With the discovery of the South Pass by whites (natives, of course, had known the way for generations), the Oregon Territory became open to a flood of settlement by Americans seeking land in the West. To get there, however, these “Pioneers” needed to navigate 2,000 miles of often hostile terrain. It is estimated that the graves of nearly 10% of those who tried dot the path of the Oregon Trail.
This simple yet highly engaging board game is designed to entertain and teach students about the hardships and dangers faced by the Pioneers as they traveled westward towards their future homes. Players battle the elements, disease, and bad luck as they try to make it safe and sound to Oregon. As they do so, they are required to read information cards about the journey, reinforcing learning while they have fun. Think of this activity as a board game version of the classic Oregon Trail video game.
Students play against each other in small groups of 4-5 students. The game is simple to set up, instruct and play, and students immediately become engaged in competing with each other to become the first to make it to Oregon. Be prepared for noise!
* game board
* 32 play cards
Materials are provided as word documents and PDFs in one zip file.
You will need to provide a die and game markers for each group playing the game, and there is some setup time (about 30 minutes) in preparing the game board and the play cards for each group. I’ve played this game in my 8th grade class for years, and it never fails to be a big hit.
This activity is part of a complete and comprehensive unit
on the Westward continental expansion of the United States from 1783 to 1848.
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