Lesson Plans

Lessons By Chapter

Chapter One: 

  1. Find Springfield, Illinois on the map. 
  2. Trace how you would travel out west to California. How long would it take by car? How long would it take by making 20 miles a day? 
  3. Why were the Reeds planning to move? What is the difference between a territory and a state?
  4. Why wasn’t California a state? Who lived in the California territory? 

Chapter Two:

  1. What would you pack to take to a new home? 
  2. Looking at the supplies they took, would that be enough for you? 
  3. How big do you suppose a wagon is? What would your wagon hold? 
  4. How did they pack their food? Where would they get fresh vegetables, fruits, meats and milk? 

Chapter Three

  1. What was early life like on the trail? 
  2. What foods did they collect and eat? Could you eat those foods? 
  3. What happened when they saw Indians? 
  4. What was Fort Laramie like? 

Chapter Four:

  1.  What difficulties were there on the trail? 
  2. Was time an important factor in their travels? 
  3. Would you have done anything different if you had been traveling on the trail? 

Chapter Five:

  1. Who was Lansford Hasting and what was his Doctrine? 
  2. Was the idea of a shortcut a good one? Why or why not? 
  3. What is the Continental Divide? 
  4. What was Fort Bridger like? 
  5. What types of countryside and weather did the Donner Party encounter. Were they prepared? 
  6. How difficult did the trail become? 
  7. What was the worst part of the trail? What would have been most difficult for you? 
  8. How did they survive once they were snowed in? Would you have tried to snow shoe out or stayed in the make shift cabin? 
  9. Were you surprised by who survived and who did not? 
  10. What lessons of life have you learned?