Westward Expansion

The great worldwide migration of the 1840's thru the 1850's, right up to the American Civil War, was a period of national unrest and dislocation for hundreds of families seeking a better life. With the aide of over thirty model wagons this workshop puts designated 'family' teams of students right into the heart of westward expansion. Much like the Oregon Trail computer program in educational thrust, this workshop is all hands- on, requiring each family to bring its wealth to an embarkation site in the mid west, purchase, construct, and load up a wagon for a trip to the west coast. Over a dozen wagons are over two feet long and require assembling and stocking of materials, both essentials and items of choice. Once the wagon train is assembled, the wagon drill is practiced, and the domestic animals cared for, each family, with all its possessions, must traverse the course of trials and obstacles. Rivers must be crossed, animals must be cared for, fed, and sometimes hunted. Injuries and deaths occur in all different and unexpected ways. Prairies and mountains, deserts and bad lands all must be successfully traversed. Families must be smart and brave at the same time. This two hour workshop puts students to the test as to whether or not they have the right stuff to make a continental crossing. It is engaging, challenging, uplifting, and fun.

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