Paul and Bill were in charge of a group of men.

You'd like my Friend!

Tell the students that they are to choose one of the tall tale heroes to be their friend. Have them think about why they have chosen that particular person. What would they want to do together? What would be the advantages and disadvantages of having that person for a friend?

You may wish to have the students tell the class their responses, write their responses, or draw their responses.

This BIG Country

Display a map of North America. Assign a color or symbol to each folk hero and map the travels and adventures of each. Encourage the students to read the map and and match the travels with the correct folk hero.

Tall Tales A B C

Challenge the students to come up with a word (or words) for each letter of the alphabet as it pertains to a particular folk hero. The table on the next page may be helpful. You may wish to let different children illustrate a term in order to develop an ABC book. Since creativity is definitely necessary for some letters, consider starting a sentence with the letter. For example, An engineer named Casey Jones drove the engine, or Every day Pecos Bill worked on the ranch.

Appleseed Bunyan Henry Bill Jones
apples, animals ax African Am. ambush
books, barefoot Babe, beard Big Bend brand brake
Chapman cradle coyote, cowboy Cannonball, coal
Delicious drag the ax driver drives
enormous engineer
flapjacks, forest freight, fireman
Granny Smith griddle giant giant
hammer herd, horses hero
Illinois J. Inkslinger
John, Jonathan John
lumberjack Lucy, Lil' Bill lasso, Lightning locomotive
Massachusetts Maine machine mountain lion Memphis, Miss.
nine hours
orchard, Ohio ox one hundred $ outlaws
Pennsylvania Paul, pancake Polly Ann Pecos, panther passengers
read rivers rope, ranch railroad
seeds, seedlings sawmill steamdrill Sue, snake schedule, steam
trees tall tale, timber tunnel, team tornado train, Tenn.
Winesap whopper W. Virginia Widow Maker water
Yellow apples yarn Yankee yippee yelled


Second Grade - Literature - Tall Tales

Videos and Filmstrips

Johnny Appleseed - starring Rob Reiner, Molly Ringwald and Martin Short

Shelley Duvall's Tall Tales and Legends - video - 52 min.

Paul Bunyan - read by Jonathan Winters - Rabbit Ears - video - 30 min.

Pecos Bill - narrated by Robin Williams - Rabbit Ears - video - 30 min.

Pecos Bill - King of the Cowboys - starring Rebecca DeMornay & Martin Mull

Shelley Duvall's Tall Tales and Legends - video - 50 min.


Second Grade - Literature - Johnny Appleseed


Identify the effects of Chapman's extensive tree planting on the pioneers' lives.

Identify fact and fiction in stories of Chapman's life.


Apples, pictures of apple trees

Map of United States

Apples in a variety of forms, if desired


Suggested Books

Aliki. The Story of Johnny Appleseed. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, Inc.,1963.

Glass, Andrew. Folks Call Me Appleseed John. New York: Delacorte Press, 1995.

Kellogg, Steven. Johnny Appleseed. New York: Morrow, 1988.

Kellogg, Steven. Johnny Appleseed: A Tall Tale Retold. New York: Scholastic, 1988.

Osborne, Mary Pope. American Tall Tales. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991.


John Chapman was born on September 26, 1774 in Leominster, Massachusetts. His father served in Washington's army and fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill during the Revolutionary War.

John's mother died in 1776 and he and his sister Elizabeth were cared for by relatives until their father returned from the war. John was about six years old when his father, Elizabeth and he moved to Longmeadow, Massachusetts where his father remarried. Over the years ten more children were added to the Chapman family.

John learned to read and write in school, but most of his education was self-taught. He no doubt learned much about life when he set out at a young age through the mountains of northern Pennsylvania.

He traveled and learned the area up and down the Allegheny River. Here he cleared ground and planted his first orchard.

John learned the languages of the Senecas and Munses and befriended them. Years later he would champion the rights of Native Americans and blame the settlers for cheating and wronging them. He traveled freely through the wilderness of Pennsylvania, demonstrating a love for animals as well as his fellow man.

