How I Use It
"A player can choose one of three different wagons: A basic wagon, a prairie schooner or a Conestoga Wagon. The player can also choose to become a banker, a carpenter, or a farmer, each of which has unique benefits. It would be great to have different students select different combinations and track what worked and what didn't.
Providing students with a tracking sheet for the medicine, goods, food and other game items is one way to have them think more about the choices they make as they move along the trail. A writing activity where students journal the trip from a certain point of view could draw on these tracking sheets providing evidence of success and/or failure.
The need to keep the wagon healthy, the food supply stocked and the health of the family positive all force students to think carefully about each selection. Discussion about the need for balance and how choices of the past may differ from choices today will help students understand how times change, but there continues to be a need for balance to be successful."
"The Oregon Trail app is an engaging way to have students extend thinking about westward travel of the past. The app is very gamelike, which will appeal to students. Use of Oregon Trail would be great as an activator prior to a unit on westward travel of pioneers. Students would also enjoy using the app during a unit on the topic, as they will be able to “identify” better with the pioneers with more exposure to the ups and downs of the trip.
I liked the thinking that students must do when choosing a wagon type and character type at the outset of the trip. It is also fun that students can personalize the names of the travelers. Initially, and along the way, the app provides a guide to help students learn what to do as they move their wagon and family along the Oregon Trail. The guide is helpful, however students may become frustrated with the constant stopping and reading of directions to move on.
There are 5 levels of play, with 3 levels being available right away. The Very Hard and Extra Hard levels need to be unlocked."