Pony Express, Gold Rush, and Transcontinental Railroad

This is the final lesson in our Homeschool history for kids  unit on westward expansion for kids. Our hands on history projects this week included panning for gold, making a transcontinental railroad track, a homeschool fieldtrip to an actual pony express station, lots of great books, and more free printables for homeschoolers.
westward expansion for kids

This is our 3rd and final week of our Westward Expansion Unit. Make sure to see links at the bottom for our complete unit, resources, book recommendations, and {free} printable pack – it has been SO much fun!

Gold Rush, Ghost Towns, Transcontiental Railroad and Westwatrd Expansion Books we read & LOVED!

The Pony Express for Kids

We learned about the Pony Express and how it carried mail to the west coast during a crucial time in American History – right before the Civil War. It cost $5 for 1/2 an ounce so it wasn’t cheap! Mail took about 10 1/2 days to get from Missouri to California. With the expansion of telegraph lines, the Pony Express was no longer an effective means for delivering mail. The Pony Express was only used for 18 months.

Original Pony Express Station in Gothenburg, NE - homeschool fieldtrip

We also were able to take a fieldtrip to see an original Pony Express Station in Gothenburg, NE. I love that homeschooling allows us to take extended fieldtrips off peak season when crowds and prices are down!

Notebooking on Westward Expansion Unit

August 2012 104
Goofy drew pictures and wrote the last couple pages to his Westward Expansion Book (this is a {free} printable included in Westward Expansion Unit #1). I may be a little partial, but I thought his drawing came out AMAZINGLY well for a 1st grader!! I am really impressed with the Draw Write Now series.

Panning for Gold for Kids

hands on history for kids - panning for gold in california gold rush
First we learning about the discover of gold by James Marshall on January 24, 1848 in California. We read how people flocked to California anyway they could (land, seas, or river) to try to get a share of the finds. Then we went panning for gold ourselves! I used the brown rice & gold fusion beads from our sensory box and dumped them in our pool. I added some water so they could feel like they were panning in a river/stream too! It had a nice side effect – the brown rice made the water cloudy – even better!! The kids used a dish to scope up the contents and try to sort through the rice (representing rocks/gravel) to find the gold. They had SO much fun!

The 1st Transcontinental Railroad for Kids
Transcontinental Railroad for Kids
We also learned how the railroad expanded between 1863-1869 to connect the Eastern United States with the west to form the First Transcontinental Railroad.  Once the railroad was completed, it slowly ended the more hazardous stagecoach and wagon caravans. The telegraph lines were actually laid on the railroad right of way as the track was being laid.

Westward Expansion Unit:

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For more Homeschooling History Units see: 

explorers unit   image1422    image_thumb4  And as always, I truly appreciate you taking the time to leave me a comment =-)

About the author

Beth Gorden

Beth Gorden is the creative multi-tasking creator of 123 Homeschool 4 Me. As a busy homeschooling mother of six, she strives to create hands-on learning activities and worksheets that kids will love to make learning FUN! Beth is also the creator of www.kindergartenworksheetsandgames.com where she shares Kindergarten spedicif worksheets,& educational ideas.

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