Golden Opportunity

The Gold Rush Experience As my fourth grader learns California history, my family learns about our state with him. We’ve visited various missions and talked about what brought people into this part of the nation, but no visit would equal the experience and multiple subject learning that the people at Frontier Events put on. We were part of a rather large group of home schoolers (200), gathered on a cool Friday morning after a long drive out of the cities of Orange County into the mountains of San Bernardino County. Riley’s Farm was transformed from an ordinary apple orchard to an 1850’s gold mining town. As we entered, the costumed attendants greeted us and got us hiking up a hill to get to the Assayers office. Here we were given the rules of the day before setting off to find our treasures and strike it rich! We headed first to the gold mine and after we got through the dark tunnel we landed in… dirt! So we dug with our bare hands as we had no money to get ourselves any tools. Credit was not an option. <

20110503-110832.jpgWe found no gold here, and it was dark and claustrophobic, so we left to go to the gold fields from where we heard cheers and exuberant shouts. This gave us an idea of how other people’s discoveries got one excited and more resolute to carry on despite the toils and troubles he faced. We never did return to the gold mine because someone who found gold before us bought the deed to the land and the mine, and was now charging an entrance fee to anyone who entered, and collected a part from any gold found in their mine! We did get lucky in the gold fields as we found a few dirt covered pieces of gold. When we came with our gold to the Assayers office “back in town”, we saw a huge line of people waiting to trade in their riches. br />
20110503-110445.jpgWe decided to go look for more and come back later when the lines grow shorter. I know, some of you are saying, “wrong move”, and you’re right, but we didn’t think of it at the time. We traded gold for shovels and pans, cleaned homes and did laundry for money, dug through more dirt and panned and panned for gold, but all we got was a handful of little nuggets. Little did we reason that in a market economy, the price fluctuates based on demand. Gold, which was at one point, $3,000 an ounce, dropped to $25 an ounce when we came around to sell. Some smart kids walked around buying gold from others at this time and saved it for when the price went up again. We cashed in at $300, collectively. Pretty sad sum for a family of 4 kids and a mom, who is apparently not very economically savvy! Yeah, we did not hear the end of it from Baba when we got />
20110503-111027.jpg Especially when some families could trade in their earnings for farm grown, hand dipped caramel apples at the end of the day and we had to buy ours on the way out from the gift store with real money. Overall, the experience gave the kids the feel for how difficult life was during the gold rush era. We saw first hand how not everyone stuck it rich, but how others’ success drove us to dig a little more, or walk a little farther or try a little harder. We also learned how it wasn’t always those digging that made the money. Those smart enough to realize the needs of the people and supply things (such as water bottles on a hot day or shovels to those who were digging by hand) made their riches as well. We saw how older kids made money not by digging in a mine or a field but by standing outside the Assayer’s office, figuring out his schedule of demand and buying gold off the hands of enthusiastic sellers to go back in and resell at a time when the price got higher! History, economics, language, exercise, nutrition, and math all culminated in an open space classroom where we learned more than any book could have taught us. Though this field trip was hosted by trained actors who do this daily, we can recreate, on a smaller scale, the same experience for our kids. Paint a few rocks golden and hide them in your backyard. Have your kids and their friends find them and sell them to you for a fair market value based on supply and demand. Make a miner’s menu of cornbread, beans, cheese and fruit to get a taste of the times. Have some kids work chores for money but most of all don’t forget to have them teach each other the important lessons of the day. Sounds like a great party idea to me!<

About Soulful Studies

Home schooling consultant, home educator and mother of 4, blogger
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5 Responses to Golden Opportunity

  1. Um Sumayyah says:

    what an awesome experience, ma sha’ Allah! (I hope you’re keeping a list of all these resources!) 😉

  2. AYSHA fahim says:

    Sounds great. Good to know that you have met a bunch of homeschoolers there.
    Kids love to learn through hands on experiences.

  3. Munira Shamim says:

    What an enriching experience. How can I find a homeschooling group near me here in the south Bay (Santa Clara, Cupertino, etc.)?

    • Munira,
      Sorry for the delay in replying. Do check out the website for a listing in your area. Another good resource is and
      Local libraries are a great resource as well. You are bound to run into s fellow homeschooler or a librarian who knows other local homeschooling families’ library schedule:)
      Good luck and don’t forget to check on Bammoms!

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