Tag Archives: early California



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This was a lesson created for Grade 3 students to complement what they learn about the early settlers of California.

Diseños are maps and plans of the early ranchos. The students looked at images of diseños from the UCLA Special collection; Charles E. Young Research Library.


We talked about what information needed to be in their map as well as why it would have been important to the early settlers. It was a great opportunity to reintroduce the compass rose and map terms.

Students created line drawings of their own rancho as if they were an settler. They used black marker then filled in with color. They could use watercolor, marker, crayon or colored pencil.

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Cattle Brands


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Students in grade 3 learn about the Rancho Period of California.  This was another lesson created for a specific teacher.

For this project, students looked at examples of cattle brands from early California Ranchos. They created their own brands or modified one they saw. They drew the brand onto cardboard, went over the lines in glue then added dimension with roving yarn.

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Explorer Portraits



The Social Studies books come with decks of cards. The teachers use them for all sorts of things. I like to use them for portraits. For fourth grade, we looked at the early CAlifornia Explorers. For fifth grade, they look at the explorers of the world. I have had the students use chalk pastel, colored pencil or marker for this lesson.

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They frame their portraits in interesting borders and use a name ribbon across the picture so that viewers know who the explorer is.


Student used the social studies cards for reference or they could find other images of their explorer.

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Miner 49er Postcards


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As part of the Social Studies curriculum, Fourth Graders in learn about our state history and that includes a bit about the miners. For this lesson, I show the students a PowerPoint about the history of mining in California.

I also have them look at antique postcards to get ideas for our miner postcards (I tell them postcards were not in use until the late 1800’s) . I also bring in some tin types and daguerreotypes which allows them to see a bit of history.

The students choose an image to create their postcard. Once complete, they write out a postcard as if they are a miner sending a note back home. I mount them side by side on paper.