Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Heading West!

In social studies, we've been working on a Westward Expansion unit.  It's been a lot of fun already!  I based our unit on a webquest I found on  Zunal is the BEST place to find webquests!  You can search for any topic, browse by subject, or view by grade level.  It's great, and all of the webquests are easy to follow.

Here's the webquest we've been using: What Life Was Like for a Pioneer

I mixed up the order a little bit.  We did Step 1 (choosing a wagon and drawing a picture of your "family" with your wagon and animals) first, then went on to Step 3 (packing your wagon).  My students have loved Step 3!  I set up a folder on my PortaPortal site for Westward Expansion, which included a wagon PowerPoint and a link to lots of Pioneer Pictures.  The students had to visit the General Store in Step 3 and select items to take with them on the trail.  Each group had a weight limit of 1500lbs, so there were some math skills involved, too!  They had the most trouble selecting enough food.  I had a group with 3 feather mattresses, 6 lanterns, and 4 coffee grinders, but only 100 lbs of bacon and some fresh fruit. We talked in length about HOW LONG the journey was and HOW LITTLE they could get from the trail.  It's hard for them to imagine a world with no Walmart.  They also thought they could just hunt for all their food, so we had some discussions about nutrition and geography (they'd have to travel through prairie, desert, and mountains).

Once their lists were approved, they had to find pictures of EVERY item on their list and add it to their "wagon" on PowerPoint.  Several of them had trouble fitting everything in, which was sort of the point.  That wagon with 3 feather mattresses didn't have a lot of room, but it would be a nice, comfy journey to the West!

I'll post some pictures tomorrow of their wagon presentations.


Wanted to mention that I've joined the upper elementary linky party over at Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies!


  1. I'm glad I found your blog, and I'm your newest follower! I'd love it if you'd stop by my blog if you can.

  2. Thanks for joining my linky! I'm your newest follower!Love your blog!
    Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies

  3. I found you through the linky and am so glad I did! What a great resource!! I will be exploring this some more tomorrow as my students are heading off on a pirate adventure.

    Think, Wonder, & Teach

  4. Just started following you. I'm a first-year 5th grade teacher too! I look forward to reading about your adventures!

  5. Found you from the linky party! I am your newest follower! :)

    Adventures of a Third Grade Teacher

  6. Just found your blog on the linky party...I look forward to "stalking" you!

  7. Just found your blog and I'm your newest member!

  8. Found you through the linky party! I love your Pioneer life ideas!! So much fun, and great thinking skills!

    I love the summer countdown clock!! So fun!! And I love Nicholas Sparks books, I am reading The Best of Me right now! :)
    I'm a new follower!

    3rd Grade Times

  9. Ah! A fellow 5th grade teacher! I'm your newest follower and look forward to following your blog. :)

    Loose Shoelaces

  10. Found you through the linky and I'm your newest follower! I love your blog!

    Living A Wonderful Life

  11. Found your blog through the Linky Party. Good to find another MO blogger. My co blogger and I are also eMINTS people. (I am submitting my lesson plan here in a few weeks.) Looking forward to reading your posts!


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  13. Love your blog! I found you through Linky Party. I am your newest follower. I hope you can stop by my blog and maybe become my newest follower.

    Mrs. B