Chapman moved into central Ohio in 1801, traveling ahead of the settlers. He began planting trees so he could sell them to the settlers by the time they arrived.

John Chapman dispensed not only apple seedlings but books and advice as well. It is said

that he tore his books into sections and shared them with the settlers, returning months later to

redistribute and discuss them. He is also said to have had great affection for children and to have

enjoyed telling stories to them. People began to call him Johnny Appleseed.

He planted trees throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, West Virginia, and Indiana. He is described as a participant in the construction of homes for settlers and helping them become established.

Chapman died in March 1845 at the age of seventy-one. Years later the people of Ashland, Ohio put up a monument to him inscribed with the words below.

Johnny Appleseed

Patron saint of American orchards

soldier of peace

he went about doing good.


There are many exaggerations of John Chapman's life as the character Johnny Appleseed. His ability to clear the land for orchards was greater than the efforts of ten men. He is said to have been able to converse with the animals and to share his home with them. Because he often walked barefoot, his feet were supposedly tough enough to withstand a snakebite without penetration. The affection people felt for the deeds of this man raised him to the status of a legend.

John Chapman fits this section as a folk hero rather than a tall tale hero the likes of Paul Bunyan or Pecos Bill. His life is documented and his contributions are real. Except for the magnitude of his exploits and his uncanny relationship with wild animals, Johnny Appleseed is a believable folk hero.


Select and read one of the Johnny Appleseed books to the class. If possible trace the route he followed on the United States map. If the version you read does not reference his travels, be sure to have the students locate Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, the Allegheny River, Ohio, West Virginia, Illinois, and Indiana. Remind the students that much of this land was area that was just being settled at the time John Chapman lived.

Be sure that your students realize that the person John Chapman really did live. He did set out to plant apple trees and provide the westward moving pioneers with fruit. Legends sprang up about him because his life was much like that of a hermit. Because people didn't know a lot about him they invented stories. All of these made-up stories have a tone of affection and admiration.

Ask: How did the apple trees that John Chapman planted help the pioneers? (provided food, seeds would grow into more apple trees) What uses would they find for the fruit? (used raw, used in cooking, baking, jellies, preserves) In what ways are apples more useful than some other fruits? (can be dried, baked, made into sauce, can be used in some form throughout the year) If you decided to bring in apples in their various forms to share, this would be an appropriate time.

Remind the students that John Chapman shared his books as well as the apple seedlings. Ask: What did that mean to the pioneers? (a chance to read books when they had to leave most of their own behind; a chance to talk to someone who was educated, who could read)

Make two columns on the board. Title one fact and the other fiction. Have the students recall facts they have learned about John Chapman and list them in the appropriate column. Then do the same with statements of fiction. Do take the time to discuss these however, since they may be based in fact. For instance, it is unlikely that a wolf was John's companion, but since he lived outdoors he may have felt much more at ease when encountering wild animals.

If you have already discussed other tall tale heroes compare Johnny Appleseed with them. If you have not yet covered the other heroes tell the students that they will have a chance to meet other folk heroes soon.


Second Grade -Literature - Pecos Bill


List the tasks of a cowboy.

Identify exaggeration in the story of Pecos Bill's life.

Sing a cowboy song.


Pictures of cowboys at work

Classroom size map of the United States

Recording of "Git Along, Little Dogies," words included

Suggested Books

Kellogg, Steven. Pecos Bill. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1986.

Osborne, Mary Pope. American Tall Tales. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991.

Good collection, beautiful wood engravings for illustrations.

San Souci, Robert D. Larger Than Life - The Adventures of American Legendary Heroes. New York: Doubleday, 1991.

Great collection of several folk heroes.

Small, Terry. The Legend of Pecos Bill. New York: A Bantam Little Rooster Book, 1992.


Pecos Bill's unusual start as a tall tale hero was probably the worry of most pioneer parents crossing the frontier. To lose a child, certainly not in the humorous way that Bill was lost, but by wandering off or being kidnapped or killed must have been a concern that was voiced. It became a part of the Pecos Bill tale that ended with happy results.



