Chapter 6: Two Big Bears

Teacher's Guide Chapter Author: Sarah Nicol, 5th grade teacher, Wing and Lily Fong Elementary School, Clark County School District

Chapter Overview: It is still winter time, but it time for Pa to go into town to try and sell his furs. He comes back after selling his furs with gifts for Ma and the children. He also comes back with a story to tell the family. While Pa was coming back from town it was getting dark and he thought he saw a bear. He went after it and it only turned out to be a tree stump. That same night Ma and Laura did encounter a real bear. They were outside their house and as soon as they realized it was a bear and not their cow they ran inside. Everyone was safe, but they were all a bit shaken up.

Chapter Themes: Fur trapping and trading; Storytelling; Dangers in the woods; Towns and stores of the 18th century; Milking cows; Lighting methods (lanterns, candles); Lack of communication between 18th century homes); Gifts from town (textiles, material); Bears (hibernation, behaviors); Change of seasons

Chapter Activities
  • Language Arts
    • Storytelling
      • Students will come up with their own story on a dangerous situation. Students can choose to have their story set in the late 1800's or present day. Students will share their stories with the class.
      • Standards Addressed
        • 9.5 give organized reports with a clear point of view.
        • 6.5 write paragraphs with main ideas
    • Quick Draw
      • When the teacher gets to page 109 each student will get out a piece of scratch paper and a pencil. As the teacher is reading, the students will draw a picture of what they think the bear looks like. Students will have until page 113 to draw the picture because on this page the bear is revealed to be a tree stump. Students will hold up their pictures and compare with their classmates.
      • Standards Addressed
        • 3.5 make inferences about character's traits; predict conflicts and resolutions
        • 8.5 identify the speakers viewpoint
  • Mathematics
    • Comparing the speed of man vs. bear
      • Students will research how fast the average bear can run. They will also come up with an average speed for a person. Students will discuss whether or not they think that Pa could have outrun the bear.
      • Standards Addressed
        • 5.5 compute the measure of mean
        • 5.5.1 pose questions that can be used to guide numerical data.
    • Distance Pa walked from the house to town
      • Using the Internet students will research how far people might have had to travel from their rural homes to a town in the 1870's. Once students have come up with an average distance a person may have to walk in the 1870's, the class will relate that to how far they have to walk to school. The teacher will pull up a map and students will start at their school and draw a line to show how far they might have had to walk in the 1870's.
      • Standards Addressed
        • 5.5.1 pose questions that can be used to guide numerical data.
        • 5.5.4 represent and solve problems involving combination using a variety of methods.
  • Social Studies
    • Fur Trading
      • Class will discuss fur trading using their social studies text books. Students will pretend they are living in the 1800's and they will have to come up with a product that they could make and sell for profit.
      • Standards Addressed
        • 11.5 record information using note-taking and organizational formats.
        • 4.5.1 use formats, graphs, sequence, diagrams, charts, and maps to comprehend text.
    • Fur Hides
      • Class will discuss the process of producing fur hides. Class will brainstorm all of the different ways fur hides could have been used in the late 1800's
      • Standards Addressed
        • 10.5 ask and answer questions to clarify or extend ideas
        • 10.5.3 compare and contrast ideas and viewpoints of several speakers.
  • Science
    • Hibernation
      • Class will research hibernation. Students will need to record five facts in their notebooks. Students will get into groups of four and discuss what they recorded. If they hear anything new and/or interesting they will record it into their notebooks. Then as a whole group students will share what they found and the teacher will write it in a circle or flow map.
      • Standards Addressed
        • 11.5 establish a focus and purpose for inquiry.
        • 10.5 ask and answer questions to clarify or extend ideas.
    • New plant life
      • Class will research the life cycle of a plant. Using a flow map they will show the life cycle of a plant. Students will also grow their own plant in the class and record its life in a flow map.
      • Standards Addressed
        • 11.5 record information using note-taking and organizational formats.
        • 4.5.2 discern main ideas and supporting evidence.
Historical Overview of Chapter Themes
The Fur Trade

1600's to mid 1800's
The purpose of fur trading was essentially to make money. Fur trade had political benefits as well. Those who traded were in some cases able to forge alliances and maintain good relationships between different cultures. This was very prevalent when the Europeans were dealing with the Native Americans and vice versa. In 1834 John Jacob Astor, who controlled the largest American fur trading company retired. He know that fur-bearing animals were becoming scarce. How did the decline in fur bearing animals affect the Native Americans and the Europeans? The Native Americans, who obtained goods from the Europeans, were finding it more difficult to pay off their debts. Sometimes the result was the Native Americans would sell land to the European settlers.

Early to late 1800's
Mountain Men and Fur Traders in the west were in search of beaver pelts and fortunes. Some of those people were Benjamin Bonneville, Jim Bridger, Kit Carson, John Colter, Jedidiah Smith, and William Sublette. Some of these men are also remembered as explorers because they had discovered place in the west, such as the Great Salt Lake.

Beaver Pelts
Prime beaver pelts were taken in October thru November, and from late February into April. Traps would be set in the water and these men would wade in the water so the beaver wouldn't be able to smell their scent. Once the trapper catches the beaver he dries the pelt. For those who were traveling long distances the pelt might have been pressed into a ninety-pound pack. On average it would take sixty pelts to make a pack.

Some people trapped animals for their fur to support their families, like Laura's father. Others were explorers and went off searching for a fortune, like Jedidiah Smith


VernaBurn said...

Such a great Mathematics idea. I think the students will all enjoy doing the research about the speed of a bear compared to that of a man.

At first thought I am sure most students would say that they could outrun a bear, but are they correct? This project would be wonderful for the third grade students that I teach. They struggle with combining and comparing numbers. This would be a fun way for them to get interested in, not only the topic but the mathematics as well.

It would be wonderful if you were able to combine several of your lesson ideas into a unit on bears.

Christy G. Keeler, Ph.D. said...

I love the quick-draw activity. What a wonderful way to help students envision what is occurring in a story and teach them about including details and suspense in stories.

Consider using Google Earth to map student's distances to walk to school. They will love seeing the satellite images and this will introduce them to a new technology. After all, this is the type of map they'll be using as adults.

I'm not seeing the connection between the cycle of plant growth and the chapter. Could you elaborate?