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Kicking off on the Oregon Trail

Lesson Plan Item

General Information
Grade 4th Grade Class Social Studies Length of Lesson 20-30 Minutes
Lesson Title Kicking off on the Oregon Trail
Unit Title Immigration out West and Manifest Destiny
Unit Compelling Question What hardships and challenges did real life pioneers face on the Oregon trail?
Historical Context:

The Oregon Trail is a 2,170-mile East-West large-wheeled wagon route and emigrant trail.  The trail was developed by fur traders and trappers from 1811-1840, later being cleared of obstacles adequately to allow wagon traffic.  The Trail eventually reached to the Willamette Valley, in Oregon.  About 400,000 settlers, farmers, miners, ranchers and business owners used the Oregon Trail, traveling for 6 months to a year, across rugged terrain to reach their destination. Part of the Trail was also used by travelers intending to reach areas other than Oregon.  Emigrants carried with them supplies for the journey, including staples such as water, flour, sugar, salt and coffee, and salted meat such as bacon, as well as rifles and ammunition to hunt for game along the route.  They traveled in covered wagons which offered shelter from the weather, yet were light enough for a team of oxen to pull.  Emigrants faced many dangers on the Trail, including dysentery, cholera and other diseases, as well as accidents and drownings.  The completion of the first transcontinental railroad in 1869 made the trip west faster, cheaper and safer, and use of the Oregon Trail declined.  (Wikipedia and History https://www.history.com/topics/westward-expansion/oregon-trail ).

Manifest Destiny was the 19th century belief that Americans were destined to expand across North America.


2018.018.010 This yoke was used to drive the team of oxen that brought William Sunderlin and his family to Iowa in 1856. This bow yoke is carved from a solid piece of wood and is quite heavy. The yoke sat on top of the animals' shoulders and the bentwood bows slid around the neck from the bottom and were secured with the ends poking out the top of the yoke, as is shown in the carved model. The iron ring at the center bottom of the yoke attached to a pole or chain from the wagon or plow. In this way, the oxen could push against the yoke with all their strength.  The name of the donor's father, B. H. Jackson, is painted on the yoke.

~ Teaching Iowa History Team
Lesson Supporting Question What were the hardships that early pioneers faced when they expanded westward? Why would pioneers continue to go west with all of these challenges in the way?
Lesson Overview

Manifest Destiny and how it shaped the United States in the mid 1900’s century. 

Primary Sources Used
Resources Needed
Lesson Target
  • Students will be able to demonstrate what compelled people to move to new places and how the culture of the United States was changed by the different immigrant groups moving westward.
  • Students will complete this task by creating a shopping list of items that early settler might have brought on the Oregon Trail without going over the amount of 400 dollars with 100% accuracy.
  • Students will complete be able to correctly add multi-digit numbers in the dollar form by adding up the supplies on their shopping list with 100% accuracy. The students must not go over the amount given to achieve this.
Lesson Themes Settlers / Pioneers
Lesson Procedure
Step Procedure Time Differentiation plan / Additional Information

-Teacher will go over the list the students made in in the last class session. 
-Projected on the projector is the supply list with marks “N” for Needs and “W” for Wants. This will be a small recap on what is essential and what is not. 

    -Students had a hard time picturing what a yoke was, so spent no more than a minute showing a Yoke and what it look like to the student to grabs what it is. 
10 min. 

Need to have a signal that will get the students attention, talking over them is a pit fall

Suggestion having a ball and tossing it to kids. When a student had the ball they answer the question. Worked well


-Introduce the student to Edmund Booth who was a 49er that was blind in one eye and deaf, but survived the Oregon Trail. A large portion of the Oregon Trail .

    - He also passed through Iowa, and traveled with people from Iowa. 
1-2 min. 

Edmund having been and travel with people from Iowa will hopefully make the reading more relevant to the students

He had more hardships form the start, which make him more compelling to the students


-Once the printed out dairies out handed out, the teacher will call on a student to read a paragraph out loud.
-The student will be handed a ball, the student holding the ball with be the one that reads out loud.
-Once the first student has finished reading the paragraph, the student with pick another student to hand the ball to, to read next.

    -This pattern will continue until the excerpt of the diary is read. There      are eight paragraphs in the reading, can be split up more if the teacher wants more students to read
10-15 min.

Each teacher should read over the diary and define or simply any words that might be confusing or difficult for students to comprehend. 

Keep an eye that students not reading are following along

Recapping what the student just read in the dairy is a good way to sum up the strange test. Primary sources can have difficult writing and language students that make it difficult for some students to comprehend. 

4 - Ask students to look at the lists they complied yesterday 1 min.  This is the list supplies that they would bring on the Oregon Trail 

-Teacher will instruct the students to go over their first list, and now make changes and create a second list knowing what they know about Needs vs. Wants, and real life examples.

2 min.   

-Students will spend a couple of minutes going over and see what can be changed on their lists to make it better 

-Students will still only have 400 dollars 

5-8 min.    If student do not finish within this time, they can work on it later within the week. 
Formative Assessment
(How will you use the formative assessments to monitor and inform instruction?)
  • Student will turn in their completed list, filled out with the first list and the update second list. This will serve to see if students with This assessment will serve as a check point to see if the students are grabbing the differences between essential and non-essential items. As well as prepare them for the next assignment to come.
Summative Assessment
(How does the lesson connect to planned summative assessment(s)?)
  • Students will turn in their diary letters and final revised list into their artifact box. This box will serve as a collection of the students’ knowledge of pioneer life. The diary will show if students grasp of how the struggle of pioneer life. While the list will demonstrate the student development in understanding the financial hardships of the Oregon Trail. Both pieces of work can serve as references for students to reflected back on when the unit is completed and compare and contrast how their list changed when they played the Oregon Trail game.
Author Information
Author Shelby McAllister Reviewer Dr. Chad Timm, Simpson College Created 06/23/2019 Last Edited 09/06/2019
Lesson Plan Development Notes: Social Studies Methods, Simpson College, Spring 2019

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