The Ballad of Lucy Whipple
Age 9-11: Concept 3 - Discovery and Survival: Unit 3

California is not only the setting of this story but the name of the main character. California Whipple is not excited about her new life in California and is constantly planning ways to return to her home state of Massachusetts. Explore what life was like for the prospectors and those living in the Gold Rush communities as they struggled to survive and prosper. Practice writing interesting and varied sentences, integrating prepositional phrases into writing, and working through the writing process to produce a persuasive essay.

This unit can be used independently, but it is also designed to be used concurrently with the science/social studies unit, Westward Expansion.


  • Able to read and comprehend novels at a late 5th or 6th grade reading level
  • Able to write multiple paragraphs on a topic
  • Usually used by children in fifth grade

Table of Contents

  • Lesson 1: From Massachusetts to California
  • Lesson 2: Change
  • Lesson 3: An Entrepeneur
  • Lesson 4: A Ballad
  • Lesson 5: A New Friend
  • Lesson 6: Clyde Claymore
  • Lesson 7: Loss
  • Lesson 8: Fire!
  • Lesson 9: The Sandwich Islands
  • Lesson 10: A Library
  • Final Project: Persuasive Essay (3 Days)

Summary of Skills

Moving Beyond the Page is based on state and national standards. These standards are covered in this unit.
  • Acquire vocabulary through reading and word study. (Language Arts)
  • Analyze characters' traits and points of view. (Language Arts)
  • Apply an understanding of synonyms when writing. (Language Arts)
  • Apply knowledge of idioms to determine meanings. (Language Arts)
  • Apply knowledge of synonyms and antonyms to determine meaning of words. (Language Arts)
  • Articulate and discuss themes. (Language Arts)
  • Ask different types of questions. (Language Arts)
  • Combine short, related sentences with appositives, participial phrases, adjectives, adverbs, and prepositional phrases. (Language Arts)
  • Compare text events with personal experiences. (Language Arts)
  • Compose poetry using assigned topics and forms. (Language Arts)
  • Conduct research and raise new questions for further investigation. (Language Arts)
  • Draw conclusions and make inferences about characters. (Language Arts)
  • Elaborate ideas in writing by using prepositions. (Language Arts)
  • Emphasize points in ways that help the listener or viewer to follow important ideas and concepts. (Language Arts)
  • Examine reasons for characters' actions. (Language Arts)
  • Frame questions to direct research. (Language Arts)
  • Give precise directions and instructions. (Language Arts)
  • Identify and interpret elements of fiction by referencing text. (Language Arts)
  • Identify and interpret major themes in novels by referencing the text. (Language Arts)
  • Identify and use parts of speech in writing. (Language Arts)
  • Identify and use prepositions. (Language Arts)
  • Identify how language usages (e.g., sayings and expressions) reflect regions and cultures. (Language Arts)
  • Increase reading and writing vocabulary through word study. (Language Arts)
  • Interact with text by making connections with previous experiences. (Language Arts)
  • Make inferences and draw conclusions about events and themes within a novel. (Language Arts)
  • Make inferences and draw conclusions about themes. (Language Arts)
  • Monitor comprehension by asking questions. (Language Arts)
  • Organize and compose letters. (Language Arts)
  • Paraphrase and summarize text. (Language Arts)
  • Present effective introductions and conclusions that guide and inform the listener's understanding of important ideas and evidence. (Language Arts)
  • Produce works that follow the conventions of a particular genre, including letter writing. (Language Arts)
  • Recognize the distinguishing features of poetry. (Language Arts)
  • Summarize major points from fiction text. (Language Arts)
  • Take notes from relevant sources. (Language Arts)
  • Use a thesaurus to find synonyms for words. (Language Arts)
  • Use a variety of sentence types, such as compound and complex. (Language Arts)
  • Use details, examples, anecdotes, or experiences to explain or clarify information. (Language Arts)
  • Use knowledge of characters' traits to determine motivations. (Language Arts)
  • Use prepositional phrases to elaborate ideas. (Language Arts)
  • Use reference aids to clarify meanings and usage of vocabulary words. (Language Arts)
  • Use traditional structures for conveying information (e.g., cause and effect, similarity and difference, posing and answering a question). (Language Arts)
  • Write in complete sentences, varying the types, such as compound and complex. (Language Arts)
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