Lesson Plan

If You Were a Pioneer on the Oregon Trail

Oregon National Historic Trail in Wyoming.
Photo caption

Oregon National Historic Trail in Wyoming.

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 creating, as a class, oral 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, 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 over the course of the last 150 years? 

Learning Objectives

Learn about the pioneer experience on the Oregon Trail.

Compare and contrast modern day travel experiences with those of the 19th century.

Synthesize historical data through a creative project.