We’ve been studying the American West this semester. The kids and I have been thoroughly engrossed in a wonderful book called Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie: The Oregon Trail Diary of Hattie Campbell, 1847 (Dear America Series) (Affiliate link). It’s the story of a girl making her way West along the Oregon Trail with her family. At one point the pioneers have to struggle up and then back down a steep mountainside. I had a flash of inspiration and took the kids outside to tackle their own mountain — our very steep driveway and the hill down to the house. I had them load up our wheel barrow with a box, wagon wheel and some logs and sent them on their way!
LD did the majority of the pushing uphill while DD kept it stable. They quickly realized how much they had to work together to get safely down the hill on the bumpy grass. We talked about how heavy the settler’s wagons would have been and talked about the tough choices pioneers faced as they traveled along — what to take and what to leave behind. After this activity, the kids really, really understood why pioneers would have needed ropes to ease their wagons down the hills and just how dangerous traveling could be along the Oregon Trail.
After several spills, the kids made it down. We talked a lot about how devastating it would be for the pioneers to have an accident and to lose their provisions, their animals or worse yet…their lives.
If you are interested you can check out the notebook pages the kids filled out about the Oregon Trail. These are part of our Oregon Trail Packet.
See more about our Oregon Trail Packet here!
You might be interested in some of our other posts from our American West unit:
- American West Unit: Forts
- Lewis and Clark, Fruit Leather and More
- American West Geography and the Louisiana Purchase
- The Oregon Trail
We also have various notebook pages about Native American tribes of the West, such as
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.