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The Oregon Trail

Imagine walking for 2,000 miles — barefoot. That is what many children did as they traveled the Oregon Trail in the 1800s. Being a pioneer was not easy. The weak did not survive. But those who were strong and determined had an incredible adventure.

Go to http://www.isu.edu/~trinmich/Oregontrail.html and read All About the Oregon Trail. Click on "Hardships." On this page, the historian Merrill Mattes is quoted as saying: "The trip for most people was an ordeal. More than they bargained for, I'm sure. But most of them had the guts to stick it out and either get there or die in the effort." What do you think the pioneers were looking for? What do you think would motivate them "to stick it out"?

Now from the left side of the screen, click on "Historic Sites." Visit five sites along the trail and write the name of the site and a give brief description of each.

Go to Fantastic Facts and then click on "Weird Wagons." Imagine that you plan to join the wagon trains on the Oregon Trail. On your paper, design a vehicle that could take you on a journey across rough, uncharted territory. (Remember — cars didn't exist.)

Extension Activity

Complete your journey by taking a field trip with the students at Monroe Middle School. Go to http://monhome.sw2.k12.wy.us/ot/trail.html. Read about the places they visited, then read their imaginary pioneer journals. Show what you learned from this lesson by writing a journal pretending that you traveled the Oregon Trail with your family.

The Oregon Trail Teacher's Notes

Grade Levels: 4–8

Learning Objectives:

Time Required: 2 class periods