4th-grade students at Elkhorn’s West Bay elementary have a new appreciation for the lives that early Nebraskan pioneers lived after their study of Nebraska History came to an end recently.

As part of their social studies curriculum, students were able to experience life on the trail as they created mock families, “shopped” for supplies they might need along the way, and began their journey by reading “Across the Wide and Lonesome Trail, the Oregon Trail Diary of Hattie Cambell”.   Throughout the book, the author talks about her life experiences, and students at West Bay make them part of their own adventure. As Hattie’s family members experienced different situations throughout the book, the mock family members in the classroom experienced them as well.

Throughout their lessons and “travel”, students were asked to journal about landmarks the early pioneers would have seen, including Chimney Rock, Fort Kearney, and the Platte River.  Included in their study was a lesson on building a covered wagon, which students then have a chance to forge across the Platte River to test its river-worthiness.  Students also transformed their classroom environment as their desks took on the look of student-created covered wagons!

West Bay 4th grade teacher Cheera Hibbard states, “It’s definitely a student favorite and one of the times in the year that the kids beg for Social Studies to begin!”