Printable recipe for Ugly Apples Applesauce, like Tie Sing made here.
The following teacher’s guide is available in a formatted, full-color format here.
Common Core Linked Teacher’s Guide for
Mountain Chef: How One Man Lost His Groceries, Changed His Plans, and Helped Cook up the National Park Service
Charlesbridge Publishing: 2016
America’s national parks were dreamed up by famous visionaries like John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt, but the parks we know and love today are also indebted to everyday people, largely unremembered, who used their talents to help preserve the wilderness. Mountain Chef tells the story of how Tie Sing, a Chinese American trail chef, helped convince opinion-makers to lobby Congress for the creation of the National Park Service.
The words, by Annette Bay Pimentel, are based on archival research, and the luminous watercolor paintings, by Rich Lo, are informed by photos taken on the 1915 trip. The back matter includes information about Chinese American life in the West in the early years of the twentieth century, details about the camping trip, short biographies of the campers, and historic photos. The endpapers feature a map of the route of the camping trip.
Suggested Learning Activities
LANGUAGE ARTS ACTIVITIES
Vocabulary that may be new to students: newfangled, mulled, kindling, sourdough, lupine, ravenous. Allow students to guess at the meaning from context. Discuss with students other strategies to learn the meaning of an unfamiliar word. (RL 4.4; RI 4.4; RF 4.4; L 4.4)
Vivid writing uses sensory-rich descriptions. Examine the photo on page 38. Imagine yourself in the scene. Brainstorm a list of sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures you might have experienced. Pretending to be one of the campers, write a journal entry about the dinner, using many of the sensory-rich descriptions from your list. (R.L 3.7; W 4.2B, W 4.3D)
Tie Sing was Chinese American. Invite students to find evidence in the text and pictures that Tie Sing was bilingual and bicultural (for example, he grew up speaking both Chinese and English; he wore a queue; he wrote fortunes in both languages). Invite students to interview bilingual staff members or students about their experiences moving between two languages. Create a classroom book of memories or a classroom video where students either write or retell the anecdotes they heard in the interviews. (RL 4.2; RI 4.2, 4.8; W 4.3, 4.7; SL 4.1C)
Point of view is important to consider when analyzing texts. Whose story is being told? How does it affect your understanding of other stories? Students can compare and contrast the priorities and experiences of others involved in founding the National Park Service by comparing Mountain Chef to The Camping Trip that Changed America by Barbara Rosenstock, and to John Muir Wrestles a Waterfall by Julie Danneberg. Use a Venn diagram to compare and contrast themes in the books. (RL 4.6, 4.9; RI 4.3, 4.9; W 4.9; SL 4.3, 4.4)
SOCIAL STUDIES ACTIVITIES
Tie Sing faced discrimination throughout his life but nonetheless managed to carve out a remarkable career. Research biographies of other individuals who faced discrimination but found a way to succeed in their chosen fields. You might invite students to read picture book biographies like Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story; Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story; Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton, and Stand Straight, Ella Kate. Have children report on the people they researched, using Power Point or other technology. (RI 4.1, 4.3, 4.9; W 4.7; SL 4.4, 4.5, 4.6)
When Tie Sing’s apples got bruised, he found a way to use them instead of throwing them out. Have students research the problems of food waste. Challenge them to develop a campaign to reduce food waste in their school, homes, or community. They may choose to write letters-to-the-editors, create posters, or videotape short commercials. (RI 4.3, 4.7, 4.9; W 4.1, 4.2, 4.4, 4.6, 4.7, 4.8, 4.9; SL 4.4, 4.5; NGSS4-ESS3.A)
Explore a National Park website or interview a National Park ranger to learn about the history of a nearby national park. Encourage students to find out about the individuals who played a role in creating the park, in building structures within the park, such as roads and buildings, and in administering the park. Have students present what they have learned. (RI 4.3, 4.7, 4.9; W 4.1, 4.2, 4.4, 4.6, 4.7, 4.8, 4.9; SL 4.4, 4.5)
SCIENCE AND MATH ACTIVITIES
Tie Sing was an expert at cooking for large groups of people. Take a recipe that feeds a family and convert it to feed a large group, like the one that Tie Sing cooked for. If the measurements involve fractions, be sure the fractions are reduced to simplest form. (MC4.OA.A3; MC 4.NF.B.4)
To keep meat cool on the trail, Tie Sing used the principle of evaporation. He wrapped meat in wet newspaper. As the water evaporated, the meat stayed cool. Experiment by wrapping one ice cube in wet newspaper and leaving another ice cube unwrapped. How much longer does the ice cube cooled by evaporation last before it’s fully melted? Have the students design a wet newspaper cooler to keep a piece of fruit cool. (NGSS3-MS-PS3-3; NGSS 3-53-5-ETS1.1,2,3)
Tie Sing was famous for his sourdough rolls. Sourdough is made from captured wild yeasts. Explore the process of raising a start of yeast with commercial yeast. Examine different variables, such as the temperature of the water or the addition of sugar to the water, and figure out which environments best promote the growth of yeast. (NGSS 3-LS1)