Teaching Geography With Children’s Literature: The Santa Fe Trail



Introduction and Summary

The Santa Fe Trail by Judy Alter is a book about settlers traveling West in order to find a better life in the United States.  However, much of what is talked about in the book is the different terrain that the settlers come across while on their journey out West.  The book includes many photos and illustrations of the types of terrain settlers dealt with on their long journey, including overgrown grassy fields, the Rocky mountains, and even deserts.  The book also illustrates maps of the trail as well as states it ran through. The Santa Fe Trail goes into depth as well about westward expansion, important figures who were involved, and even gives a list of important vocabulary words in the back of the book as well as a timeline of events.


Curriculum Connections

This book would be great to use in a unit about traveling out West, particularly on trails such as the Santa Fe.  This book would be best for grades 3-5 because it involves quite a bit of text as well as vocabulary words that might be somewhat advanced for younger grades.  In Virginia, this book would be a great resource to use with Virginia SOL standards USII.2 and USII.3.

Additional Resources

 1. Here is a fun way for students to learn more about the Santa Fe Trail through a webquest.

2. This site is not a webquest but allows students to visit various interesting sites about the Santa Fe Trail in order to fill in the blanks for questions they are supposed to answer (listed on site).  Teachers can go over these questions in class once students have completed the assignment.

3. This is an activity book with lots of fun games about the Santa Fe Trail for students to play.

General Information

Book: The Santa Fe Trail

Author: Judy Alter

Illustrator: n/a

Publisher: Children’s Press

Publication Date: 1998

Pages: 30

Grade Range: 3-5

ISBN: 0-516-26396-X

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