Friday, July 24, 2015

Poetry, Writing, and Geography: Western USA

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
Photo Credit: James Marvin Phelps
Geography Skills

Latitude, longitude, and directions. Do World Geography Daily Skill Builders activities 5-8.


Create a map with Zeemaps. Suggestions: A homeschooling map, a family map, a travel map, a personal map.


Go around the circle, everyone naming a state. If you can't think of one that hasn't been named, you're out.
Do this state worksheet in pairs.

Six Things to Know About Western US

1. Rocky Mountains

   Bighorn Range
   Absaroka Range
   Laramie Mountains
   Sangre de Cristo Range
   San Juan Mountains
   Sacramento Mountains
   Blue Mountains
   Bitterroot Range
   Monitor Range
   Sierra Nevada Range
   Coast Range
   Cascade Range

2. Deserts

   Mojave Desert
   Colorado Plateau
   Sonoran Desert
   Great Basin Desert
   Chihuahuan Desert

Where are the boundaries for a desert?

3. Rivers & Lakes

   Rio Grande
   Salt Lake

4. Natural Wonders

   Grand Canyon
   Old Faithful
   Carlsbad Caverns

5. History Points
    Native Americans
    Spanish Occupation
    Settlers and Frontiersman
    Western Expansion and Railroad

6. States and Capitals West of the Mississippi

Activity: Folk Hero Workshop

Print out this worksheet.

Watch Paul Bunyan
Watch Pecos Bill
Talk about similarities between the two legends, similarities with other mythologies. What was the need in the old west for "tall tales"? What did we need from a folk hero then? How are folk heros in America like Greek gods? How different? (Dispassionate, explain natural phenomena, interact with humans, human origin / supernatural origin) What attitudes from folk hero stories have we now discarded? (timbering is good, smoking, gunslinging, native americans no longer enemies) What new folk heroes might be needed in this contemporary age?

Create a folk hero using the worksheet. Work alone, in pairs, or as a team.


Pioneers! O Pioneers! by Walt Whitman

Activity: Old West Characters. 

Watch one of these movies:
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
High Noon.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Dances with Wolves.
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

See how many of these old west character archetypes you can identify. Read over the list before you watch:

The Drifter
The Gunslinger
Fastest Gun in the West
Young Gun
The Rustler
Retired Outlaw
Bounty Hunter
The Sheriff and the Clueless Deputy
U.S. Marshal
Camp Cook
Mountain Man
The Pioneer
Rich Folk
Cattle Baron
Railroad Baron
The Barber
The Blacksmith
City Slicker
Frontier Doctor
Snake Oil Salesman
Meek Townsman
Pony Express Rider
Shop Keeper
Southern Gentleman
The Church
Preacher Man
The Saloon
The Bartender
Dancing Girl
The Piano Player
Professional Gambler
Saloon Owner
Indian Maiden
The "Half-Breed"
The Noble Indian
The Savage Indian
The Army
Army Scout
Cavalry Officer


Time: 20 Minutes
Length: 1 page

Discuss: What is a pioneer?

Ask yourself the question: Would you be a pioneer or not? You can choose whatever frontier you want -- one we talked about or one we didn't think of yet. Politics, art, space, jungle, desert, sports, business, science, math, archaeology, etc. Remember as per our discussion there are lots of good reasons to be a pioneer and there are lots of good reasons NOT to be a pioneer. Choose one:

I will be a pioneer.   OR   I will not be a pioneer.

Your short essay will have four paragraphs.
Intro: Where is the frontier? Make sure your reader knows what field you are talking about.
Body: What is a pioneer on this frontier? Who will I be and what is my role?
Conclusion: Why?

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