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Fourth Grade Heads to the Gold Rush Country
4th Grade Coloma overnight


For the culmination of their California history unit, the fourth grade students headed to the gold rush country town of Coloma on their first overnight trip. The students spent two days at the Coloma Outdoor Discovery School, a living history center dedicated to environmental stewardship and education about the 49ers and local indigenous peoples. The students lived as the miners did: panning for gold, trading goods, making cornbread in a dutch oven, and building a shelter from the elements. “The students were challenged to build a rain shelter large enough for 16 people,” remarked Fourth Grade Teacher Ann Malamud, “using six wooden poles, two large tarps, and six pieces of rope. There was even a simulated rainstorm when the naturalists threw buckets of water onto the roofs!”

Key highlights from the trip included a visit from a local Nisenan tribal member, who told stories about his tribe and their way of life, and shared indigenous myths connecting the people to the land. The students took notes and paused for reflection in between real-life simulations of the life of a miner. Each student was given a leather pouch emblazoned with their gold miner name to use during their visit, which they dipped in the river to signify their experience and transformation from a “greenhorn” to a “sourdough.” 

Students loved the trip despite higher than normal temperatures during their visit. “I never knew I could hike this much, especially in this heat,” said one exhausted, yet proud, student. 

Several students told Ms. Malamud that it was the highlight of their school year.