The Oregon Trail,
as experienced by our co-op :)
A fellow history teacher and I served as the guides.
The kiddos... well, they were our pioneers.
And our red radio flyer wagons,
stacked to the gills with goods the kiddos chose themselves... our prairie schooners.
And much fun was had by all.
So here's what we did--
we brought in (my friend & I) all sorts of household items:
blankets, pots, pans, books, bowls, mittens, candles, games, sewing kits, buckets, etc.--
things we knew the pioneers would have taken with them
when they made that perilous journey so long ago--
and allowed each child to choose ONE item to add to our wagon.
After all, the families who traveled the real Oregon Trail
had to be very selective as they packed for their journey
(moving vans simply did not criss-cross the country back then as they do in the here & now :),
so we wanted our students to feel that same kind of pressure... sort of~
Anyhoo, once our wild & crazy assortment was tucked snuggly inside,
we moved on out towards "Independence, Missouri"
(and had you peaked at the contents of our wagon,
you would have quickly noticed that... evidently... food wasn't all that important :)
In Independence we "purchased" a few last minute items
and then set forth down the "Oregon Trail."
We crossed rivers (blue sheets draped across the hallway),
we encountered Indians (one wonderful mom helped us out here...
in costume and face paint to boot!),
we battled cholera (yes, a few of our travelers had to moan and groan on the floor
for several fretful minutes until-- miraculously-- they all recovered),
and we even ditched some of our gear by the side of the trail
as two of our weary & beleagured oxen died of exhaustion.
We gathered "buffalo chips" to build our campfires
(=dried piles of buffalo dung, though ours were only paper :)
and we snacked on cornbread & dried apple slices
which Noh-man and I had prepared ahead of time.
We also ate (Yummy) Homemade crackers, pionner style
before shutting down camp for the night.
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
~2 T softened butter
1/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 400 .
Mix the flour, baking powder, & salt in a bowl. Use a fork to mash in the butter until the mixture looks crumbly. Add the milk and stir until a mixture forms a ball.
Roll dough (on a floury surface) into a rectangle (as flat as you can), and then cut into small squares or rectangles with a knife. Place the "crackers" onto a greased baking sheet, poke with a fork, and bake for 9 minutes. Makes roughly 24 crackers.
They're not very jazzy, but surpirsingly, my children really liked them
(and so did the kids at co-op)!
And by the time we finally made it to "Oregon,"
we were beat!
We collapsed in exhaustion (or at least pretended to)
and then silently thanked God
for planting us in the modern era...
not in the 1840s!
And just in case anyone's interested-- just in case anyone's gonna study the Oregon Trail any time soon-- here's a handful of resources I found especially helpful as I prepared my co-op lesson and as I then supplemented for my own boys at home. Enjoy!
Going West: Journey on a Wagon Train to Settle a Frontier Town by Carol A. Johmann & Elizabeth J. Rieth
Rachel's Journal: The Story of a Pioneer Girl by Marissa Moss
Bound for Oregon by Jean Van Leeuwen
A Pioneer Sampler: The Daily Life of a Pioneer Family in 1840 by Barbara Greenwood
Dandelions by Eve Bunting
Roughing It on the Oregon Trail by Diane Stanley
If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon by Ellen Levine
Skillet Bread, Sourdough, and Vinegar Pie: Cooking in Pioneer Days by Loretta Frances Ichord
History Pockets: Moving West by Evan-Moor
Little House on the Prairie by Disney (2006)... not a story of the Oregon Trail but an excellent peak into pioneer life. And if you can accept the fact that different actors are playing some of our very favorite characters of all time, I promise you won't be disappointed. All 3 of my boys (make that 4... including hubby) LOVED it!! (Just be forewarned, there are one or two scary encounters with the Indians and the wolves, but everything turned out ok :)