Teachers Notes


Grade 4, Unit 3
Grade 5, Unit 8

Lesson Length:

Approximately one week, or 5 hours of class time.

Students will gain empathy for the hardships faced by pioneers on their travles west.

History/Social Science Content Standards

4.3 Students explain the economic, social, and political life in California from the estabishment of the Bear Flag Republic though the Mexican-American War, the Gold Rush, and the granting of statehood.

    2. Students compare how and why people traveled to California and the routes they traveled.

5.8 Students trace the colonization, immigration, and settlement patterns of the American people from 1789 to the mid-1800's, with emphasis on the role of economic incentives, effects of the physical and political geography, and transportation systems.

    4. Discuss the experience of settlers on the overland trails to the west (e.g., location of the routes, purpose of each journey; the influence of the terrain, rivers, vegetation, and climate; life in the territories at the end of these trails.

Historical and Social Sciences Analysis Skills

Chronological and Spatital Thinking

    5. Students judge the significance of the relative location of a place (e.g., proximity to a harbor, on trade routes) and anlayze how relative advantages or disadvantages can change over time.

Research Evidence and Point of View

    2. Students pose relevant questions about events they encounter in historical documents, eyewitness accounts, oral histories, letters, diaries, artifacts, photographs, maps, artworks and archetechture.

Historical Interpretation

    2. Students identify the human and physical characteristics of the places they are studying and explain how those features form the unique character of those places.

    4. Students conduct cost/benefit analyses of historical and current events.

Language Arts Standards

Grade 4
Speaking Applications
Students deliver breif recitations and oral presentations about familiar experiences or interests that are organized around a coherent thesis statement. Student speaking demonstrates a command of standard English and the organization and delivery strategies.

2.2 Students Make informal presentations that:

    2. Contain facts and details that help listeners focus.
    3. Incorporate more than one source fo information.

Grade 5
Speaking Applications

Students deliver well-organiszed formal presentations employing traditional rhetorical strategies (i.e. narration, exposition, presuasion, and descrioption). Student speaking demonstrates a command of standard English and the organization and and delivery strategies.

2.2 Students deliver informative presentations ab out a key idea, issue, or event that

    3. Develop the topic with simple facts, details,examples and explanations.

Teacher Materials:

Oregon Trail. Video. 1998. 100 Percent Educational Video Inc.

Map Rom. CD Rom. 1996. Steck Vaughn.

Oregon Trail. CD Rom. Learning Company (date unknown).


1. Bloch, Louis. Overland to California in 1859: A Guide for Wagon Trail Travelers. Bloch and Co. 1990. ISBN: 0914276042.

2. Price, Glen. Prarie Schooners. Holiday House. 1990. ISBN: 0823410862

3. Fisher, Leonard. Oregon Trail. Holiday. 1991. ISBN: 0823408337.

Adapted by: Amy Wahe and Peg Hill, SCORE H/SS from a lesson by Sandy Kellog

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