Performing Arts as a Culminating Activity for Bent's Fort.

Grade Level:
Upper Elementary: Third Grade through Fifth Grade
Literacy and Language Arts,Social Studies
Common Core Standards:
4.L.1.f, 4.L.3, 4.L.3.a, 4.L.4.c
State Standards:
• History, Civics
• Reading, Writing and composition, Research and reasoning
• Performing arts- Create, perform, Critically respond

This activity was inspired by: Teaching Channel - Greek Mythology Project

Primary Sources of people who visited Bents Fort:

  • Magoffin, Susan Shelby. Down the Santa Fé trail and into México: the diary of Susan Shelby Magoffin, 1846-1847. Vol. 3. U of Nebraska Press, 1962 (might appeal to girls) (written by an 18 year old woman)
  • Garrard, Lewis. Wah-to-yah and the Taos Trail. Applewood Books, 2010. (written by 17 year old man)
  • Carson, Kit. Kit Carson's autobiography. Vol. 325. U of Nebraska Press, 1966. (Kit Carson did not know how to write so his friend wrote for him)
  • Field, Matthew C. Matt Field on the Santa Fe Trail. Vol. 29. University of Oklahoma Press, 1995. (Matt Field was a poet.)
  • Abert, lt. James, Expedition to the southwest, Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska press, 1999.
  • Bent, George, the life of George Bent, Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1968 (William Bent and Owl Woman’s son)
  • Ruxton, George Frederick Augustus. Life in the Far West. Vol. 14. University of Oklahoma Press, 1951.
    or Ruxton, George Frederick Augustus. Adventures in Mexico and the Rocky Mountains. Vol. 36. John Murray, 1847. You can find both books free online.
  • Parkman, Francis, and Bernard Rosenthal. The Oregon Trail. Oxford University Press, USA, 2000.

4th grade reading level Secondary sources and historical fiction

  • Secondary Source: Dexter, Sandy. Owl Woman: her life with William Bent. Canon City, CO: Wolf River Productions, 2008.
  • Fictional: Finley, Mary Peace. Little Fox's Secret: The Mystery of Bent's Fort. Palmer Lake, Colorado: Filter Press, 2000

Options to research and perform:

1. Students perform a report on a person who visited Bents Fort 

  • Students pick a historical character to report on, you provide the list.
  • Students research the character.
  • Provide students with passages (primary sources) the character wrote about Bents Fort.
  • Students write a two page report on the character, either first person or third person.
  • Students talk about their character in front of the whole class, they could read their report.
  • Work with Bent’s Old Fort if you would like to arrange a time for students to perform their reports at the fort.

2. Performing a scene from Susan’s journal

  • Read Susan’s journal to the class, one chapter at a time. Students take notes of their interests.
  • Have the students choose a situation from the book and write a scene about it.
  • Have students act out the scene.
  • Discuss what the characters feel during the situation. Do you think Susan is giving us the whole story by presenting her perspective of events

3. Students develop a historical fiction skit relating to the characters, or make up fictional character, at Bents Fort.

Annual Programs at Bent's Fort Related to Lesson:

  • Kids Quarters: Children, ages 7 to 11, are invited to “step back in time” and experience the life of a trapper-hunter, journalist, domestic cook, laborer, carpenter, blacksmith, soldier or trader. Hands-on activities focus on the work of the 1840s at a fur trading post. 
  • Frontier Skills Day - Pre-registered participants experience the work of a trader, trapper-hunter, blacksmith, carpenter, domestic or laborer. Park staff and volunteers provide instruction in 19th century work skills commonly performed at the fort in the 1840s. For participants under 18 years old, an adult is required to attend. 

Check Bent's Old Fort NHS Calendar for upcoming events. 


Last updated: January 5, 2017