Oregon Trail: Our Journey Begins

Hey everyone!

We began our journey on the Oregon Trail and my kiddos have loved it from the first minute. It makes me thrilled that we expanded this unit into January and give a bigger amount of time of how our state was really developed from this big moment.

Now I love getting into character, especially at the start of any new social studies or science unit. This lent itself beautifully for me; pioneers are a topic I have been obsessed with since I was a little girl. I even dressed up as Laura Ingalls one Halloween.

I started this unit last week. We had Monday off for teacher in-service and Tuesday, the kids learned about Oregon Trail propaganda. I tried to entice them with the "land of milk and honey" poster and a "cooked pigs run free" stuff, but they wouldn't fall for it. They couldn't believe some people headed to Oregon just because of those posters!

They came in Wednesday morning to see me dressed in a bonnet and apron and my trading post ready to go. Toss in some fiddle music in the background, a southern accent (yes I know we started in Missouri and they don't have that accent, but it was about being a different character!) They called me ma'am and I called them sir and ma'am and we had fun. That was until they were told they were at my trading post to go to the Oregon Trail and they now had 20 minutes to decide in wagons (table groups) what to spend their $1,000 on and that it had to be 2,400 pounds or less. 

Intense discussion and agreements going on. Each table/wagon was so into it!
I loved the math talks I heard going on, "Six people with 30 pounds each is 180 pounds. We can afford it too."

This wagon group finished early, so they taped out an approximate size of the wagon, 4 x 10. "Hey Ms. T, that's an area of 40 sq ft.!" Oh a little more math in social studies? Oh yeah!

Sitting in the wagon is a popular thing now in the last week lol.

We're an IB school so I like having it laid all out there for them and myself to refer too. 
Our first key question actually got us talking about the migration happening in Germany right now with refugees.

 The next day they came into class and we had this map and wagon ready to go.

Then on Friday we picked pioneer names and got journals/diaries ready to go. They were so excited!

They loved my pioneer name and journal.

 Yesterday was the best though. We had a wagon council meeting, because on Monday, fates hit them hard. We had sick oxen, fire problems, and some food issues already. I rolled some construction paper, cute flames, threw in some electric tealights and my assistant wrapped tissue boxes in paper for rocks/bricks.

Turn off the lights, put on fiddle music, and project the prairie and it was a fabulous meeting. The pic above has the kids warming their hands :)   We discussed our wagon train business, decided to set up camp for the night, I read by lantern a few pages from an Oregon Trail book, and our time was up already!

I can't wait for the rest of journey to unfold and will definitely keep you posted as we travel along the Oregon Trail!


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  2. You said, "We're an IB school so I like having it laid all out there for them and myself to refer too." What does IB stand for?

    I've just returned to teaching after 18 years out of the field and am trying to catch up on all the new terms and philosophies. :) Subbed near full-time on a day-to-day situation last year. Ran into your blog right before you announced your 3rd grade long term substitute spot. This year I've long term subbed from the beginning of the school year but my term ends Dec. 2. I'm so thankful for my long term experience and all that it taught me but am now trying to wrap my head around networking and changing my roll into a day-by-day sub. I look forward to much less grading. LOL

  3. IB is International Baccalaureate (PYP). The main idea is that we prepare students to be come lifelong learners that respect themselves and particpate in the world around them, creating inquirers in and out of the classroom. Best of luck with subbing!


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