SOESD / Learning Matters / Newsletter Archive / March 2007 / Oregon Trail Trunk Travels Through the SOESD Region
Oregon Trail Trunk Travels Through the SOESD Region
Larry Francis and Kelly Bryant
The trunk was a big success with my classroom of 32 fourth and fifth graders. They really enjoyed watching the slide presentation, and the students did a great job of asking good questions. It really helped spur the children’s interest in the history of Oregon.
— Rob Harrington, 4-5th grade teacher,
Wolf Creek Elementary
By having the Southern Oregon ESD rent the “Oregon Trail” trunk from the Oregon Historical Society in Portland, several teachers were able to share with their students topic-specific historical artifacts. For the teachers themselves, the trunk has plenty of lesson plans to help them present the material.
One of the places the trunk traveled to was Rob Harrington’s 4th-5th grade classroom at Wolf Creek Elementary School in northern Josephine County. Here’s what one of Rob’s students, Ashley, had to say about the contents of the trunk: “…the three things I liked were the schoolbooks, the curling iron, and the doll. The reason I picked the books, is because they have lots of detail, and they are small to use. You could take them just about anywhere. The next item I picked is the curling iron. I picked the curling iron, because you put it over the fire, and just made it hot enough. The last item I chose was the doll. I chose the doll because it is pretty the way they sewed the dolls.”
Rob Harrington, Ashley’s teacher, started by showing the slides to the children and discussing them. He asked questions about various things in the slide, like wagon ruts, or prominent landmarks, and then asked students to go and point them out on the screen.
Then Rob did a "guessing" activity with the artifacts, by having students tell him what they thought each item was used for.
After that, he called on children to recall facts and place names, from the slide show and presentation. “I was very impressed with how the children could recall the names of various places,” Rob says. “It was definitely one of those lessons that left the children wanting more answers and information about the Oregon Trail.”
Rob asked his students to write narratives as if they were pioneers on the trail. Reading first-person accounts of people traveling the Oregon Trail helped students create their own accounts based on the experience of the pioneers. Here are excerpts from some of their narratives:
Chance: “Today is the day that my family and I are leaving Missouri to go to Oregon. We have packed 200 pounds of flour, 150 pounds of bacon, and 300 pounds of meat. I took my powder horn to load my rifle, and Sis packed her doll.”
Dakota: “May 30, 1843. My name is Jacob and I am one of the many pioneers on the Oregon Trail. We have traveled far from Missouri. We settled near Willow Springs and got food and water. My dad’s favorite oxen broke his horn and we made a powder horn from it.”
|Sean Cole and Frank Fleming|
Karlene: “Today it's Thursday the 8th and we are still on our way to Oregon. It's exciting, but cold. Yesterday we saw Chimney Rock. It was amazing. Yesterday I walked 24 miles, and only got in the wagon once.”
Candice: “Long ago in the early 1840's we were heading north towards Oregon. It was very rainy, and there were rivers at flood stage. It was really muddy and the wagons got stuck. We'd have to push the wagons up hill. We'd unhook the oxen and tie the rope to a tree and pull the wagons up the hill.”
Amber: “I liked the soap from the Oregon Trail. It had no smell and felt like cheese. I also liked the books. They have names inside them like Matthew and Olivia. The books were brown and green, and I also liked the black and white picture.”
Mistydawn: “The Oregon Trail is a trail made in the 1840’s. The pioneers had to travel months before reaching Oregon. They had oxen pull the wagons. Oxen are stronger than horses, so that is why they used oxen.”
|Corey Steward, Ashley Smith, and Candice Rymer|
Students in our region don’t have easy access to visit the exhibits at the Historical Society in Portland, but the next best thing is getting learning materials that enhance their learning experience. The SOESD Media library has rented the Oregon Trail trunk for the month of February and will have other trunks available in April and in May. Teachers can check out videos, DVDs, plastic life-size human skeletons, or any of the other more than 15,000 items in our Media Materials Library by visiting our online catalog at www.soesd.k12.or.us/booking or by calling 541.776.8560 or 800.460.6454. But teachers in the SOESD’s three-county service area have already reserved the Oregon Trail trunk for February and the other two for April and May. If you’re a teacher interested in renting a trunk directly from the Oregon Historical Society (at $25 per week), contact Tania Hyatt-Evenson, Education Programs Associate NHD State Coordinator, Oregon Historical Society, 1200 SW Park Avenue, Portland, OR 97205, (503) 306-5232 or email@example.com. If you’re interested in knowing about future trunks and other media resources, contact your school’s or district’s librarian or media specialist.
Having students get to see and touch actual historical artifacts from the trunk really helped their background knowledge and experience of what it must have been like for the pioneers traveling to Oregon.
I can tell you that the trunk was really essential in making some of these abstract ideas concrete. It is difficult for this age of students to connect with a period of time so far in the past and so different from what they experience.
— JoEllen Meyeroff, 4-5th grade teacher,