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On the Pampas   Author

On the Pampas


Author:  María Cristina Brusca
ISBN: 0805029192
Summary:  “An account of a little girl’s idyllic summer at her grandparents’ ranch on the pampas of Argentina.”

Lessons written by Debbie Palmer 


Social Studies


Since this book is set in Argentina you could do a map showing the area of the Pampas and the location of Buenos Aires (the capital of Argentina).  I have included a South American map in case you would like your child to label the countries that are near Argentina.
South America Outline Map
Argentina Outline Map

Flag of Argentina Minit Book

Also if you have the book Draw Write Now Book 8 on pg 61 there are instructions for your child to draw his or her own map of South America.

You could also have your child color the Argentine flag.  There are two versions of the flag…one with the sun (for special or official occasions and events) and one without the sun.


Gauchos are the equivalent of the cowboy in South America (Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil).  Through reading On the Pampas you will find out more about their lifestyle.  They are famous for their loose fitting pants (bombachas) and belts that are normally decorated with silver coins.  They use a facón (gaucho knife), rebenque (wide horse whip), and boleadoras.  Some traditional foods/drinks include asado (barbeque) and mate (a bitter tea).  Asado and mate are also traditional among the general Argentina population.  All these items are on the first two pages of the book.  There is also a pronunciation guide for each word.


Gauchos wear belts with coins from all over the world.  If your child has an interest you could check out books from the library to see how coins look from different countries.


Language Arts


New vocabulary in Spanish is listed on the first two pages with a pronunciation guide and explanations.  Here are a few words that are not explained:

Carbonada-a thick stew


Zamba-Argentine dance (also popular in other countries in South America)


List making
Have your child make a list of all the activities that take place on the estancia.


This story is autobiographical.  These events really happened in the author’s life. You might explain what an autobiography is and you could also help your child write his own autobiography.  For an older child this might also be an opportunity to discuss the roots of words and where words come from.  For example the word “autobiography” is composed of three Greek roots…”autos” meaning self, “bios” meaning life and “graph” meaning to write.  So we come up with a word that means “life story written by oneself”.




Brusca used watercolors.  You might want to have your students experiment with watercolors to recreate some of the scenes in the book.  One neat picture might be to recreate the effect of a sunrise like Brusca did on one of the last pages of the book.  Her colors go from light pink (near the horizon) to a deep blue.


Gaucho Belts
Use the template of the Gaucho belt.  Have you child color it and then take small round pieces of aluminum foil (representing the coins) to
decorate it.  See the link for the Gaucho belt.



Counting head and multiplying
Cowboys normally count cattle by “heads”.  For example: “I have 100 head of cattle.” Have your younger student count cattle. There is one picture in the middle of the book where there are many heads to count!)  For an older student who can multiply have them figure out if you have 20 head of cattle how many legs would there be? How many eyes?




Southern Constellations
The constellations in the Northern Hemisphere are different from the ones in the Southern Hemisphere.  The Southern Cross is mentioned in the book and is a southern constellation. Since there is no pole star (like the North Star in the Northern Hemisphere) some of the stars in the Southern Cross are used to find south when navigating.  The Southern Cross has five stars.  Four of them are brighter than the last one.  The four main stars are in a kite formation.  The Southern Cross appears in many flags of countries located in the Southern Hemisphere.


New Zealand

Papua New Guinea

It also appears in two provincial flags of Argentina…

Santa Cruz 

Tierra del Fuego l


The rhea (or ñandú in Spanish) is the South American ostrich and the largest bird of South America.  They live in eastern South America from Brazil to Uruguay and into Argentina.  It is a flightless bird.  They are smaller than the African ostrich and have three toes on each foot instead of two.  Unlike ostriches, a rhea’s head and neck are covered in feathers.  The males are the ones who incubate the eggs and take care of the young.  If you have the book Draw Write Now Book 8, you could use this as an example of how to draw a rhea (even though it is an ostrich).  But remember to give it feathers on its head and neck!  Also there is an excellent picture of a rhea in the book that your student could use.




Brusca was unsure of herself as she learned to be a “gaucha”.  But she didn’t give up or become lazy about striving to perfect her skills. At the end of the book everyone on the estancia honored her with a gaucho belt and a horse!  Proverbs 22:29 speaks about when we excel in our work there will be honor. Colossians 3:23-24 would also be great verses to go over.


Snack/Cooking Ideas


-A cute and super easy snack idea would be to buy some of the foil wrapped chocolate coins from around the world in honor of gaucho belts!

-Make Grandma’s birthday cake!  Use a basic two layer (or three layers like from the book) white or yellow cake.  Put whipped cream and cut up peaches between the layers.  Frost the top with more whipped cream.  Make sure you refrigerate leftovers.