Oregon Trail Unit Plan

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

The Oregon Trail describes the routes American settlers took as the United States expanded westward. This unit plan supports middle school instruction about the Oregon Trail.

The Oregon Trail

In the early 1800s, the boundaries of the United States underwent some major changes. Hundreds of thousands of American citizens began their trek from Louisiana Territory to the West Coast by wagon in what became known as the Oregon Trail. This unit plan provides a guide for building an instructional segment about the Oregon Trail.


To prepare students for learning about the Oregon Trail, students should have some back ground in westward expansion. The Westward Expansion Lesson Plan will help students understand the westward expansion and the life of a pioneer. This resource includes a video lesson about pioneers followed by a research activity and a presentation. Students may extend their thinking through a pioneer day role-playing activity.


The Oregon Trail Lesson Plan helps students understand why the Oregon Trail is important, as well as the routes and experiences of the settlers who traveled the Oregon Trail. Students will watch a video lesson, identify the Oregon Trail on a map, and engage in discussions about how migration impacted the settlers and the indigenous people in that area.

As students learn about westward expansion, the Manifest Destiny Activities will help students understand the philosophical beliefs that contributed to the decision to expand. Students may choose from technology, art, or collaborative activities that help them learn about the Manifest Destiny philosophy and its consequences.

The American West Lesson Plan provides additional information about the pioneers' motivation to settle the West and what daily life was like for these Americans. Students will read a text lesson, engage in a class discussion, and work collaboratively to create a journal from the perspective of a settler on the Oregon Trail.

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