Have the students brainstorm all the things that they know about cowboys. Web all their suggestions on the board using a cowboy for the central figure and lassoes around him to hold categories like clothing, jobs, animals they saw while working, tools they used, etc. Be sure to correct any false ideas the students may have, such as thinking the job of cowboys was to fight Indians, and share cowboy information they may not know.

Tell the students that the next tall tale hero is sometimes known as the "King of the Cowboys." He is responsible for making the first lasso, doing the first cattle roping and holding the first rodeo. His name is associated with a river that runs through New Mexico into Texas.

Tell the students to keep in mind all the things about cowboys listed on the board while they listen to a story about Pecos Bill. Have them keep track of the number of things mentioned or illustrated in the story. Read a story about Pecos Bill or tell the following.

Pecos Bill got his start as a tall tale hero when he fell out of the back of his family's wagon as they traveled across the state of Texas. He was only a small boy, a baby some say, and BCP DRAFT LIT 47

Second Grade -Literature - Pecos Bill

he was found by a mother coyote and raised as one of her own.

Years later a man found Bill out on the prairie, naked as could be, scratching his fleas and running and howling. Bill was sure that he was a coyote. The stranger convinced Bill that he was human and taught Bill how to wear clothes and walk on two legs. (He was used to running on all fours, you know.)

The stranger, whose name was Chuck or Dan or whatever name you like, told Bill about a gang of outlaws he knew. Bill decided that he would join this gang and try out life in Texas. As Bill and his new friend walked along what do you think they saw! A huge rattlesnake! That rattlesnake had tried to sneak up on Bill; an ambush is what it tried!

Bill grabbed the snake and squeezed the venom--that's snake poison--right out of it. That old snake was just as flat and long and skinny as could be. Bill threw it over his shoulder like a length of rope and then what do you think came along but a mountain lion. Bill wrestled that lion, then lassoed the lion with the snake and climbed right onto his back to ride. Chuck was amazed!

By the time Chuck and Bill got to that outlaw gang Chuck knew, Bill was a powerful man. The boss of the outlaws knew it too and he made Bill the boss instead.

Bill spent the next years of his life teaching the men how to be cowboys. He taught them how to rope and ride and wrestle steers. He showed them how to mark, or brand the cattle. Who was the best at everything? It was Bill, of course. When it came to riding he wasn't just the best rider, but he rode the best horse. He rode Lightning, or Widow Maker as some folks called him, the fastest, roughest, wildest horse there was. Of course before Bill got to ride him he had to chase him across three states and then rope and wrestle him just like that old mountain lion.

People say that Bill and his gang rounded up every steer there was in Texas and kept them all on one giant ranch. According to stories it took a whole year to ride from one end of the ranch to the other. Of course Bill found ways to fix that, too.

Bill had many other adventures like riding a cyclone, and even found a girlfriend named Slewfoot Sue. That's another story, however, and you might just be able to imagine how it all turned out.


Ask the children to tell some of the cowboy items they heard or saw in the story. Can they think of any people who still use horses today? (police officers, produce sellers, buggy drivers, people who still run ranches, rodeo performers) Have any of the children seen a rodeo performer, either in person or on television?

Ask: Why do you think Pecos Bill is a tall tale hero? What things in the story seem to be exaggerated or stretched? Be sure to lead the children if they seem to have difficulty with this activity.



Tell the children that cowboys spent a lot of time on the trail by themselves, and to keep themselves company while they rode along they sometimes sang. In the evenings they sang around the campfire, too, and some of the cowboys played harmonicas or guitars to accompany them.

The words to one song that cowboys sang are included here. If possible play a recording of the song as well. Tell the children that the song has a nice, easy rhythm like the movement you would feel sitting on a saddle, riding on a horse. Explain any words that are unfamiliar to the students, making sure that they know that the dogies are the cattle. You may also want to sing "Home on the Range" that is covered in music lesson 5. Remind the students of the rhythm as they sing along.

Git Along, Little Dogies


1. As I was out walking one morning for pleasure, I spied a cow-

puncher a riding a long; His hat was throwed back and his

spurs was a jingling; As he approached he was singing this song:


Whoopee ti yi yo, git along little dogies.

