The Red Pony - Ranch Life

Download "Ranch Life" as a Word file (78.5KB)

Discipline

Language Arts, History, Art, Performing Arts

Grade Level

6-12

Type of Activity

Small Group, Individual, Entire Class, Pre-Reading, Research, Writing, Art, Performing Arts

Objectives 

  • Students will understand the nature of ranch life in the 1920s and 1930s.
  • Students will gain an understanding of ranch life in the 1920s/1930s vs. current ranch life.
  • Students will be able to analyze and understand (through discussion and writing) secondary documents.

 Overview

As in all of Steinbeck’s books, setting is very important and always plays an integral role in the understanding of his novels, and The Red Pony is no exception. The ranch in The Red Pony is important and functions almost as a character would.

Understanding ranch life in the 1920s/1930s and the ranch experience from that period, and today, are both essential for understanding the novel. This topic should be not only informative but entertaining for the students.

Materials Needed/Preparation 

  • Copies of The Red Pony.
  • For a photo introduction to the setting of The Red Pony, refer to this photo essay.
  • Article about life on West Coast Vandevert Ranch in the 1930s.
  • “Growing up on the Steinbeck and Hamilton Ranches in the 1920s and 1930s”—An Interview with Thomas Steinbeck. “The Ranching Life.” (download copy)
  • LCD projector or interactive white board (to show the Internet articles—or use photocopies).
  • Markers and large construction paper for posters. 
  • Copies of the "Ranch Life" handout (optional)

Estimated Time 

  • Up to 2 periods to discuss the articles in “Materials Needed/Preparation.” Teachers should assign the articles below and the above Internet articles (one about ranches in the 1920s/1930s one about modern ranch life).
  • 1–2 class periods for skit preparation and presentation. (See “Procedures” below.)
  • 1 class period for the creation of posters.

Procedures

This exercise can be streamlined depending on the size of the class, time allotment, and maturity level. For example, it is not necessary to create both skits and posters. 

  • Before reading The Red Pony, students should understand the context of life on a rural ranch in the 1920s/1930s. Setting is important in all of Steinbeck’s books, and students should break into small groups to write a brief skit (dressing up in costume if they wish) of what they think life on a rural ranch in 1920s/1930s Salinas Valley would be like. Be sure they have no preconceived notions of what ranch life would be like. This should lead to a class discussion.
  • Have student groups write a brief skit about ranch life in the 1920s/1930s and then perform for the class.
  • Have students read the two articles in “Additional Information” (taken from the Steinbeck Young Authors’ Curriculum GuideThe Red Pony). The reading can be done entirely in class, or partially, and then finished as homework.
  • Have students complete the worksheet (found after the two articles) as homework and discuss in class the next day.
  • Have the students discuss the differences between ranches in the 1920s/1930s and today’s rural ranches.
  • Have students write a short paper comparing/contrasting modern ranch life and ranch life in the 1920s/1930s.
  • In small groups, have students create posters detailing the benefits of 1920s/1930s ranches and current ones.
  • Have students read the two Internet articles—see “Materials Needed/Preparation.” 

Post Activity/Takeaways/Follow-up

  • Post Activity
    • Have student groups hang their posters around the classroom and answer questions of other groups.
  • Follow-up
    • Have students write an evaluation of the project and what they have learned.
    • In groups, have students summarize ranch life in the 1920s/1930s and now. Other students will take notes.

Assessment 

Teachers can give brief quizzes on ranch life to ensure students have a basic understanding of the ranch setting in The Red Pony and in more current times.

California State Content Standards Met

  • Performing Arts: Theatre Content Standards 6-12
    • Artistic Perception: 1
    • Creative Expression: 2
    • Historical and Cultural Context: 3
    • Connections, Relationships, Applications: 5

Common Core State Standards Met

  • Reading Standards for Literature 6-12
    • Key Ideas and Details: 1, 2
    • Craft and Structure: 4, 5, 6
    • Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity: 10
  • Reading Standards for Informational Text 6-12
    • Key Ideas and Details: 1, 2, 3
    • Craft and Structure: 4, 5, 6
    • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: 8, 9
    • Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity: 10
  • Writing Standards 6-12
    • Text Types and Purposes: 1, 2, 3
    • Production and Distribution of Writing: 4, 5
    • Research to Build and Present Knowledge: 7, 8
    • Range of Writing: 10
  • Speaking and Listening Standards 6-12
    • Comprehension and Collaboration: 1, 2
  • Language Standards 6-12
    • Conventions of Standard English: 1, 2
    • Knowledge of Language: 3
    • Vocabulary Acquisition and Use: 4, 5, 6
  • Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies 6-12
    • Key Ideas and Details: 1, 2
    • Craft and Structure: 4, 5, 6
    • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: 8
    • Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity: 10
  • Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects 6-12
    • Text Types and Purposes: 1, 2
    • Production and Distribution of Writing: 4, 5
    • Research to Build and Present Knowledge: 7, 9
    • Range of Writing: 10