Travel the Oregon Trail

Time: 2 Hours (Can Be Shortened)

Grades: 4-12

 

Students will learn what it was like to travel the Oregon Trail by playing an immersive game. They will pack their own wagon, learn about major trail landmarks, frequent dangers, and other difficulties of the journey. Their wagons will determine whether they get to Oregon alive or not. Students will see many phenomenal human artifacts from the 1800s along with various animal biofacts.   

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Travel the Oregon Trail:

While most of our on-grounds programs include an engaging educational lesson, hands-on animal biofact interaction, a fun activity, a specially themed scavenger hunt, and time for open exploration of the museum. The Travel the Oregon Trail program is a bit different. First, your students will complete an activity, in school, before they ever come to the museum. Once they are here, we will combine the museum activity and the lesson into one immersive game that allows your students to learn while they play a live Oregon Trail game! Read below to learn more out this amazing program.

 

In School Activity: 30-60 Minutes

Your students’ journey to Oregon begins in your classroom. They will work in small groups to pack their own wagon to head west. Teachers can download the “Pack Your Wagon” activity from this page. This activity includes three items. First, it has a guide book for your students to learn what to pack on their trip. This guide was written by the museum, and is based on three original texts from the 1840s-1860s. The next item included in this activity is a series of “cards”. These cards show students what is available at the General Store. Each card has a small bit of information about one item, why it was important to immigrants, and how much it weighs. There are two versions of these cards; one can be printed as full-pages and the other can be printed and cut out as actual cards. The last part of the activity is a worksheet for your student groups to fill out. This is where they will actual pack their wagon, do some math on its weight, and answer some questions.

The museum also offers actual cards and guide books that teachers from the Wyoming area can borrow for free! So, instead of printing and cutting out the cards, you can just swing by the museum and pick up high quality, physical cards and books! These are provided free of charge, but must be returned to the museum when your group joins us for your program.

Whether you borrow or decks or download them… all of the information in this activity was painstakingly compiled from many different sources to be historically accurate!

 

Educational Lesson and Activity: 90 Minutes

Your journey will continue during your field trip. We will begin your program by talking a little about the Oregon Trail… to set the stage for our trip west. After that, we will set out from Independence. This program is designed as an interactive game. Your students will learn about major landmarks such as Independence Rock, Fort Laramie, and other vital stops along the trail. They will also learn about many of the hardships that pioneers faced on the trek. Your students will encounter wild animals, hunting opportunities, disease, accidents, and more. We will utilize dice rolls to determine whether your students survive each of these dangers. The items your students chose to pack will also be incredibly important for their continental crossing. With a little luck, most of your students will make it to Oregon City. 

On our journey west, we will see many different human artifacts from this time period… along with some animal biofacts. Your students will see everything from christening gowns that are more than 150 years old, to a saw that used to amputate limbs on the frontier, to bear pelts, to hardtack, to pots and pans, to pioneer guns, and more! This program is sure to please teachers and students alike!

So, load up the wagons… we’re heading to Oregon! Request this immersive program for your students today!

 

Open Museum Exploration: 30 Minutes

While the program will give your students a wonderful view into what it was like to travel the Oregon Trail, our museum contains much more than just that! The open museum exploration time allows your students to explore whatever they are interested in. The Wyoming State Museum has so many topics (from dinosaurs to mining to pioneers to warfare to animals to Native American culture to national parks and more), that we want to make sure to give students free time at the end of the program to explore.

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