Lesson Plan

Go West: Imagining the Oregon Trail

"The Oregon Trail" (1869) by Albert Bierstadt
Photo caption

"The Oregon Trail" (1869) by Albert Bierstadt

A 2,000-mile trek across a continent-with no idea what awaits you on the other side. Tell your students to put on their traveling shoes and prepare for the journey of their lives! In this lesson, students compare imagined travel experiences of their own with the actual experiences of 19th-century pioneers. After writing stories about contemporary cross-country journeys, students learn about the experiences of the emigrants who traveled on the Oregon Trail. They then create works of historical fiction in the form of picture books or letters, drawing upon the information they have learned.

Guiding Questions

What was it like to travel west on the Oregon Trail?

How has the experience of travel changed since the time of the Oregon Trail?

Learning Objectives

Understand the way people experienced the Oregon Trail.

Compare and contraste modern-day travel experiences with travel experiences of the 19th century.

Synthesize historical data through creative writing.