Tried It Tuesday: Oregon Trail Journals - Ideas By Jivey: For the Classroom

Tried It Tuesday: Oregon Trail Journals

Hello again, BBBs! I just LOVE Holly's linky party! Have you linked up yet? Join in the fun! (Or at least go read everyone's awesome ideas! My brain was on overload last week with all I wanted to do!!)
This week, I'm going to share something new I am trying this year with Westward Expansion. (Are you sick of hearing about this topic yet?? LOL Hopefully you see how much my social studies is integrated into my language arts based on all of the stuff I've shared for this unit over the last couple of weeks! Integration is the only possible way I can ever get it all in!)

I used our amazing poster maker at school to blow up the map. A friend of mine created the journal entry ideas for each stop along the Oregon Trail, but I had to "cute" them up with frames. (I am not sharing them here though since they aren't my creation, but you can get some GREAT ideas for journal entries from this book if you are interested.
I used it last year and we actually did the simulations, but as I said, they could easily be made into "journal ideas.") At each stop along the way, they "experience" something that would have really happened on the Oregon Trail - fording a river, buying supplies from a fort, people getting sick, seeing landmarks, like Chimney Rock... etc. To give them background information that they can use to write their entries, I'm reading parts of this book to them.
 I read only the parts that are valid for that day's entry- for example, today in their entry, they crossed a river on a ferry so I read to them about that. Then we list the things we think are important to include as a class, and they get busy! :)

Here is a sample of one of my sweet girl's first entry in her journal. The starter said they had arrived in Independence, Missouri and they were waiting on other wagons to come so they could form their wagon train. They were to talk about the things they brought with them, the family that was there, and how they felt about the move:

As any good teacher does, I must reflect on what is working and not working... I love that they are getting background information before writing because I feel like their writing is more authentic. I don't love that I waited until the week before Spring Break to start this. SIGH. We managed to get two entries done today instead of just one, but there won't be enough time to make our whole journey this week. I wish I would have started last week! But, oh well. :)

I hope this post provided you with something you could take away!! I look forward to reading everyone else's Tried It Tuesday posts!


  1. I have used "Daily Life in a Covered Wagon" too. When we take our wagons from the U.S. to our Austin's colony in Texas, I read parts of it. I bet it could double as a mentor text for the Collaboration Cuties mentor text linky. :)


  2. I'M. IN. LOVE! Social Studies is my favorite and I'm all about integrating it. I use that same book for the American Revolution, it's great! Love your blog and ideas! I would love for you to check out my April Monthly Market linky and link up!

    Teaching with a Touch of Twang

  3. I love this idea! Great integration of social studies and language arts.

  4. I love how you integrate your social studies with language arts in so many ways!! I felt the same way about work we were doing before spring break that I couldn't finish up. Then, we have two weeks off and it will be like starting from scratch (not that I am complaining or anything:). Thanks so much for linking up!!
    Fourth Grade Flipper

  5. I wish we studied the Oregon Trail! Your map looks fantastic (I recognize the font!!!) And, the journals...what a great way to integrate writing! Even if you started late, they're getting a wonderful learning experience!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  6. We just started our Westward Expansion unit, and I love all these ideas! I am trying to get organized to figure out how to incorporate so many of the great Oregon Trail ideas I have seen and pace it all. How long do you spend on Westward Expansion? Do you include nonfiction, too? I have seen a ton of great nonfiction books, too.
    ~April Walker
    The Idea Backpack

  7. I love this idea and have thought about journal entries and prompts, but the map with stories is great. I hope your kids love it just as much as I do! :)


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