With permission from Lora Bishop, I have copied her Kindergarten lesson plan using my book. Many of her ideas adapt to other grade levels. At the bottom of the page are more ideas for incorporating How the West Was Drawn into core curricula.

How History is Learned

Lora Bishop, Dorothy Moody Elementary School, Overland Park, Kansas

Shawnee Mission District #512

This learning activity was created for “The Richest Hills: Mining in the Far West, 1865–1920,” sponsored by the Montana Historical Society and funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities Landmarks of American History and Culture: Workshops for Schoolteachers.

Grade Level: Kindergarten

Subject(s): Social Studies, Reading/Language, Art


1000.15 Student will recognize periods in literature – past and present.

7500.12 Student will create an artwork based on a period of history.

7500.13 Student will discover artifacts used by different cultures and time periods

Duration: This lesson will be completed in three forty-five minute blocks. Assessment will take an additional sixty minute period.


Goal: Students will create a work of art showing their concept of long ago in terms of subject matter and objects found in history in the late 1800s.

Objectives: Students will be able to transfer the understanding of long ago (late 1800’s), gained from the story book How the West Was Drawn, to a drawing they conceptualize and generate showing a scene from long ago.


1. Linda L. Osmundson, How the West Was Drawn: Cowboy Charlies’s Art (Gretna, Louisiana, 2011).

2. Chart paper for class listing activities

3. White construction paper and crayons for creating artwork


The following description of my lesson has been set up in the model that Shawnee Mission School District requires for evaluation purposes. There are six areas the district looks at for student comprehension.

A. Anticipatory Set: The class will look at “Cowboy Camp During the Roundup –ca. 1885-1887, in the book How the West Was Drawn: Cowboy Charlie’s Art, written by Linda L. Osmundson. I will pose the question, “When does this picture look like it happened – today or long ago?” As a class we will list all of the items we see that let us know it took place long ago.

B. Objective/Purpose: Students will be able to transfer the knowledge of long ago to make their own drawing depicting the 1800’s as in Mr. Stewart’s works of art.

C. Input/Modeling: I will introduce the book How the West Was Drawn to the kids. I will discuss Charles Russell with them; and how he was an artist who drew and painted what he lived. We will read the book, stopping to answer the questions the author, Ms. Osmundson, asks us about Charlie Russell’s artwork. Her questions focus on the history of the period.

D. Guided Practice: As a class we will list all the things about long ago we learned from Charles Russell’s artwork and Linda Osmundson’s book. I will draw a picture on the white board about long ago. The students will tell me things to use from their generated list. I will set a timer for 10 minutes and the students may give me suggestions about what to add to my picture. I will provide immediate feedback as to the correctness of a student’s idea. They must provide objects and subjects from long ago.

E. Independent Practice: The students will create their own illustration of long ago on a piece of white construction paper that I will provide. They may use any of the items the class came up with on the list of long ago. They must pick at least five things from the late 1800’s period, but may draw more if they would like.

F. Monitor and Re-teach as needed: I will move throughout the desk area monitoring, giving praise, and correcting students’ work as needed to fit the objective.


The students will create a drawing of a current day scene. They will compare and contrast this drawing with their long ago drawing. We will verbally list the things we see that are different and unique to long ago. This will be a whole class assessment though we will look at pictures individually.

Extension activities:

1. Create a painting out of the drawing.

2. Create a diorama from their drawing. They would do this with their sixth grade buddies.

3. Compare and contrast using a three circle Venn diagram. The Venn diagram would be created on the floor using two hula-hoops. We would write the items on sentence strips and place them in the correct area of the Venn diagram, either Topic One(long ago), Topic Two (present day), or both.


Kindergarten teacher, Lora Bishop, gave me permission to share her lesson plan using my book. Many of her ideas adapt to other grade levels. Find it by clicking Kindergarten Lesson Plan.

Other ideas for use in common core curricula include the following:


  • Pick any picture as a storytelling prompt. Use the five senses to help children put themselves in the painting. Ask: "If you were in this painting, what would you see? Hear? Smell? Taste? How would something feel if you touched it? If you were in the painting, how would you feel?"
  • Then suggest they turn an imaginary switch like on a TV to make the picture come to life. Have them tell what would happen next or finish the story the picture presents. They can perform their stories or write them.
  • Require they show/tell in their story the who, what, when, where, why and how.


  • Do not tell the students they are going to write poetry. Instead, set the scene and lead them to make poetry.
  • Ask the children to describe the painting with adjectives. Make a list down a page or on the board.
  • Then ask the children to use "as" or "like" with a noun to make similes. List. Read what they have written with lots of expression.


  • colorful like or as a rainbow
  • beautiful like or as a sunset
  • sad as a hurt child
  • happy as a bride

Only after reading the poem, tell them they have written poetry.

Choose another picture and write similes to make another poem.


  1. Have the children check out library books dealing with the turn of the 20th Century when Charles Russell , Frederic Remington and the 14 women artists worked and lived.
  2. Study history of their own state. Find out if similar conditions for their state's early life matched that of the artists.
  3. Compare a home of today to a home in the late 1800s to early 1900s.
  4. Compare clothing, toys, transportation and entertainment.
  5. Write a play about Russel, Remington or one of the women artists.
  6. Visit a history, art, or pioneer museum.


Looking at art:

  • Use one of the book's art objects. Play a game of naming everything they see. Rules: Each child names something they see. They can't name anything named before. See if they name all there is including lines, shapes, colors as well as things. Play the game again looking at another piece from the book.
  • Have them look at one picture for one minute. Close the book. Name what they saw. Open the book. Did they name everything? What did they miss?
  • Have each child choose their favorite picture. Have one child tell three clues about the picture they have chosen such as "It has at least three people. It has the color blue. There is an animal." Have the class guess which picture it is by first asking three yes or no questions such as "Is there a man? Is there an Indian? Does a woman carry an umbrella?" Then they can guess which picture the child chose. Select another child to play.
  • Choose which picture is their favorite and tell why.
  • Discuss the different mediums used - oil, wax, watercolor, ink, bronze.
  • Discuss different styles of art and determine which the artists used.
  • Draw or paint a cowboy or Indian.
  • Research other artists of the time period.
  • Research western artists of today and compare to Russell,Remington, and the women's works.

Related studies:

  • Different forms of the visual arts - sculpture, ceramics, architecture, drawing, photography, prints and painting.
  • In painting, study the various mediums - oil, watercolor, pastels, graphite (pencil) and crayon, to name a few.
  • Study different styles: realism, Impressionism, abstract.
  • Look at other artists' works of the same period. How do they differ? What were their subjects? How are they alike?
  • Men painted/sculpted but so did women. Find other women who painted/sculpted the West.


  • Follow the two artists' travels on a map.


  • St. Louis, Missouri
  • Burlington , New Jersey
  • Montana
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Great Falls, Montana
  • Lake McDonald, Montana
  • New York City, New York
  • London, England
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Canada
  • Arizona
  • New Mexico
  • Cuba
  • Ogdensburg, New York
  • Leadville, Colorado
  • Taos, New Mexico