Travel the Oregon Trail

Time: Two 60 Minute Sessions

Grades: 4-12

Students will learn what it was like to travel the Oregon Trail by playing an immersive game. They will pack their wagons, 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 and various animal biofacts.

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In School Activity - Five Big Questions of the Oregon Trail: 10-60 Minutes

Your students’ journey to Oregon begins in your classroom. First, your students will watch a short video (shown below) about the Five Big Questions of the Oregon Trail. They'll learn what the Oregon Trail was, when it happened, why immigrants faced such a dangerous journey, where they settled, and who were these immigrants. This video should be watched before the next activity. 

The first activity in the box at the bottom of this page (named "Section 1: The Five Big Questions") has a crossword puzzle to reinforce the content from the video. The second file (named "Section 2: Why Would You Travel the Trails") is a writing prompt you can use to have your students think about why they would undergo such a dangerous journey. While your students must watch the video below, you do not have to complete the crossword puzzle or writing activity; they are just here for you to use as you see fit.  




In School Activity - Pack Your Wagon: 60-90 Minutes

Next, they will work in small groups to pack their own wagon to head west. For this activity, you'll need the documents labeled "Section 4" and "Section 5". 

  • Section 4 includes a guidebook 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. There is also a vocabulary sheet included, if you would like your students to use it. 
  • Section 5 has two items within it. First, there 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. This section also has 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 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. Give our Curator of Education a call to reserve the cards at 307-286-8627.

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

This activity must be completed before your field trip. 


Virtual Field Trip: Two 60 Minute Sessions

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!

This virtual field trip is unique, as it requires two separate virtual field trip sessions. When you request your field trip, the website will let you pick two different sessions that fit within your calendar. 

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



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