- Locate and post a large U.S. map, illustrated with the
historical Oregon Trail in your classroom... the General
Store provides suggested resources for finding authentic maps with
landmarks. Such maps provide an opportunity for students to locate and
discuss their simulated Travels.
- You can design and post a display of "wagons"
with pioneer family names to post along with the classroom map on your
- Prepare a place on your bulletin board for the Travel
and FATE cards. As daily fates and mileage are read, locate each
point of interest on the classroom map. Teachers, be sure to pre-read
all materials. The Travel and FATE cards are copyrighted.
Considerable research into actual diaries, events, and places are the
basis for the events in the simulation. The Travel and FATE cards are
original materials prepared by a teacher/writer team for use in this
- Prepare students by conducting research activities
about this period in history, using classroom resources and school library
materials. Your local public library may be a great additional resource.
There are also excellent Internet links (the General
Store can be of great help, here). Students are interested in real
life diaries (primary sources) and handed down, family stories (oral
- Assign identities to students. We suggest that you divide
students into groups of four or five students per family/wagon.
- Allow students to create their supply lists.
- Help students prepare a budget ledger and discuss its
- Tell students that they may wish (or you require that
they) keep a diary of the daily events from the Travel and Fates.
- Set the stage for an enjoyable experience! Sing pioneer
songs, tell campfire stories, draw, paint, build, cook, quilt, play
old-time games, learn to play the harmonica, read picture books and
tall tales, watch some of the excellent video resources...enjoy watching
your engaged learners AND roll up your sleeves and participate with
|Pacing of the Project
Concentrate on initial activities to prepare your students for the journey.
Help students gain background knowledge about the period. Use period pictures,
diaries, and other primary source materials you can find. Get the facts.
Daily Travel and FATES will drive the curriculum.
Some FATES will ask students to make small decisions or choices that will
effect Travel time. Teachers can use the cards to locate landmarks, introduce
geography concepts, or discuss pertinent science topics. Topics introduced
by the cards can be augmented to provide in-depth learning experiences.
Read journals and short stories of the era. Students write about their adventures
and experiences on the trail as a "family."
|Weeks #3 & #4
Same format as week #2, as the Wagontrain travels
the virtual Oregon Trail. Remind your
students that all participating students (from all over the nation) are
experiencing the same set of Travel & Fates in their own classrooms.
By using teacher e-mail, the Pioneer Trading Post and Bulletin Board,
the weekly Trail Meeting Chat, we can all share our pioneering experience. To
achieve this aspect of the project, consider teaming with another school
in your district.
Student projects are completed, journals are finalized,
classroom culminating activities are conducted as the project is completed.
We have arrived in Oregon and are ready for our Trail Meeting Reunion.
|Using the Travel and FATES
In weeks 2-4, participants will use a set of
Travel and Fate cards. These were specifically written to be used for
this online simulation. WARNING! There are far too many fates to be read
in a week, so pick and choose the ones that will be used in your classroom.
Some take longer than others.
- Read and discuss each Travel & Fate
with the whole class.
- Ask pioneer families to make their decision
collaboratively, THEN read their fate.
- Ask students to prepare a journal of their
Travel and Fate events.
- Ask students to locate their Travel position
on a map.
Optional: Make an overhead transparency
or post computer printouts on your classroom bulletin board.
|Teachers are encouraged to share classroom
stories with other classes if you are traveling in a group.
Weekly online Trail Meetings and Trail Decisions
Each week the Travel and Fates will feature an important
Trail Decision for classes to discuss in their classrooms.
- Read and discuss each trail decision so they
will thoroughly understand their choices.
- Following the discussion:
Ask students to write
about the trail decision in their journals.
|Additional Learning Opportunities:
- Some teachers may wish to use this opportunity
to have students research and report on topics of interest. This may
result in an individual or cooperative research paper, or could be used
to create a classroom historical newspaper with reports of important
issues in history!
- Students can write and publish their own
pioneer journals. Be sure to allow artistic options to be exercised
(yes, singed and dirtied papers DO look old!).
- Journals can contain poetry, landscape drawings,
maps, lost dog posters etc. Take a look at Side
Trips for additional project ideas.
- Be sure to share your ideas (or have your students do
so) so we can all benefit!