Mining History Lesson Plans and Resources

Mining Childhood, Growing Up in Butte, Montana, 1900-1960 Classroom Resources Published by the Montana Historical Society Press, Mining Childhood: Growing Up in Butte, Montana, 1900-1960 offers a child’s eye view of “the Richest Hill on Earth.” PDFs of several sections of Mining Childhood (Lexile Level 1120L) are available for teachers to download at no charge to share with their students. In addition, several lesson plans are available to help teach this material. 

Girl from the Gulches: The Story of Mary Ronan Study Guide (Designed for students 6-10). This study guide includes lesson plans, vocabulary, chapter summaries and questions, alignment to the Common Core, and other information to facilitate classroom use of Girl from the Gulches: The Story of Mary Ronan, as told to Margaret Ronan, edited by Ellen Baumler. Set in the second half of the nineteenth century, this highly readable 222-page memoir details Mary Sheehan Ronan’s journey across the Great Plains, her childhood on the Colorado and Montana mining frontiers, her ascent to young womanhood in Southern California, her return to Montana as a young bride, and her life on the Flathead Indian Reservation as the wife of an Indian agent. Book One, which provides a child’s-eye view of the mining frontier, is available to download as a PDF (Lexile Level 1180L). Classroom sets of Girl from the Gulches can be purchased from the Montana Historical Society Museum Store by calling toll free 1-800-243-9900. 

Butte’s Industrial Landscape is a PowerPoint and script created by Fred Quivik, Professor Emeritus of History, at Michigan Technological University. Originally presented as part of the NEH-funded workshop, "The Richest Hills: Mining in the Far West, 1860-1920," the PowerPoint examines industrial mining's social and environmental impacts, and can be adapted for classroom use, particularly in the upper grades.  

Camp to Capitol: Step into Helena's Past. Tour Helena with this booklet in hand. By comparing the historical photographs contained within to the streetscape today, students can gain an understanding of how Helena grew and an appreciation for the buildings that remain to reflect the community's rich history.

Thinking Like a Historian: Using Digital Newspapers in the Classroom (Designed for 4th-8th). Have students exercise their historical imaginations as while introducing them to the research, the social history of gold-rush era Montana, and the richness of historic newspapers digitized as part of Chronicling America.

The Richest Hills: Mining in the Far West Lesson Plans Teachers participating in an NEH funded workshop created lesson plans using the information, materials, and tools they gained during a weeklong study of Virginia City, Butte, and Helena. The best of these lessons are organized by grade level (from kindergarten through twelfth grade). 

Montana The Magazine of Western History Curriculum Guides (Designed for high school).Montana The Magazine of Western History has put the text of several theme issues on-line along with ideas using the articles. These interdisciplinary lessons include full-text of the articles included in that issue along with discussion questions and suggestions for supplemental activities. Guides are available for the following special issues: