Six Sets of Gold Rush Lesson Plans

Personally, I don’t care for it, but I’ve heard a lot of students talk about Discovery’s television show Gold Rush Alaska. That gave me the idea for this list of lesson plans for teaching about the original gold rushes in North America.

The National Parks Service offers fifteen lesson plans about the Klondike Gold Rush. The lessons are designed for use with students in grades two through eight. You can view the lessons online or download them as PDFs. The lessons are combination of online and offline activities.

EdSitement offers a very in-depth, six part lesson plan for teaching about the Klondike Gold Rush. The lessons are designed for middle school and high school students. An emphasis is placed on using primary documents and images to inform writing.

National Geographic Xpeditions has a 2-3 hours lesson plan for elementary school students about the boom and bust of gold rush towns. The lesson plan calls for students to view and reflect on a series of photographs of gold rush towns.

PBS has a website built as a companion to their American Experience television program about the Gold Rush. You can use many of the resources on the website without watching the program. The Strike it Rich game, the interactive map, and the timeline can all be used without having seen the American Experience Gold Rush episodes.

The Oakland Museum of Calfornia has a great set of resources for teaching about the California Gold Rush. On the museum’s website you will find lesson plans for elementary school, middle school, and high school use. The virtual exhibit includes art and images about the gold rush as well as narratives about gold rush participants. After exploring the online exhibit students can take a quiz about the California Gold Rush.

Harcourt School Publishers has a free website that is designed to accompany their elementary school textbooks. On the website students can scroll through a series of drawings about Sutter’s Mill (the place where gold was discovered setting off the gold rush). Clicking on each image reveals a box of text summarizing the significance of that image. Harcourt School Publishers also has a short timeline of the gold rush.


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