This month, we've been studying the Oregon Trail and the children have been keeping their own historical fiction pioneer journals. As a class, we formed a "wagon train", lead by the brave teacher-captains, Ms. Harrison and Mrs. Maxey. We left our "jumping off" spot in Independence, MO and have so far traveled 550 miles to Chimney Rock. Twice a week, the children write a new journal entry with the topic chosen by the teachers. We've read many information books about pioneers and the Oregon Trail. We've also been following Westward to Home: Joshua's Oregon Trail Diary and Casey's Journey: Going West in the 1860s, two books of historical fiction written from the perspectives of a young children. Below are some excerpts from our pioneer journals. Although it's difficult for my students to understand life without television or computers, to know what's it like to not have much food or money, to have to work hard at chores that simply sustain a family (laundry, hunting, sewing and mending clothing, chopping firewood), they have really put their imaginations into this project.
Today, the wagon train saw a small heard of buffalo! The problem was they also saw us! Those buffalo charged like a bullet. The buffaloes killed two oxen and there were 10 buffalo in the heard and we shot them all.
We are crossing the South Platte River. P.U.!!!! It smells disgusting! We are fording the river. Sam sits in my lap. I sit in mama's lap. It was a good day to cross the river. We didn't lose anything. I am very tired.
Now this is crazy. First I have to wake up early at 6 a.m. Then we have to walk 15 miles. I met the whole wagon train and the captains. They are very nice. I've got a busy schedule (chores, dinner, sleep, breakfast...). My dad wants me for my chores to shoot my pretend arrow at any bird who comes near. Tonight, I sleep under the wagon.
We reached Chimney Rock. When I try to look at it, I almost fall down. Pa says it means we are a quarter of the way to Oregon!
*The wagons in our "wagon train" were made from recycled milk cartons.