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Oregon Trail History for Kids

We are continuing in our history unit on westward expansion for kids. Today we are exploring the Oregon Trail for kids. We made a salt dough map, a covered wagon, crackers, and tried line dancing as fun hands on history projects. You will also find great westward expansion books and free printables for homeschoolers.Oregon Trail History for Kids - kids will have fun learning about the oregon trail with these clever oregon trail activities, history crafts, free oregon trail worksheets and more for elementary age kids as they learn about american history and the westward expansion. #historyforkids #homeschooling #oregontrail

Oregon Trail History for Kids

Dangers of Traveling West on the Oregon Trail

We discussed the dangers of heading West  – bandits, snakeroot poisonous for cows (which if not caught people would drink in their milk), exhaustion, and the length of the trip – it took several months. Families had to save up about $1000 to go, so it wasn’t cheap! They traveled in caravans for safety & protection! We also talked about the 1862 homestead act that gave every single or married couple 160 acres. Sounds like a lot of land, but it wasn’t the fertile land they had before and it took more land to feed their herd.

Free Westward Expansion Notebooking Pages about the Oregon TrailWe drew pictures from Draw Write Now that goes along with our study this week. We alternate between letting him free write, dictating, and writing the same copy work as is provided in the book.

Oregon Trail Salt Dough Map

Salt Dough Map showing the Oregon Trail for homeschool social studies

We painted our Salt Dough Map according to elevation. We added 4 major rivers and the Oregon Trail Route (in black). It was such a fun, memorable project. Making the map has certainly helped Goofy to remember a lot of Geography facts!!

Covered Wagon Craft


We made our own covered wagon.  We used cardboard for the base & wheels, a skewer to hold the wheels on, paper for the covering, and our Wild West Toob characters to go with our wagon. I love doing projects like this that really make history come alive for my 1st grader!

Make your own Crackers (like they did on the Oregon Trail)

How to make crackers project for kids - homeschool history westward expansion unit
We also made ‘supplies’ for traveling out west – crackers. They are simple to make. Just mix 1 cup flour, 1 teas baking powder, and pinch of salt. Blend in 1 TAB butter. Add 1/4 cup milk and mix until ball forms. On floured surface roll out your crackers, cut, prick with fork, and place on greased cookie sheet. I wish we’d gotten ours thinner…. so keep rolling!  Bake at 450 for 9 minutes. Enjoy!

Practicing Counting by 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, and 10s


We practiced counting wagons in the caravan by 1s, 2s, 5s, and 10s. (This is part of the {free} Oregon trail Skip Counting File Folder Game)

Square Dancing for Kids

Square Dancing as part of hands on westward expansion homeschool history unit
The kids and I learned a little square dancing and had fun dancing together!

Wonderful Oregon Trail Books to Read


Westward Expansion - FUN hands on history unit for kids with lesson plans, educational activities, FREE worksheets and more for preschool, kindergarten, first grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade students studying gold rush, oregon, trail, wild west, railroad, louisiana purchase #westwardexpansion #historyforkids #homeschool
There is so much more to the wild west than just cowboys, Indians, covered wagons, and dust bowls. See the rest of our westward expansion activities with everything you need to make history come alive for your elementary age kids! See the rest of our unit here:
  • Lewis and clark for kids – Start out the way with wild west did with the journey of Louis and Clark after the Lousiana Purchase in 1803.
  • Oregon Train for Kids – learn about the dangerous Oregon Trail and make a salt dough map, covered wagon model, and learn how hard life was for settlers traveling west.
  • Pony Express for Kids plus the gold rush and first transcontinental rail road are just a few of the fun topics explores in this final week of our wild west for kids unit!
  • Free Wild West Worksheets – over 70 pages of math and liteacy skills for kids 2-7 years old with a fun cowboy theme! Perfect to do alongside this history lesson and to keep younger siblings engaged at the same time
  • Oregon Trail Skip Counting Game allows children to practice skip counting with a fun themed activity
  • Dig in to history with this engaging, Wild West History Sensory Bin ideas
  • Geography is Fun with a Salt Dough Map – learn about US geography and features as you mark the path the westward travelers took

Vikings for Kid s- this is a fun hands on history unit that will help make history come alive including history activities, history crafts, free history printables and more for learning about early explorers #vikings #history #homeschooling Native Americans Plains Tribes Lesson civil war for kids free printable board game

History Lessons for Kids

Check out one of or MANY engaging, Free history lessons for kids

  • Explore American History for kids including lots of fun, hands on activities and free printables
  • Dive into Mesopotamia History to learn about Gilgamesh
  • 4 week lesson about Early Explorers for Kids
  • Learn about castles, knights, and more in this exciting Middle Ages for Kids
  • Make a teepee, dig for arrowheads, color our printable books and more in this Native Americans for Kids lessons
  • The Colonial America for Kids lesson takes kids on a journey back to the first permanent settlement in America – Jamestown. Students will learn about colonial life with lots of hands on projects like eating Gruel, making a Wattle & Daub house, and creating a tin lantern will make the settlement come alive.
  • We will make westward expansion for kids come alive for kids as they learn facts about the time period from about 1783-1898. In addition to learning about the Oregon trail, pony express, gold rush, transcontinental railroad, students will also learn to match animal trails, map the united states, and learn about North American animals too.
  • Civil War for Kids – students will learn about slavery, famous Americans from the Civil War, famous battles, and how our nation stayed together. Lesson includes printable worksheets, mapping activities, printable civil war board game and more!

16 Printable Country Studies for Kids - children will have fun learning about countries around the world with this fun resource perfect for pre k, kindergarten, grade 1, grade 2, grade 3, grade 4, grade 5, and grade 6 including Kenya, Japan, Russia, Sweden, Netherlands, Mexico, China, Philippines, Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Chile, Colombia, Australia, and Costa Rica. FREE Printable 50 Us States coloring pages Kids will have fun learning about Children Around the World using these free printable worksheets for kids of all ages. #childrenaroundtheworld #christmasaroundtheworld #geography

Looking for more resources and free worksheets to teach students about geography for kids? You will love these coloring sheets, printable maps, books, activities and games:

About the author

Beth Gorden

Beth Gorden is the creative multi-tasking creator of 123 Homeschool 4 Me. As a busy homeschooling mother of six, she strives to create hands-on learning activities and worksheets that kids will love to make learning FUN! She has created over 1 million pages of printables to help teach kids ABCs, science, English grammar, history, math, and so much more! Beth is also the creator of 2 additional sites with even more educational activities and FREE printables - www.kindergartenworksheetsandgames.com and www.preschoolplayandlearn.com


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