ALEX Lesson Plan


Living in the Wild

You may save this lesson plan to your hard drive as an html file by selecting "File", then "Save As" from your browser's pull down menu. The file name extension must be .html.

  This lesson provided by:  
Author:James Holtzclaw
System: Informal Education Partner
School: Informal Education Partner
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 30064


Living in the Wild


In this lesson, students will compare and contrast how the Prehistoric Americans lived off the land at Russell Cave and how Sam Gribley from "My Side of the Mountain" lived off the land.

This lesson plan is made possible through the ALEX and the U.S. National Park Service Partnership.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
ELA2015 (4)
2. Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text. [RL.4.2]
ELA2015 (4)
3. Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character's thoughts, words, or actions). [RL.4.3]
ELA2015 (4)
7. Make connections between the text of a story or drama and a visual or oral presentation of the text, identifying where each version reflects specific descriptions and directions in the text. [RL.4.7]
ELA2015 (4)
24. Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences. [W.4.3]
a. Orient the reader by establishing a situation and introducing a narrator, characters, or both; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally. [W.4.3a]
b. Use dialogue and description to develop experiences and events or show the responses of characters to situations. [W.4.3b]
c. Use a variety of transitional words and phrases to manage the sequence of events. [W.4.3c]
d. Use concrete words and phrases and sensory details to convey experiences and events precisely. [W.4.3d]
e. Provide a conclusion that follows from the narrated experiences or events. [W.4.3e]
ELA2015 (4)
25. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 22-24 above.) [W.4.4]
ELA2015 (4)
30. Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research. [W.4.9]
a. Apply Grade 4 Reading standards to literature (e.g., "Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text [e.g., a character's thoughts, words, or actions]"). [W.4.9a]
b. Apply Grade 4 Reading standards to informational texts (e.g., "Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text"). [W.4.9b]
ELA2015 (4)
34. Identify the reasons and evidence a speaker provides to support particular points. [SL.4.3]
ELA2015 (4)
39. Demonstrate command of the conventions of Standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing. [L.4.2]
a. Use correct capitalization. [L.4.2a]
b. Use commas and quotation marks to mark direct speech and quotations from a text. [L.4.2b]
c. Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction in a compound sentence. [L.4.2c]
d. Spell grade-appropriate words correctly, consulting references as needed. [L.4.2d]
ELA2015 (4)
40. Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening. [L.4.3]
a. Choose words and phrases to convey ideas precisely.* [L.4.3a]
b. Choose punctuation for effect.* [L.4.3b]
c. Differentiate between contexts that call for formal English (e.g., presenting ideas) and situations where informal discourse is appropriate (e.g., small-group discussion). [L.4.3c]
ELA2015 (5)
3. Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact). [RL.5.3]
ELA2015 (5)
8. Compare and contrast stories in the same genre (e.g., mysteries and adventure stories) on their approaches to similar themes and topics. [RL.5.9]
ELA2015 (5)
12. Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text. [RI.5.3]
ELA2015 (5)
14. Compare and contrast the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause and effect, problem and solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in two or more texts. [RI.5.5]
ELA2015 (5)
19. By the end of the year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the Grades 4-5 text complexity band independently and proficiently. [RI.5.10]
ELA2015 (6)
9. Compare and contrast texts in different forms or genres (e.g., stories and poems; historical novels and fantasy stories) in terms of their approaches to similar themes and topics. [RL.6.9]
ELA2015 (6)
10. By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the Grades 6-8 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range. [RL.6.10]
SS2010 (3) Geographic and Historical Studies: People, Places, and Regions
13. Describe prehistoric and historic American Indian cultures, governments, and economics in Alabama. (Alabama)
Examples: prehistoric—Paleo-Indian, Archaic, Woodland, Mississippian
historic—Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Creek (Alabama)
  • Identifying roles of archaeologists and paleontologists
  • SS2010 (5) United States Studies: Beginnings to the Industrial Revolution
    3. Distinguish differences among major American Indian cultures in North America according to geographic region, natural resources, community organization, economy, and belief systems.
  • Locating on a map American Indian nations according to geographic region
  • Local/National Standards:

    I. Culture, II. Time, Continuity, and change, III. People, Places, and Environment, VII. Production, Distribution, and Consumption, and VIII. Science, Technology, and Society

    Primary Learning Objective(s):

    Students will:

    • Learn about the Paleo Indians' nomadic lifestyle.
    • Learn about how the Archaic Indians used tools and weapons to survive at Russell Cave National Monument.
    • Learn about how the Woodland Indians traded among each other.
    • Learn about how the Mississippian Indians practiced agriculture.
    • Learn to distinguish fiction from nonfiction.
    • Answer open-ended questions.
    • Compare story to their lives
    • Learn to tell the difference between fiction and nonfiction stories.
    • Learn about story characters.



    Additional Learning Objective(s):

     Preparation Information 

    Total Duration:

    Greater than 120 Minutes

    Materials and Resources:

    Notebook for reading journal, Pencils, and copies of "My Side of the Mountain" by Jean Craighead George.

    Technology Resources Needed:

    Internet accessible computers



    1) Assign students to read "My Side of the Mountain" by Jean Craighead George. Have students keep a reading journal and write down their feelings and thoughts on how Sam Gribley survives in the Catskills. Each day, assign students thought-provoking questions about the book and have them to answer them in their journals.

    2) After reading "My Side of the Mountain," divide the class into five groups of five and have them to visit Jean Craighead George's official website:

    Jean Craighead George

    Have the groups to click on the writing tab and read Jean Craighead George's instructions on how to write a story. Have each student to write a 200 word story in their journal about their group surviving in the woods for a week.

    3) After the writing assignment, asked the class if they could depend on each other to survive in the woods. Explain to them that the Prehistoric Americans helped each other survive in the wild using the same techniques that Sam Gribley used in "My Side of the Mountain."


    4) Invite a ranger to visit the classroom to give a presentation on the four prehistoric time periods that are represented at Russell Cave National Monument: Paleo Period, Archaic Period, Woodland Period, and Mississippian Period. (Contact Russell Cave National Monument Ranger)  During the ranger's program, have the students to take notes in their journals about the Prehistoric Americans who survived in the wilderness at Russell Cave National Monument. Have the students list the similarities that the Prehistoric Americans have with Sam Gribley.At the end of the program, make sure to ask the ranger questions about how the Prehistoric Americans survived in their wild environment. (See Ranger's Questionnaire Attachment)


    5) After the ranger's program, have the students to complete the activity packet about the Prehistoric Americans and "My Side of the Mountain." See activity packet attachment.



    **Some files will display in a new window. Others will prompt you to download.

    Assessment Strategies

    Students will use their activity packet to write a GIST. To write a GIST (the gist of the matter), students will summarize what they have learned in exactly twenty words.


    If students finish with their activity packet, have them to peer tutor those who are having a difficult time in completing the activity packet.


    Have them to be peer tutor and allow them extra time to complete the assignment

    Each area below is a direct link to general teaching strategies/classroom accommodations for students with identified learning and/or behavior problems such as: reading or math performance below grade level; test or classroom assignments/quizzes at a failing level; failure to complete assignments independently; difficulty with short-term memory, abstract concepts, staying on task, or following directions; poor peer interaction or temper tantrums, and other learning or behavior problems.

    Presentation of Material Environment
    Time Demands Materials
    Attention Using Groups and Peers
    Assisting the Reluctant Starter Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior
    Be sure to check the student's IEP for specific accommodations.