If you’re around my age and grew up in the United States you probably played the Oregon Trail computer game. It solidified our grasp on US history, and for me, at least, started a love of the Oregon Trail and US history. With all that said, I’ve got a few fun Oregon Trail lessons and Oregon Trail projects to add into our history lessons (and US history lesson in particular) that turn into an Oregon Trail project and now I’m collecting it all into an Oregon Trail unit.
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I love my books, and the Oregon Trail booklist has some really great books. I’m also realizing there is a whole other list I could put together of just Westward Expansion as we read a great book the other day when we were studying one of the Western states.
There are so many Oregon Trail books, that I’ve split this into its own post: Oregon Trail booklist.
On a similar topic, I also have an Immigration picture book list because so many immigrants headed West on the Oregon Trail.
What led to the Oregon Trail
Before you can have an Oregon Trail you first have to own the territory, or at least believe you do. So first we need to have a Louisiana Purchase and all that came with that.
- Lewis and Clark lesson
- Lewis and Clark explore the park– I was so ridiculously proud of that rhyming title
Oregon Trail Unit
In all reality, a better description of this would be a Westward Expansion Unit because there is so much more than just the Oregon Trail. There’s the Gone To Texas group who just left a note on their door saying that. Or the Boomer Sooners who raced into Oklahoma. There is Bloody Kansas as war almost broke out in Kansas over whether it would be a free or a slave state. There is a lot you could put into this unit.
I’ve been blogging for over 10 years now, and so as I find more posts on this, I’m adding more materials in here. Like I said, there’s a lot to pack into the Westward Expansion information.
- Living in the Oregon territory
- Oregon Trail game
- What will you pack in your covered wagon?
- Covered Wagon craft
- Daniel Boone (exploring the West before the Louisiana purchase), and the craft to go with it is perfect for creating a hands on project
- Trail of Tears
Generic resources for this time period
As we’ve studied history, we’ve done a lot of historical trades lessons and historical living. These are resources that can fill out your Oregon Trail Unit as you learn about how they made their homes or furniture, maybe try your hand at dying fabric.
- Make a historical doll bed
- Design a better plow
- Leatherworking project
- Natural Dyes
- Games and pastimes
- Handkerchief doll
Folklore and Famous people from the time
As people moved West folk tales and tall tales rose up, and famous people became legends in their own right.
- Mike Fink– Until we studied Mississippi I hadn’t heard of this particular tall tale, but it fascinated me
- Jean Laffitte– PIRATES! But a patriotic pirate
- Sequoyah– I need to reread this lesson
- Swamp Angel– reminds me a bit about Paul Bunyan
Oregon Trail Unit YouTube resources
Every time we study a new topic I head to YouTube and look up videos to explain the topic. I’ve watched through most of these, but it’s been long enough I can’t 100% vouch for the materials.
I will say, they are all historically accurate to the best of my knowledge, and the material is solidly aimed at a junior high/high school level. If you’re sharing this with elementary kids I would definitely watch first.
Somewhat related: The Old West, what happened after they traveled West
Once they settled into their new homes, a whole new world opened up, how should we act with each other, and what should we be doing?
- Gunfight at the OK Corral
- Fort Boonesborough field trip
- Cattle Drives and the Old West
- The Transcontinental Railroad– which ended some parts of the Oregon Trail
- A place called Freedom