Treasure Chest
Bearstone & Beardance
Bearstone Beardance

Topographic map of the Weminuche Wilderness, the setting of both novels: Trails Illustrated Maps. Order map #140, Colorado Weminuche Wilderness. Phone 1-800-962-1643. Follow Cloyd and Walter up the Pine River (Los Pinos on the map), Snowslide Canyon, Rincon La Osa, the Rio Grande Pyramid and the Window. Work on reading distances, contour lines, etc.

AAA road map called “Indian Country,” which includes most locations from the stories, as well as locations for Downriver, River Thunder, The Maze, and The Big Wander. Ask your local AAA or order from: AAA, 1000 AAA Drive, Heathrow, FL 32746-5063. Look for White Mesa, Utah, where Cloyd is from, Durango, CO, etc.


bullet I've written a picture book called Beardream, exploring through a young boy's experience how the ancient Utes learned the beardance from the bears. It's illustrated with stunning oil paintings by Jill Kastner, and is an excellent companion to the novels.
bullet Two books you might order: People of the Shining Mountains by Charles Marsh, or Utes, The Mountain People by Jan Pettit.
bullet Clay fetishes: Kids can make their own clay fetishes, like Cloyd's bearstone. Have them select an animal they feel kinship with, then discuss those choices. These can be painted or made into necklaces. I've seen fetishes carved from blue soap too.
bullet Double entry diary: A great activity for studying point of view. Using side-by-side diaries written from two characters' points of view, describe key incidents in the story. Each entry is written first person, showing how two different people (Cloyd and Walter) are seeing the same incidents.
bullet Name the chapters: This is a painless way to get at “main idea.” Give a title to each chapter in the story. This is great to work on in small groups, for the discussion.
bullet Grizzly bears: A wealth of material exists about grizzlies and their loss of habitat. Use both of these novels in connection with your study of endangered species.
Resources and Ideas for Teaching Will's Novels
The Big Wander
Changes in Latitudes
Crossing the Wire
Downriver and
River Thunder
Far North
Ghost Canoe
Go Big or Go Home
Jackie's Wild Seattle
Jason's Gold and
Down the Yukon
Kokopelli's Flute
Leaving Protection
The Maze
Never Say Die
Take Me to the River
Wild Man Island
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