What a Rush! The California Gold Rush
Why was the Gold Rush an important period in California History?
Summary

This site serves as a resource for teachers who want to examine the time period in California History known as the Gold Rush with their students. It addresses concepts such as: why and how the Gold Rush began, what life was like during the Gold Rush, and what lasting effects the Gold Rush had on Californiaís people and land.  Students will take away a better understanding of the incredible impact that the Gold Rush had on California history. Students will explore the hardships of life and travel during this time period. Students will also discuss why the Gold Rush created conflict and tension among the various groups of people living in California.

Rationale

By the time students have reached 4th grade, most of them have heard about the Gold Rush.  They all know it was an exciting time when gold was found and people began digging for gold in the hills of California.  However, most of them have no knowledge of the hardships individuals and families endured while traveling to California in search of gold, nor do they understand the sacrifices that were made.  Students also need to understand how this influx of newcomers drastically changed the lives of the people who were already living  in California  (for example: the Native Americans, the "Californios", the European traders and trappers, and the American pioneers and settlers).  Itís also important for students to understand how the increased diversity of the poplulation created many new economic and business opportunities, while at the same time it created much conflict and great tension among the various groups.  Students need to acknowledge what an important part the Gold Rush played in making California the state it is today.

Topic:
California Gold Rush
Themes:
Adaptation
California History
Conflict
Diversity
Dreams
Gold Mining
Focus Content Area:
History/Social Science

Secondary Content Area:
English/Language Arts
Grade Level:
4