Discussion in 'Fourth Grade' started by Ms_B, Aug 1, 2008.
Aug 1, 2008
Any ideas for teaching the Oregon Trail?
We read Patty Reed's Doll when we study the California-Oregon Trail. I have the kids create a pioneer family and stock a wagon from a list that I give them. They have to make decisions about what to take since the wagon will not hold everything. We talk about each of the supplies, but they make their own decisions about what would/would not be useful.
After we start reading, I have situations set up that are similar to different chapters in the book. How your pioneer family deals with the situation depends upon what supplies you have. For example, after a rainstorm your wagon gets stuck in the mud. If you have brought rope you are able to pull your wagon out and all is well. If you don't have rope, you have to "lighten the load" by a certain amount to be able to get the wagon unstuck. Another of my favorites is the coffee situation. Quite often on the trail the water quality was poor and the taste was very disagreeable. Everyone drank coffee, including the oxen, to disguise the ick. If you have coffee you make it through to fresh water. If not, your oxen refuse to drink, one of them dies, and, again, you have to "lighten the load".
The kids write about each situation in the form of a diary entry.
Since you're in Oregon, have you contacted the Whitman Mission? They have lots of great materials, which I believe (it was many years ago that I got them) were free.
I read Dear Levi by Woodruff. The kids love it and they are usually shocked by how hard life was - and how sad. It is a wonderful book told in letter form.
I love Dear Levi!!! There is a book similar to Dear Levi about the Underground Railroad written as letters from Levi back to his brother.
Yes, it is called Dear Austin. I plan to use that also this year. In fact, I'm going to do most of my social studies teaching from historical fiction. Never done that before, so I hope I can cover enough. I think they'll remember it better.
Aug 3, 2008
I love teaching Oregon Trail. Our school reads Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie: The Story of Hatti Campbell (sp) I also made a map of the trail with the stops discussed in the book. I have made scenario cards like the ones from the computer game. I break my students into 5 wagon trains and they all create an identity and family. We make journals to record our findings, feelings, etc. They love this. We read a little from the book each day (we have class sets) and then we draw a question from the scenario cards. Each group has to respond in less than 5 min. I they are right they move along the trail 5 paces, wrong only 3. We have to move or they will never make it to the end! I also have a bonus card stack with random happenings. One member from each group selects one each day. They are things like "crossing river, someone drowns today" don't move, or"you found wild carrots", move 2 spots. This is very interactive for the students. I have made this game better over the last couple years. It took a lot of time. By the end of the book, we have learned all about the stops on the trail, hardships, cities, supplies, indians, land, animals. It is really a great book. Sad parts, happy parts, funny parts. I have read the book 6 years and never get sick of it.
I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who posted their great ideas. I will be checking into the books mentioned, and I loved the both ideas from GoldenPoppy and zoodies to do an interactive Oregon trail activity. Thanks again.
Aug 5, 2008
I was reorganizing my reading library today, since we have over 100 new books and found 2 Dear Levi books! I hope to read over this and see if it is something I could read this year too.
We use Dear Levi as a read-aloud at our school, too. It is good! I also liked If you Traveled West in a Covered Wagon...as a nonfiction piece.
Additionally, the PC game is exclusively sold at Target! (And OF COURSE I purchased it!) I'm excited to see it back in the stores.