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The Oregon Trail


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Table of Contents



Introduction: The Journey Begins

Paint the Oregon Trail

Chapter 1: A Land Deal

Examine the Words of Thomas Jefferson

Write a Treaty

How Did the Louisiana Purchase Change America?

Mapping the Changes of the United States

Where in the World Are You?

Exploring the Monroe Doctrine and Manifest Destiny

Chapter 2: Exploring the West

Preserving Plants

Mapping Lewis and Clark and the Overland Astorians

Create a Storyboard of Sacagawea's Life

Chapter 3: New Beginnings

Keep a Journal

Political Cartooning

Write a Letter

Create a Newspaper

Chapter 4: Life on the Trail

Water Purification

Drying Fruit

Packing for a Trip

Making Moccasins

Chapter 5: The End of the Trail



Build a Fort

Chapter 6: The Transcontinental Railroad

Through the Eyes of a Native American Teen

Where Do You Come From?

Reporting on the Transcontinental Railroad

Mapping the Railroads



Essential Questions


Promotional Information

*$40,000 marketing and publicity budget (for series)
*Exhibiting at national and regional conferences including:
*American Library Association (ALA: 60,000 members)
*National Science Teacher Association/STEM (NSTA: 60,000 members)
*American Association of School Librarians (AASL: 10,000 members)
*Public Library Association (PLA: 11,000 members)
*Texas Library Association (TLA: 7,000 members)
*National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS: 25,000 members)
*International Literacy Association (ILA: 60,000 members)
*Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE: 40,000 members)
*Advertising in the following publications: SLJ display ads (3-4 times for series)
*Booklist/Booklinks display ads (3-4 times)
*Booklist/Booklinks online ads Follett Library Ingram (Children's Advance 2 times)
*Baker & Taylor (Growing Minds)
*Publicity and promotion in conjunction with the author's speaking engagements at bookstores, libraries, schools, museums, events, and conferences Extensive social media outreach via Facebook (, Twitter (@Gibson4writing), author's website (, blog ( and Pinterest, Instagram, Goodreads, LinkedIn.

About the Author

Karen Bush Gibson is the author of more than 30 nonfiction books for children and a member of the Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators. One of her books about women aviators was named a 2014 Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People by the NCSS and a selection in Air & Space/Smithsonian's Best Children's Books of 2013 roundup of aviation and space-themed books. Karen lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Tom Casteel is an illustrator and cartoonist with a master's degree from the Center for Cartoon Studies. Tom has illustrated several books for Nomad Press, including The Brain: Journey Through the Universe Inside Your Head; Cities: Discover How They Work; and Human Migration: Investigate the Global Journey of Humankind. Tom lives in South Bend, Indiana.


School Library Journal

This interactive survey of 19th-century American history focuses on westward expansion from early exploration to the realities of life on the Oregon Trail to the effects on native peoples and the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. Amply illustrated with cartoons and photographs, the text is kid-friendly with helpful insets that define new vocabulary as it occurs. Other insets provide supplemental information including passages from letters and journals, accounts of real families, essential questions to ponder, and QR codes that link to relevant web pages, many of them containing primary sources. Each chapter ends with activities that invite readers to delve deeper into the material or to put themselves in the shoes of early Americans. The language of some of the primary documents will be difficult for elementary schoolers and some things could use further explanation. Overall, however, the activities are thought-provoking and web links enrich the material covered. While not necessarily a book children will read from cover to cover, this is a valuable springboard for classroom teachers looking to bring immediacy to American history units and research projects. Additional Resources. Glossary. Index. Recommended

Always in the Middle

The Oregon Trail is a superb addition to anyone's historical non-fiction library shelf. Never boring and always fascinating, jump on board the next wagon and enjoy the ride.

Reviews for other titles in the series: Great Pioneer Projects: You Can Build Yourself.
Learning Magazine, Teachers' Choice Edition: "What was it like to be an American pioneer during the 1800s? More than 25 projects and activities in this book give students and first-hand look."

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