California Gold Rush

Week 2: The California Gold Rush

Read K – 5: Gold Fever by Catherine McMorrow

6 – 8: The Journal of Wong Ming-Chung (My Name is America Series) by Laurence Yep; Be sure to read Epilogue and “Historical Note” at the end of the book.


  • Who found the first gold nugget in California? (James Marshall)
  • Why did his boss, Mr. Sutter, want to keep it a secret? (afraid men would abandon jobs to look for gold)
  • What happened when the secret got out? (Men left jobs to look for gold.)
  • How did people all over the world find out? (President James Polk confirmed reports that much gold was found in California.)
  • Why were many gold seekers called “Forty-Niners”? (Because many came in the year 1849.)
  • Soon thousands of people came to California looking for gold. Where did they come from? (Eastern states, Mexico, Australia, Europe, China)
  • Name the three ways people got to California? (traveled across the states, sailed in ship around bottom of South America, sailed in ship to Panama – then crossed a dangerous jungle and caught a boat on the other side to California.)
  • Describe the dangers men faced with these travels. (danger crossing the plains: took a long time, could run out of food, could freeze in the mountains; danger sailing around bottom of South America: took a long time, could run out of food, freezing weather, storms at sea; danger crossing jungle in Panama: disease, deadly insect bites, etc.)
  • T/F Mostly women traveled to California during the Gold Rush (False)
  • T/F California had a large population before the Gold Rush. (False)
  • T/F An amazing amount of gold was found in California. (True)
  • T/F For most miners, getting the gold out of the earth and streams, was long, hard work. (True)
  • T/F Gambling, prejudice, and lawlessness was widespread in California during the gold rush. (True)

Questions for grades 6 – 8:

  • Why did many Chinese come to California? (Conditions in China very bad; many were starving.)
  • Describe some of the problems Chinese miners faced. (Had to pay special tax just because they were Chinese; if someone stole their property, they couldn’t take them to court because a non-white’s testimony wasn’t valid; Chinese had no legal protection; Chinese were persecuted and bullied by many white miners.)

Activities: All Ages: Trace three main routes most people took to California; Then trace the route the Chinese took to get to California.
K – 2: Gold Rush coloring page:
3 – 4: Gold Rush Booklet: and or Levi Straus worksheet:
5 – 6: Gold Rush Immigrant worksheet:
AND/OR Levi Straus worksheet:
7 – 8: Three Essay choices:
Essay 1: Describe 3 hardships Wong Ming-Chung faced while working as a miner.
Essay 2: Wong Ming Chung feels torn at the end of the book. He wants to stay and he wants to go home. Why does he feel this way? What would you have chosen to do?
Essay 3: Wong Ming Chung’s father tells him at the end of the book that he knew if anyone could keep his uncle alive it would be him. Do you think his uncle would have made it without him? Describe in detail at least 2 ways Wong Ming Chung was a great help to his uncle.


Copyright January 16th, 2015 by Gwen Fredette


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Filed under Charlotte Mason, Civil War Era

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