The Oregon Trail as a Multidisciplinary Instructional Tool

Social Studies:

Mapping - The students will keep track of their route on a map.

Geography - The students should label and describe the key geographic locations that they arrive at.

Clothing Styles - Look into identifying what clothing was used at the time.

Religion - Research the religious backgrounds of those who embarked on the trail.  This will likely be varied.

Guns/Hunting - Find out what types of guns and ammunition were used at the time.

Food - What kinds of food were eaten on the trail.


Medical - Keep track of the diseases and ailments that the travelers got on the trail.

Practical - What is "caulking"?  What does it really involve?

Weather - What are the weather patterns on the Oregon Trail from March through December?

Vegetation - What types of vegetation was encountered, including wild fruit, types of grass, and types of trees and forests.  What was edible, what was poisonous?

Wildlife - Study the changes in wildlife along the trail from the 1800's through present.


Purchasing/Budgeting - The process of outfitting the waggon should be discussed in the context of money management.

Continued tracking of funds - Much like the skills used to balance a check book, the students should keep track of each expense along the way, and subtract it from their total.


Reading - The students will not only read and observe what heppens to them, but learn to take brief notes about events that happen to them and their wagon party.

Creative Writing - The students can write about what happened to their family, and embellish the story as they see fit for a creative writing experience.


Painting/Drawing - The students could use a given medium (watercolors/stencil, etc.) to draw depictions of  key events that occur.

Image Capture - The students could take screen snapshots of key events already drawn by the game, and incorporate them into their written report.

Foreign Language:

Tranlsation - Students could do a cross-age unit, in which high school age students work with elementary age students to translate the elemtary students' stories from english to the foreign language the older student is studying.

*Click here to download the Oregon Trail Treveler's Notes