Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Pioneers, part 2: The Geography

 part 2: The Geography 

Monday: Timeline

Have your student add to his timeline: 1812: Robert Stuart,  a trapper, and six companions discovered the South Pass and the trails along the Sweetwater and Platte Rivers, which later became known as the Oregon Trail.

Tuesday: Videos

Watch a movie, television show or documentary with pioneers as the theme. Have your student jot down notes in his notebook on observations and questions that came to him as he watched the program. These notes can lead later to a research paper.
Some ideas to get you started:
How the West Was Won
Ken Burns, The West 
Little House on the Prairie 

Wednesday and Thursday: Research: Geography

Have your student locate information about the terrain, landforms and geography of the regions between Missouri and Iowa in the Midwest and Utah, Oregon and California on the west coast. This includes prairies, rivers, deserts, and mountains.
Have your student map all of these features, including the Continental Divide. Have him include the Platte, Snake, Sweetwater and Colombia Rivers. What were some of the hazards of rivers? How did the Pioneers cross the rivers -their wagons and their animals? What gave them problems? Did crossing the rivers differ according to the river they were crossing?
Have your student research and include the following mountains on their map:
Rockies, Blue Mountains,  Cascades and the Sierra Nevadas.
Have him research how the difficulties going down a mountain differed from climbing up a mountain.
Have your student research desert areas and include them on the map.
What made travel in the desert so difficult.

Friday: Role-Play

As the scenario unfolds, you, the Games-Master/Teacher, will be keeping track of the points your student has earned, the wagon current energy factor, and any delay points accrued. The totals of these numbers will determine how far along the wagon has gone each day of game time. At the beginning, the people in the wagon train are healthy, their spirits are high, their animals are well-fed and healthy,  their wagons are in good repair and their supplies are not yet depleted,  so at the beginning each wagon has an energy factor of 50. The total points you student makes on the assignments he has been given x 50. It takes 340 points to move the wagon 100 miles.
As the  trip progresses, supplies diminish, people and animals get sick, wagons begin to fall apart as well as the characters' spirits. These Fates will reduce the Energy Factor number.

Your beginning point is Independence, Missouri. Have your student mark Independence our on his map and note when he left Independence. He meets with the other men.  Who are they? Where did they cone from? There are plenty of women meeting and talking and lots of children playing. The atmosphere is very festive.

Just west of Fort Independence, you already learn that water is vital for survival for your wagon, for both the people and animals. The spring has been extremely dry and so the water you brought with you has become crucially important.  Searching for and collecting water along the trail is risky and time consuming.  If you did not bring water barrels with you, you lose 1 EF. If you only brought 1 barrel, you get 200 DPs. If you were wise and brought more than 1 barrel, you watch as you pass by others in the other wagons in the wagon train collecting water and ending up at the back of the train as they are delayed.

The day is otherwise uneventful  but you are thinking ahead to the eveing meal. As you had a cold lunch, you'll want a hot meal, but first you'll have to start a fire. If you did not bring along firewood, you must spend time throughout the day searching for wood, bushes and buffalo chips since the prairie has very few trees. This takes time and delays your wagon. 200 DP'S if you did not have firewood.

The wagon train has stopped for the night. The women and bachelor men without women in their wagon make the evening meal while the boys and young men feed and water the livestock and milk the cow, if you have one. If you do not have a flint and steel, it takes some time to light a fire.

At night, you settle in the back of the wagon, or, if it is warm enough, the ground around the fire. You learn the importance of a blanket. Anyone in your wagon who foes not have a blanket risks catching a cold, which won't stop you from your duties, but will make you feel miserable. Subsequent nights you have a 25% chance of catching pneumonia,  which will keep you bed ridden for 1d6 days while you recover.

This routine follows for days until one night one of the members of the wagon train failed to make his family fire in a trench and embers blew out and started a prairie fire. You and the other members of the wagon train spent all night and most of the next day fighting the fire. This costs you 600 DP's.

A few days later, your oxen, if you have oxen, ate Loco weed and are too sick to travel. You lose 500 DP's. If you do not have oxen, you possibly see this fate affect another wagon in the wagon train and they fall behind.

Another night, you hear rustling as if someone is walking near. Or, perhaps it is an animal? If you have candles or a lantern, you see that it is a deer. Otherwise, you stay up for some time, worried about what it must be and are very tired the next day. Add/subtract 1 from your rolls.


1 comment:

  1. I think, next year I might try to figure out how to do some of this with our Texas history studies......


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