Treasure Chest
Downriver and River Thunder
DownRiver River Thunder

Belknap's Waterproof Grand Canyon River Guide. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. This is the actual river guide from the stories, and is filled with fascinating canyon history, geology, names and ratings of each rapid, camps, and more. It's called The Colorado River in Grand Canyon by Larry Stevens. Have your bookstore order it for you, or you can call the Grand Canyon Association bookstore at 1-800-858-2808 and order by phone. There are also newer versions.

DVD/Video: Narrated by Richard Chamberlain, this is the most splendid video about the Grand Canyon. Ride the rapids and learn about natural history, geology and human history of the Grand Canyon. It's called River Song and is distributed by the Grand Canyon Association. Order online. This website is also a gold mine of resources for educators.

The Trails Illustrated topographic map of the Weminuche Wilderness mentioned in connection with Bearstone and Beardance would be great with these books. Look for Storm King Peak in the Needles section of the topo map of the wilderness area. It's close to the confluence of Trinity Creek and Vallecito Creek. Also, the AAA map “Indian Country,” available from your local AAA store would help in following the characters' progress from Silverton, Colorado, through Bluff, Utah, to their Grand Canyon launch at Lee's Ferry, Arizona, fifteen miles below Glen Canyon Dam (Lake Powell.)

If you're looking for a few great reference books about Grand Canyon, I'd suggest Down the Colorado by John Wesley Powell, (Powell's diary of the first trip through the Grand Canyon, in 1869) and River Runners of the Grand Canyon by David Lavender, published by Grand Canyon Natural History Association. Tales and photos of early river runners.


bullet River log: Ask students to choose one character in the story (besides Jessie) and keep a diary from that character's point of view. Compare how different characters are seeing the same major events and relationships.
bullet Map study: Get the waterproof mile-by-mile river map mentioned earlier, photocopy each page and mount the pages along the wall of the classroom, connecting them in order. They show the actual path and shape of the river this way, and you can have kids make rafts to move along the map to track the progress of the kids in the story.
bullet Lake Powell is a huge reservoir near Page, Arizona, created by Glen Canyon Dam. Below the dam, water is released back into the Colorado River and Grand Canyon. Study why this dam was built, and what its effects have been on the Grand Canyon environment. River Thunder was inspired by the 1983 high water threat to the dam, and the resulting flood in Grand Canyon below.
bullet Design big murals as art projects, showing the Grand Canyon, plants, animals, river rapids, side canyons, etc. Combine with study of John Wesley Powell's first exploration of the canyon in 1869, and with geology study.
bullet First aid: What should you know in a wilderness situation to handle various injuries, for example, cuts, broken bones, bee sting, hypothermia, etc.?
Bullet Wilderness math: Plan food quantities, menus, grocery lists, estimate costs for a ten-day camping trip for eight people. Maybe start out planning a shorter trip!
Bullet Visit an outdoor education program in your area. See if they offer a day program that would work for a field trip.
Resources and Ideas for Teaching Will's Novels
Bearstone and
The Big Wander
Changes in Latitudes
Crossing the Wire
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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