Where in California is Amelia?

A Geography Activity to Accompany Amelia’s Road by Linda Jacobs Altman.

Amelia Luisa Martinez and her family are migrant farm workers. There are many families like Amelia’s in California pruning, spraying, and harvesting the wide range of agricultural crops that grow in this state. Learn about the regions of the state where different crops grow and see how they are produced with the help of many families like Amelia’s.

Time: 2-3 hours

Classroom set or overhead projections of:

Internet sites:

History Social Science Content Standards:

  • 4.1 Students demonstrate an understanding of the physical and human geographic features that define places and regions in California.
  • 3. Identify … and describe the various regions of California, including how their
    characteristics and physical environments (e.g., water, landforms, vegetation, climate) affect human activity.
  • 5. Use maps, charts, and pictures to describe how communities in California vary in land use, vegetation, wildlife, climate, population density, architecture, services, and transportation.

History Social Science Analysis Skills:
Chronological and Spatial Thinking

  • 4. Students use map and globe skills to determine the absolute locations of places and
    interpret information available through a map’s or globe’s legend, scale, and symbolic

Historical Interpretation

  • 2. Students identify the human and physical characteristics of the places they are
    studying and explain how those features form the unique character of those places.
  • 4. Students conduct cost benefit analyses of historical and current events.

Language Arts Standards:

  • 1.0. WRITING STRATEGIES: Students write clear, coherent sentences and paragraphs that develop a central idea. Their writing shows they consider the audience and purpose. Students progress through the stages of the writing process. (e.g., prewriting, drafting, revising, editing successive versions)
  • 1.3 Use traditional structures for conveying information (e.g., chronological order, cause and effect, similarity and difference, and posing and answering a question).
  • 2.0. WRITING APPLICATIONS (GENRES AND THEIR CHARACTERISTICS): Students write compositions that describe and explain familiar objects, events, and experiences. Student writing
    demonstrates a command of standard American English and the drafting, research and organizational strategies outlined in Writing Standard 1.0.
  • 2.1 Write narratives on incidents that:
    • Relate ideas, observations, or recollections of an event or experience.
    • Provide a context to enable the reader to imagine the world of the event or experience.
    • Use concrete sensory details.
  • 2.2 Write responses to literature:
    • Demonstrate an understanding of the literary work.


Map activities:
Read the book Amelia’s Road together as a class. If possible, duplicate enough maps so that each group of three has one copy of the “Using Maps to Interpret Amelia’s Road” handout sheet, and one copy of each map. After the students have completed the worksheet, use the overhead with a transparency of the two maps and go over the answers to the questions on the handout as a class.

Map Resorces:

Packing for Travel:
Students who have lived in the same place for a long time will have a difficult time relating to the limits on the belongings that a person would be able to carry with them if they frequently moved from place to place by car. To build empathy, have students try to put themselves in the place of Amelia by thinking about the limited number of things that they would be able to take with them. This is a great time to discuss the economic concepts of scarcity and how people must provide for their needs before their wants. Distribute the “Packing for Travel” worksheet and have students think about the choices they would make.

Relating the topic to others in history:
The choices that Amelia had to make for what to bring and how to adjust to new places has been the life of many people in other times and places. Share some of those examples with the students:

  • Native Peoples such as the Serrano or the Plains Indians who migrated with the seasons
  • Sailors who have manned ships throughout history
  • Immigrants who came to America from Asia, Mexico or Europe
  • Pioneers who traveled West in wagon trains
  • Modern day truckers who transport goods across the world

Is your classroom wired for the Internet?

Try this on-line extension as a Language Arts activity.
Virtual Tour of California Vegetable Production Regions: http://vric.ucdavis.edu/virtour/tour.htm

For each one of the regions identified in the above questions, select the number on the map. Examine the pictures in the Virtual Tour of that region. Copy one or two of the pictures from each region and paste them into a word processing document. Have students create an Amelia’s Road Book II using the pictures and composing their own story to go with them. Stories should reflect the geography of the region accurately and portray the lives of the migrant workers accurately. Students should also use the appropriate writing applications for the Grade 4 California Language Arts Standards. To add drama to the story student authors might have something go wrong and then have the main character find a solution.

Here is an example of a page:

Today we worked in the tomato fields near Fresno. The sun was very hot on our backs. A giant tomato worm crawled up my arm.