Students watch a video about Virginia City, Montana, and learn about what role the gold strike in Alder Gulch played in the early history of the city. They then write a two-minute dramatic scene to perform in class at a later time.
This lesson is part of "Great States: Montana | Unit 6: Settlement & Migration to Montana," a study of how and why Montana attracted diverse settlement.
3.3: Describe and illustrate ways in which people interact with their physical environment (e.g., land use, the location of communities, methods of construction, the design of shelters).
3.4: Describe how human movement and settlement patterns reflect the wants and needs of diverse cultures.
4.1: Identify and use various sources of information (e.g., artifacts, diaries, photographs, charts, biographies, paintings, architecture, songs) to develop an understanding of the past.
Helena District 3.3: Explain how physical environment affected the land use, location, and development of Montana; determine how location affected the choice of food, clothing, and shelter for Montana’s native tribes and early settlers.
Helena District 3.4: Describe how human movement and settlement patterns reflected the wants and needs of diverse cultures in Montana history.
Video: Virginia City: Rise and Fall
An interactive whiteboard, projector, or another type of screen to show videos to the class
Class set of Plot Ideas handout
- Explain to students that, in 1863, gold was discovered in Alder Gulch, near what would become Nevada City and Virginia City, Montana.
- Tell students they will be watching a video about Virginia City and the early days of Montana’s Gold Rush. [Note that this video depicts the “time of lawlessness,” and shows a reenactment of a hanging. To avoid showing the violence of the vigilante era, the video can be stopped at 3:00.]
- Play the video, Virginia City: Rise and Fall. [4:33]
- Ask students to imagine what it might be like to live in Virginia City during the gold rush. Tell them they will write a two-minute scene to possibly act out in class.
- Distribute the Plot Ideas handout, and let students have a few minutes to choose an idea or make up their own.
- Students work quietly and independently to develop their scene.
- (Optional: Students volunteer to cast, rehearse, and present their scene to the class at a later time.)