Travel the Oregon Trail

Time: 60 Minutes or 90 Minutes

Grades: 4-12

 

Your 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. We will see many phenomenal human artifacts from the 1800s, along with various animal biofacts.

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Travel the Oregon Trail:

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. Teachers from the Wyoming area can also come by the museum to borrow specially printed guide books and actual cards for this activity. These are provided free of charge, but must be returned to the museum.

 Your journey will continue during your virtual 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. 

This program can be taught in a few different ways. The full program is designed to last an hour and a half. This is the how long it takes to discuss every major landmark from Independence to Oregon City, explore the most common dangers, and talk a bit about the trail. If you want the full program, we can either do it in one sitting or break it into two 45-minute programs. Additionally, we can do an abbreviated program in one hour. This will leave out some content, but is still a very fun program. You can decide which of these three options you prefer. 

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

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