A FREE Unit Study on The Dragon’s Gate by Lawrence Yep (A Sonlight curriculum recommended reading), great for your middle or high school homeschool students!

So many things that we take for granted are discussed in this book, from our freedom to the railroads that now seem like ancient forms of transportation.  Young readers will be engrossed in the tale of Otter, a 14-year-old Chinese boy, and what he experiences. He travels from China to California, and being a stranger in a new land, he has a purpose to free his country from invaders by learning as much as he can. When he boards a machine, his life changes dramatically.

This book is recommended for the late middle schooler through early high school but can be enjoyed by the adult homeschool teacher as well.  When we can see history through the eyes of a person who, “lived it,” even in the realm of historical fiction, it is all the more interesting.

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Free Homeschooling Resources to Help Teach The Dragon’s Gate


Study guides for the book

Vocabulary Flashcards

Setting & Background Information

What is the Golden Mountain that Otter wants to see?

Otter came from Kwangtung, now known as Guangdong, where is this?

What is the Transcontinental Railroad?

Videos of the Transcontinental Railroad:

What did trains look like in Otter’s time?

8 things you may not know about trains

Who worked on the Transcontinental Railroad?


What was life like for a Chinese immigrant?

Who were the Manchu that Otter wants to rid China of?

Otter wants to get rid of the Opium trade in China, what was this all about?

How did China get rid of the Opium problem?


Did you like The Dragon’s Gate?

Here are a few more recommended reads for your homeschooler once they’ve finished the book: The Serpent’s Children (1984) and Mountain Light (1985).


Once you’ve finished The Dragon’s Gate – or while you’re reading it – try some of these free printables, videos, and other homeschool resources to go along with the book. Know of any more? Please leave a comment!