Seattle Stake in Klondike Gold Rush: Lesson 9

Lesson Description:

Part One (Creating a Shopping List -1 hour)

1. Begin with a whole group discussion.

We're all now in a small, sleepy town called Seattle. However, we can tell that Seattle's feeling the Klondike Fever. We've watched the passengers disembark from the Portland with their sacks of gold over their shoulders. We've got to get started! What should we take with us? (Gold! The Klondike Adventure p. 23-25) "Never had shopping lists been so carefully prepared. The hardware stores and grocery counters were booming with business. Goldseekers jammed store aisles in Seattle. At this point you may want to discuss the economic effects of the Klondike Gold Rush on Seattle. Each Klondiker wanted to face the Arctic winds and long journey ahead with the warmest clothes and most nourishing food that money could buy. By the winter of 1897 Canadian Mounties forbade anyone from entering the gold fields without enough supplies to last an entire year. A prospector might spend $500 to buy a year's worth of goods from the Klondike, his load weighed about 2,000 pounds. Many newspapers and guidebooks printed checklists of the exact items needed for a proper outfit, as the miners called their store of provisions."

2. At this point ask students to brainstorm and chart in small groups what they think they'll need to take on their journey. Regroup as a whole class and share results. Teacher creates a class list of ideas as he/she asks students to think about the following guiding questions: What kind of food will last one year? How much food do you need to bring? What will the weather be like? Will you need any tools? Why? Where will we sleep? Is everything necessary and sufficient? Next, share with the students some sample lists (see attachments) to show children what actual Stampeders bought for the adventure.

3. Give each student two different sample shopping lists and a blank list. They will work either alone or with their traveling companion(s) to create a shopping list for supplies. Teacher should circulate around the room at this point to make sure students have thought of all necessary supplies. Students will use shopping lists the following day when they shop for supplies.

Part Two (Shopping for Supplies - 2 hours)

1. Recreate Seattle shops in the classroom and have students shop for supplies. Create 5 different "shop" stations around the classroom (mercantile, hardware, dry goods, cooking ware, provisions), using your posters to designate the different stores. Invite parents to act as shopkeepers. Students will move about the room with their shopping lists in hand as they shop for supplies, so you want to make sure there's plenty of room. Move aside all desks and chairs to create an open space in the center of the room. Hang drawing paper as a backdrop for each "shop" station. Decorate the paper with photocopies of items found at that particular shop. Place a student desk and two chairs at each station. It's also fun to ask parents to dress as if they were shopkeepers at that time in history. Five parents are asked to be shopkeepers while the other two parents roam around the room helping students as the need arises. It's nice to have plenty of help during this activity (especially for students who need help with math). Place several calculators, pencils, and stack of receipts at each station. Parents may need to help students fill-out the receipts. Before the students begin shopping, you may want to gather them to explain the process and go over how to fill-out receipts. Students who finish early can work on calculating how much money they spent in total.


If you don't have parent volunteers or want the students to take a greater role in the shopping experience, you can try the following variation.

3. Have students act as shopkeepers. Arrange a schedule where students each take a 10 minute shift selling the wares in one of the shops. Review basic expectations for the shopkeepers---be courteous to the customers, no special prices for friends, etc. Students tend to take their roles very seriously and look forward to their chance to be the shopkeeper.

To help keep track of the purchases you may want to use the Alternative Receipt Forms or make your own. Make a list of supplies and prices for each store (see attached example). Provide copies of lists to the shoppers. Shoppers can either have the shopkeeper write down the quantities purchased on the list or they can fill out the form themselves.

TEACHER NOTES: We've included articles about businesses that were started because of the Klondike gold rush. The articles provide a great opportunity to discuss how the gold rush impacted the local economy

OBJECTIVE: Students will become more aware of the kind of economic impact the Gold Rush had on Seattle; Students will gain a better understand of what Stampeders took with them to the Klondike; Students will make shopping lists and shop for supplies in the classroom; Students will utilize a variety of mathematical skills.


  1. Sample Shopping List (PDF)
  2. Pens, pencils
  3. Drawing paper
  4. Seattle Post-Intelligencer article , "The Big Haul" (PDF)
  5. Copy of Blank Shopping List (PDF) 1 per student
  6. 100-200 copies of Receipt Form (PDF)
  7. Alternative Receipt Form (PDF), examples if doing variation
  8. An overhead transparency of the receipt, used for demonstration purposes.
  9. Shop posters with list of Items With Prices (PDF)
  10. Sample of items found in outfits ( flour, pans, beans, shovel, hand tools)
  11. Photograph of Stampeders Shopping (PDF)
  12. Student's journals

TIME: Two 1 hour sessions (one day for creating list and another for shopping)

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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