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 4: Landmarks on the Overland Route

part 4: Landmarks on the Overland Route 

Monday: Timeline

Have your student add to his timeline: 1841: The first overland wagon train, led by John Bidwell, to make the entire trip.  The small wagon train left together at Independence, Missouri. At Soda Springs,  Idaho,  half went on the Hedspeth Cutoff to California and half went on to  Oregon.

Tuesday: Research: Landmarks and Signposts

Have your student research landmarks and signposts pioneers saw, writing a short description of each in their notebooks.
Courthouse Rock
Jail Rock
Chimney Rock
Scott's Bluff
Independence Rock
Devil's Gate
Split Rock
South Pass
Natural Bridge
Soda Springs,  Idaho
The Dalles

  • Have your student determine the distance between each landmark.
  • Invite your student to make a model of a landmark.

Wednesday: Writing

You are now about 480 miles west of the Missouri River and you have been on the trail about one month.  You are following the Platte River.  What kind of terrain do you see? Are there any flowers or trees? What kind of grass is available for the cattle?

Thursday: The Role-Play

Water still is a problem. You think your luck is about to change as you see a well in the distance,  but as you come closer you see that the people around it are not people getting water, but are people guarding the well. What do you do?
If he decides to fight the men for the water, roll as for any attack. If he decides to sneak up on well and loses the sneak roll, the guards see him and a fight breaks out.

One of your party fell over a stone and landed in the fire last night while cooking dinner and burned both hands. To recover, you must write a research paragraph (50-100 words), with sources indicated, on burns and how they were treated. 100 DP's for a good paragraph, 200 DPs if an acceptable paragraph is turned in. If no paragraph is turned in, the burns become infected and you lose 2 EFs.

The wagon train's dogs have been running wild over the Prarie at night, howling and chasing coyotes and other animals.  A number of people are complaining that the dogs are keeping them awake. Several people have said that they will shoot the next dog that howls tonight. Your guide is calls for a brief wagon train meeting to decide what to do. Tell the Games Master/Teacher what the group's decision is. If your student chooses to restrain the dogs to keep them closer to the wagon train at night or some other solution to continue using the dogs as an important warning system, the wagon train continues without delay. 100 DP's if he chooses a solution which basically ignores the concerns of those who are upset by the dogs, allowing them to shoot the next howling dog. 400 DP's if no solution is offered.

Your daughter  (if he hasn't a daughter,  the daughter of a friend or of nearby wagon acquaintance) fell off the wagon seat, the wheel rolled over her leg and broke it. It will be a number of weeks before she will heal. You must write a research paragraph, as before, on how a broken leg was treated. 100 DP's for a good paragraph,  400 DP'S for an unacceptable paragraph and 400 DP's and 1 EF for no paragraph turned in.

The yolk on your oxen breaks and you need to spend time repairing it. It takes longer if you do not have a repair kit.

Friday: Writing Research Paper

Your student should now begin deciding on a topic for his research paper. It can come from the notes he has been taking, or he can think of a new topic to explore.


  1. I'm having so much fun reading this and thinking how to adapt it to our Texas history studies next year.


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