These resources listed here are suitable for learners of all ages, but some are specifically designed for elementary and middle school students.
In Pursuit of a Dream
This multiple award-winning film shows modern teenagers learning firsthand what it was like to be an emigrant traveling West on a wagon train.
What would it be like to go back in time (with no cell phones, IM’ing, Twitter and Facebook or running water for that matter) and travel across the country just like the pioneers did. That’s what 24 kids from across the US, (some who had never been out of their home town EVER), did for their summer vacation. Led by three amazing teachers these new age “emigrants” trekked through Wyoming and north to Oregon on a once-in-a-lifetime journey that challenged even the toughest in the group.
They traded their modern conveniences for long dresses and overalls, loaded their wagons and took off for adventure on the Oregon and California Trails. Along the way they met gold seekers, scoundrels and natives. And while they learned about what made us a great nation as we moved west, they also learned about themselves and how the decisions they made could have serious and unexpected consequences for their group. Some made it, others did not. Join these kids in this 83 minute-long drama as they are challenged to find the right direction, “In Pursuit of a Dream”.
America's westward march has been captured in OCTA's four educational Activity Books. They are appropriate for use at the middle and high school level, and parts may be adapted for use in lower levels.
Reading, Writing and Riding Along the Oregon-California Trails (An Educational Activity Book), by William E. Hill
Finding the Right Place: The Story of the Mormon Trail (An Educational Activity Book), by William E. Hill
Following Lewis and Clark's Track: The Story of the Corps of Discovery (An Educational Activity Book), by William E. Hill
Lesson Plans & Units
Selecting Gear and Starting Out
Encounters Between Native Americans and Oregon-California Trail Pioneers, Including Emigrants from Ohio
Who Were the Buckeye Rovers?
West In a Wagon Train: Three Questions
America's Westward Movement
Road to Oregon
PowerPoint overview presentations designed for elementary students.
The Oregon Trail (English)
The Oregon Trail (Spanish)
The Lewis & Clark Trail (English)
The Lewis & Clark Trail (Spanish)
Westward Expansion Maps
Reading & Reference
- Overlanders in the Columbia River Gorge, 1840–1870: A Narrative History, completed by Historical Research Associates, Inc., September 2020
- Elementary Reading: Lewis & Clark
- Recommended Oregon Trail Books for Students, An Annotated Bibliography
- Elementary Reading: Oregon Trail
- Barlow Road Guidebook
- National Park Service - California National Historic Trail
- Cherokee Trail
- Historic Trails of the Western United States (OCTA's full color map - flat)
- Historic Trails of the Western United States (OCTA's full color map - folded)
- National Park Service - National Trails Intermountain Region
- National Park Service - Oregon National Historic Trail
- Wyoming Trail