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        3-5, 13+

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        Idaho | Activity 5.6: Packing Up to Move Out West – Oregon Trail Emigration

        Students will learn about The Oregon Trail, the path many families took as they migrated westward in the 1800s in search of a new life and greater opportunity, despite the threats of starvations and disease. After briefly discussing the basics of the trail and why families were migrating, students will complete a worksheet filling out items families would have had to bring on such a journey.

        Lesson Summary

        Students will learn about The Oregon Trail, the path many families took as they migrated westward in the 1800s in search of a new life and greater opportunity, despite the threats of starvations and disease. After briefly discussing the basics of the trail and why families were migrating, students will complete a worksheet filling out items families would have had to bring on such a journey.

        This lesson is part of "Great States: Idaho Unit 5: Westward Expansion" which introduces students to the period of Westward Expansion, when people lived much differently than they do today. In spite of these differences, pioneer families struggled with how to obtain food and shelter, how to define the roles of each family member, and how to balance risk and opportunity—much like families in modern day Idaho.

        Time Allotment

        30 minutes 

        Learning Objectives

        Standards:

        Goal 2.3: Trace the migration and settlement of human populations on the earth’s surface.

        4.SS.2.3.1: Analyze past and present settlement patterns in Idaho.

        4.SS.5.1.2: Discuss the challenges experienced by people from various cultural, racial, and religious groups that settled in Idaho from various parts of the world.

        Supplemental Standards:

        Boise District 413.22: Analyze past and present settlement patterns in Idaho.

        Boise District 413.15: Describe the preparations necessary for the trip west to Idaho.  

        Supplies

        Directions

        1. Project the Oregon Trail map to show students. Explain that the trail—originally created by fur trappers and frontier explorers—spans 2,000 miles throughout the northwestern US, beginning in Missouri and ending in Oregon.



        2. Discuss with students how families set off west along the Oregon Trail in search of a new life on the west coast, mostly in wagons--without the convenience of airplanes or cars that we have today. It took the families months to complete the journey. Oregon was not always the end destination; many settled in places along the way—including Idaho. Talk about the reasons people might have left their original home to come west. [more land for farming, gold, new opportunities, etc] 
        3. Project the image of the wagon to give students an idea of how much room people had for supplies. Show the image of the wagon filled with supplies. Ask them to think about if their families decided to pack up and leave, what would they need to bring to have a successful journey? Have them think about how long the supplies would have lasted, and what supplies they could have found along the way.



          [Conestoga wagon on Oregon Trail; 1961; recreation, NARA]


          [Covered wagon at National Frontier Trails Museum, Gorilla Jones]

        4. Break the class up into groups and have them fill out the Oregon Trail Packing Worksheet together. Give students 10 minutes to complete the sheet. 

        5. Reconvene and discuss the group’s answers. Highlight any issues or key items they missed. 

        Answer Key

        ACTIVITY

        MUST BRING

        CAN FIND IN NATURE

        Shelter

        Axes, candles, bedding, tents, tools to fix wagons

        Timber (for shelter, boats, firewood for cooking and heat)

        Food

        (usually took up the most space)

        Hunting supplies (bow/arrow; rifle; knife);
        basic cooking utensils (skillet, coffee pot, forks/spoons/knives), food staples (flour, sugar, crackers or hard tack, beans, rice, coffee, dried fruits, salt, pepper)

        Animals, berries, fruit, water

        Clothing

        A couple of sets of warm, practical clothing (usually wool or linen), small sewing kit for repairs, soap, tub and washboard 

        Animal hides for clothing; repair; shoes

        Medical

        Medicine, disinfectant

        Medicinal berries/plants

        Leisure

        Books, paper and ink for letter writing or journaling, tobacco

        Hiking, swimming

        Trade

        Any excess supplies or supplies above

        Animal hides

         

        Extend the lesson (30 minutes):

        Materials Needed

        • Brown paper
        • Popsicle sticks
        • Thin cardboard (such as cereal boxes)
        • Glue
        • Scissors
        • Markers, crayons, or colored pencils

        Have students construct their own wagon for the Oregon Trail.  

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