Lesson Plan: Westward Expansion and Wagon Trails

Westward Expansion and Wagon Trails

In this clip, National Park Service Historian Bob Moore as he discusses an exhibit in the Museum of Westward Expansion. The exhibit details the different aspects that people traveling in wagons would take with them on the trip while showing the parts of the wagon and the amount of space available to the pioneers.

Description

In this lesson, students will hear from National Park Service Historian Bob Moore as he discusses an exhibit in the Museum of Westward Expansion. The exhibit details the different aspects that people traveling in wagons would take with them on the trip while showing the parts of the wagon and the amount of space available to the pioneers.

Procedures

  • WARM-UP:

    Provide students with the following question:

    Why do people move?

    Have students brainstorm and popcorn out their answers through in-class or virtual discussion or on a classroom chat.

    Then follow up with the question:

    Why would someone leave their home and travel to the West?

    Have students share their responses.

  • VOCABULARY INTRODUCTION:

    Have students complete the vocabulary activity. If using their personal devices, they should make a copy of the Google Slide and match each term to the appropriate definition. If they are using this as a printed handout, they can draw arrows to the correct match.

    HANDOUT: Westward Expansion Vocabulary Activity (Google Slide)

    • Pioneer
    • Overland
    • Transcontinental Railroad
    • Cholera
    • Grim
  • EXPLORATION:

    After reviewing the vocabulary terms and addressing any misconceptions, have students view the following video clip to learn about what the wagons were like that families used to move West. Students should complete the related Graphic Organizer with information from the video and answer the accompanying questions.

    HANDOUT: Westward Expansion Graphic Organizer (Google Slide)

    Video Clip: Westward Expansion and Wagon Trails (4:02)

    1. Why would someone want to leave their homes to travel West?

    2. What would you have taken with you on your travels to the West?

    3. What dangers would you face heading West?

    4. What do you think will be the impact of the large migration of the people to the West?
  • APPLICATION:

    Using what they learned in the video clip, have students select one of the following handouts to complete about the move West.

    HANDOUT: Going West! Activity (Google Slides) (Adapted from the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center)

    HANDOUT: Westward Expansion Map (Google Slide)

  • CONCLUSION:

    Ask students to consider their notes from the video as well as class discussion as they complete the following activity:

    HANDOUT: Send a Postcard! (Google Slides)

Vocabulary

  • Cholera
  • Grim
  • Oregon
  • Overland
  • Pioneer
  • Transcontinental Railroad

Topics

U.S. History

Grades

Middle School