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 3: Weather and the Landforms

part 3: Weather and the Landforms 



Have your student add to his timeline: Late 1830's: Missionaries began developing the Oregon Trail.


Begin reading a novel or a nonfiction book of length about the pioneers. Invite your student to reflect on the readings in their notebooks.

Tuesday: Research: Weather on the Overland Route

The weather played a key role in the pioneers' westward migration. Specific weather data can be obtained from Government Depository Libraries. Have your student research what the weather was like for each of the following locations and weeks in 1844, 1852 and 1864.
Independence,  Missouri; 1st week of May
Fort Kearney; 1st week of June
Fort Laramie; 2nd week of July
Fort Boise; 3rd week of August
Fort Walla Walla; 4th week of September
Oregon City;  2nd week of October
San Francisco;  2nd week of October

Have your student find descriptions of the thunderstorms, sand storms, cold nights, hot days and snowstorms the pioneers encountered.

Wednesday: Writing

Have your student synthesize all he has learned about how the landforms and weather for each geographical region made travel easier or more difficult for the wagon trains and write his conclusions in his notebook. He will be using this information later when he begins making a Travel Guide later.

Thursday: The Progress So Far...


The wagon train has been on the trail for three weeks. Have your student figure out about how many miles does his wagon travel each day? How far has the wagon gone? The wagon train went through Alcove Springs to Fort Kearney and along the south bank of the Platte River. How far is Fort Kearney from Independence, Missouri?

Journal Writing

Write about the most significant things that have happened to you, or what you have seen. Be as descriptive as possible. As well as the significant events, also describe what people do in the wagon train before they go to bed. Describe the morning activities from the time everyone wakes up until the wagon train is on the trail.

Friday: The Role-Play

You are beginning to see the need for the all-purpose weapon to a settler, the rifle. It is used for hunting,  fighting and protection. If you do not have a rifle, subtract 1 EF.

Your wagon train is having some trouble because some members did not bring along water and are suffering from the lack of it. If you have the water, do you sell some to those who do not have it? If you do not have enough water, do you decide to continue without it? Or, do you decide to pool your money with others and buy some from another wagon that brought extra water? Remember that not having the money you spent on the water may become important later when supplies are running low, when you have to pay Indians for crossing their land, or when you need other supplies.

Games-Master / Teacher: If he decides to buy the water but not share it, roll a six-sided die 1-no change, 2-add 1 EF. 3- subtract 1 EF, 4 -no change, 5- subtract 2 EFs, 6- add 2 EFS. If he buys the water and shares it, have him roll a four-sided die and he loses that number of EFs and one head of livestock. If he decides to continue without water, have him roll a six-sided die and he loses that number of EFS and 1 head of livestock.

The heat has shrunk the green wood in your wagon wheels and the iron rims on the wheels keep slipping off. You must stop and repair them. 50% 100 DP'S, 50% 200 DPs.

Sagebrush is three feet high and growing as thick as hair on a hog's back and has clogged up the trail and the wagon cannot pass. You must stop and clear the trail. 50% chance that he will get 200 DPs.

You caught your sleeve on a tree branch and tore it. If you have a sewing kit, it can be repaired,  otherwise you cannot use the shirt. Hopefully,  you have a s pare shirt.

You need to  gather some fresh greens and herbs to supplement your diet. If you have brought along a basket to collect them in, this goes quickly, otherwise it takes you some time and you are delayed.


  1. Anonymous25.3.17

    This is so great! I've enjoyed seeing how all these posts pull together - you are a natural teacher :)

  2. Oh, I just realized I could modify this slightly for our history next year, we're studying Texas history, and the kids would probably love to recreate their own version of this. Now I have some thinking to do.....


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