It's your misfortune and none of my own; Whoopee ti yi yo,

git along little dogies, you know that Wyoming will be your new home.

2. Your mother was raised way down in Texas,

Where the jimson weed and the sandburs grow.

We'll fill you up on prickly pear and cholla,

Then throw you on the trail to Idaho.


3. Early in the spring we round up the dogies,

We mark 'em and brand'em and bob off their tails,

Round up the horses, load up the chuck wagon,

Then throw the dogies out on the long trail.



Second Grade -Literature - John Henry


Identify qualities of John Henry.

Listen to a song about John Henry.


Version of John Henry story

Picture of a steel driving hammer (flat head on both ends)

Recording of the song "John Henry," words for one version listed below

Suggested Books

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

Great collection of stories and songs.

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

Wonderful collection with beautiful illustrations.

Keats, Ezra Jack. John Henry - An American Legend. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1965.

Great artwork, chronicles adventures from birth to death.


Lester, Julius. John Henry. New York: Dial Books, 1994.

This book is beautiful! The illustrations are gorgeous and the similes make a colorful, poetic text.

Osborne, Mary Pope. American Tall Tales. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991.

Good collection, with beautiful wood engravings for illustrations.

San Souci, Robert D. Larger Than Life - The Adventures of American Legendary Heroes. New York: Doubleday, 1991.

Great collection of several folk heroes.

Small, Terry. The Legend of John Henry. New York: Doubleday, 1994.

Told as a poem this book may be difficult for young children to understand.


It is important to help students realize the pride people took in their work during this time in the history of our country. It was admirable to labor with one's hands, and strength and fortitude were considered worthy of praise. It took a special man to rise above the rest.

His character created from a combination of real men who lived at this time, John Henry became a standard for the working man. Because he was an African American recognized during a time of slavery in our country, John Henry's rise to the stature of folk hero is even more noteworthy. His belief in his own abilities, even standing up to a machine, made him a hero to the common man. Add to his strength the picture of a family man who fiercely loved his wife and son and you have some idea of the kind of person who would be held in esteem.



Second Grade -Literature - John Henry


Select a version of the story John Henry to read to the class or tell the following. (If possible, read several versions or at least the excerpts from them that present different points in

John Henry's life. Some of the versions include John Henry's wife and son, some do not.)


Lightning flashed and thunder roared when John Henry was born, as the stories say, with a hammer in his hand. He jumped out of his mother's arms and started growing as soon as she held him up for folks to see. He grew so quickly that his head went clear through the porch roof before he had a chance to move.

He helped his mama and papa for a while but he really loved to swing his hammer best of all. When he heard that there was work with the railroad hammering steel spikes into rock so that blasting could be done he went to see about the job. Tunnels needed to be cut through mountains so the railroad tracks could go through. The railroad needed John Henry.

Now John Henry was a big man with muscles that were enormous when he flexed them, but he was a humble man who believed that folks should respect you for what you do, not for who you are or how you look. He told the boss man that he would be a hard worker and he was.

John had a partner named Lil' Bill. Bill held the spike that John Henry hit with his hammer. Bill was called a shaker and John was the driver. Bill trusted John to hit the hammer because John was a good worker who was honest and careful and thought his job was important.

Once when John Henry and Bill and the other men were breaking their way through a tunnel, the walls caved in. That was bad enough, but there was also dynamite lit. John Henry pulled his hammer and his arm free and he hit the fuse and put it right out. Everyone was saved because John Henry was so strong and so smart.

John Henry and Bill could work harder and faster than anyone else, but one day a man brought a machine to the Big Bend Tunnel where they were working. He said that machine was a steam drill and that it could beat any man. John Henry asked for a contest; he said he could beat the drill. So, a contest was set up with a prize of one hundred dollars. John Henry picked up two hammers and the man turned the steam drill on.

For nine hours the contest went on until finally someone called time. John Henry had beaten the steam drill. He had driven more holes and they were deeper. Everyone cheered but a terrible thing happened. John Henry fell down on the ground. His heart was beating so hard that his whole chest moved up and down. John Henry was dying, but do you know what? John Henry said it didn't matter how he died, it just mattered how he lived.

People say that when you go through the Big Bend Tunnel you can hear John Henry's hammers ringing and you can still hear his heart beating.

Ask the students to imagine that they were living at the time of John Henry. Help them to picture a life when most hard work was done by hand for very little money. Tell them that the people who were laborers, that is, those who worked with their hands, were not looked upon as being smart or important. There were so many people who did the same kind of job that the people weren't treated as more than machines themselves.

Remind them that John Henry's job was to drill holes in rock so that blasting powder could be poured in and exploded. It was necessary to drive the steel spike very deep so that the

powder could be poured deep into the rock. John Henry worked with a partner who held the steel BCP DRAFT LIT 51

Second Grade -Literature - John Henry

spike that John hit with his hammer. His partner, Little Bill, was called a shaker.

Tell the students to imagine that they are going to go to see this contest between a man and a machine. They are to imagine how exciting this is. Ask: How do you think the people in the crowd watching feel? (curious, worried, sure that John Henry will lose, or win) How do you think John Henry feels? (worried, proud of his work, confident) How does the owner of the

steam drill feel? (confident, proud, wants to show-off)

Ask the children how they think the men who worked with John Henry felt while they watched. How do they think everyone felt when John Henry died? What do you think they said about John Henry when he was gone? Ask: What would you have said?

Ask the children to think about John Henry's life and the way he did things and to tell what qualities or traits they think he has. Ask: Was John Henry hard working or lazy? Was he dependable or did he leave his work unfinished? Was John Henry brave? Did John Henry think it was important to lead a good life? How do you know? List the qualities on the board.

Tell the children that many songs were written about John Henry. They may have heard another version of the song, but all the versions tell a story of his life. Play a recording of the song or sing (or read) the song below. You may wish to have the children clap along as you sing or read.

John Henry


When John Henry was a little baby boy,

You could hold him in the palm of your hand,

He gave a long and lonesome cry,

"Gonna be a steel drivin' man, Lawd, Lawd,

Gonna be a steel drivin' man."

Well, the captain said to John Henry,

"Gonna bring that steam drill 'round,

Gonna take that steam drill out on the job,

Gonna whop that steel on down, Lawd, Lawd,

Gonna whop that steel on down."

John Henry said to the captain,

"Well, a man ain't nothin' but a man,

And before I let a steam drill beat me down,

Gonna die with the hammer in my hand, Lawd, Lawd,

Gonna die with the hammer in my hand."

They took John Henry to the tunnel,

Put him in the lead to drive,

The rock so tall, John Henry so small,

That he laid down his hammer and he cried, Lawd, Lawd,

Laid down his hammer and he cried.


Second Grade -Literature - John Henry

John Henry said to his shaker,

"Now, Shaker, why don't you sing?

I'm throwin' nine pounds from my hips on down,

Just listen to the cold steel ring, Lawd, Lawd,

Just listen to the cold steel ring."

Well, the man that invented the steam drill,

He thought he was mighty fine,

But John Henry drove his fifteen feet,

And the steam drill only made nine, Lawd, Lawd,

The steam drill only made nine.

John Henry looked up at the mountain,

And his hammer was striking fire,

He hammered so hard that he broke his heart

And he laid down his hammer and he died, Lawd, Lawd,

He laid down his hammer and he died.

They took John Henry to the tunnel,

And they buried him in the sand,

And ev'ry locomotive comes a-roarin' by

Says, "There lies a steel-drivin' man, Lawd, Lawd,

There lies a steel-drivin' man."


Second Grade -Literature - Casey Jones


Identify the qualities of Casey Jones.

Design a monument for Casey Jones.



Pictures or photographs of steam engines

Pictures or photographs of memorials

Gray construction paper, black crayons

Version of the Casey Jones story

Suggested Books

Gleiter, Jan and Kathleen Thompson. Casey Jones. Milwaukee: Raintree Children's Books, 1987.

Cohn, Amy L. From Sea to Shining Sea. "Casey Jones, Railroad Man" Amy L. Cohn and Suzy Schmidt. New York: Scholastic, 1993.



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


Casey Jones is included in the unit American Myths and Tall Tales, but he does not hold the legendary status that the other folk heroes do. Jones is known for always getting his train to its destination on time and ultimately for giving his life to save others.

Jones was not a man of gigantic proportions, nor did he perform unbelievable tasks (other than keeping a great schedule). The speed with which he drove his steam engine "Cannonball" is his claim to fame.



Tell the students that folk heroes sprang up from stories of everyday people in everyday jobs. Ask them to recall the occupations of other folk heroes they know (lumberjack, cowboy, farmer). Remind them that these were jobs that required a lot of hard physical work. The people who made up the folk tales imagined that there was someone who could do the job more easily and who would bring honor and attention to the work. Storytellers also enjoyed adding humor to a usually boring life.

Tell the students that there were also folk heroes who came along who were steel mill workers (Joe Magarac), mountain men (Mike Fink), settlers (Davy Crockett) and sea captains (Stormalong). Remind the students that storytelling was very important a long time ago when television and movies hadn't been invented yet.

Say: Railroads became a very important part of America. The building of the train tracks and the joining together of the whole country by rail was a big accomplishment. Men worked

hard and long to build the tracks for the "iron horse" which is what they called the trains and their engines. Men sang work songs as they cleared the land and swung their hammers to join the

tracks. Casey Jones became the hero for the railroad men.


Second Grade -Literature - Casey Jones

Read a story about Casey Jones or tell the students the following.

Casey Jones was an engineer. He drove the train. He became well known because he always got his train to its location on time. This was not an easy task. Sometimes animals would get on the train tracks and the train would have to stop so the men on the train could shoo them off. Sometimes there was a storm or a rock slide and the tracks would get damaged. Sometimes a heavy rain storm would wash everything away.

Casey Jones drove a steam engine. That meant that the train was run by steam that came from water being heated up by burning coal. Casey's train had to carry water and coal. Up front in the engine another man named a fireman worked next to the engineer. The fireman's job was to shovel coal into the furnace to keep the engine running.

One day Casey agreed to fill in for another engineer who was sick. Now Casey had already driven one train that evening and even though he was tired he agreed to fill in. It was a passenger train that Casey agreed to drive and the train was leaving Memphis, Tennessee.

Casey drove the train across Tennessee and he headed it into Mississippi when it was almost morning. They had been driving through the night. In the early light of morning Casey saw a terrible sight. There was a freight train up ahead stopped on Casey's track. Casey blew the whistle and put on the brake. He couldn't stop right away, there was going to be a crash!

Using all his strength, Casey continued to pull on the brake and try to stop the train. He told his fireman to jump to save himself and finally he did. Casey kept pulling the brake all the way until the trains collided. Casey was killed, crushed in all the heat and metal of the engine, but he saved the passengers on his train. Casey became a hero immediately. For years later people would sing about Casey Jones.

Ask the students why people call Casey Jones a hero. Ask: Do you think that Casey Jones got up that last morning thinking that he was going to do something special that day? What did Casey think that he would do that day? (drive his engine and be on time)

Say: People sometimes said that you could set your watch by the whistle of Casey's train. Ask: Do you know what that means? (always on time, dependable) Why would being on time be important to people traveling on Casey's train? (schedules of other trains or making arrangements to have someone pick you up)

Tell the children that after the train wreck the people realized other things about Casey as well. He became a hero because he saved other people without thinking about himself. Ask the children if they can name other people whom we consider heroes. Be sure to emphasize that it isn't necessary for someone to give his life in order to be a hero.

Say: A monument is something made in honor of a person. It can be a building, a stone pillar or a statue. Ask: If you were to make a monument to Casey Jones what would you say on it? Write responses on the board. Help the children to come up with some words like dependable, unselfish, brave, proud, and loyal. Ask: Would you put any kind of picture on it? Where would be a good place for it to stand?

Allow the students to work alone or with a partner to design a monument to Casey Jones. Have them print the words with black crayon on gray construction paper to simulate etching in stone. Display them with the sign "A Monumental Hero."