Not only are the covers of these journals creative, but my students’ writing blew me away!  They really jumped into the 1840’s and wrote with incredible feelings.  I actually found myself smiling, laughing, and even tearing up while reading them.  They know how to touch my heart!



Start off with a read aloud like, Dear Levi:  Letters from the Overland Trail by Elvira Woodruff.

Other books great for Westward Expansion are found HERE!



Then brainstorm things that happen on the Oregon Trails:  hardships, friendships, and people/plants/animals that you encounter along the trail.



Give them expectations.

  1.  Make sure the journal entries are scattered across a 4-6 month span. (How long it took to travel)
  2.  Put a realistic date from that time on each journal entry.
  3.  Explain how many things from the brainstorm list you would like to see covered.
  4.  Let students know if you expect complete sentences and proper CUPS (capitalization, usage, punctuation, spelling)


It is finally time to decorate the cover and start writing! Here are samples from my class:

He wanted to make sure it looked dirty from the trail.  Love it!
These are wrinkled and the one on the right is even torn so it could look more realistic.

I loved this one!  They got ahold of the feathers, yarn and beads that we used when making dream catchers in another unit so I allowed it.  Why not?  Creativity was busting out the seams!  This student took her booklet, folded and tied it.  It may not be the neatest or most colorful, but her description of what each thing was for was precious!

I was so happy to even see my nonwriters excited about writing. Some of my most reluctant writers were writing like crazy!
If you want the directions, a list of ideas to include in writing, what to do for each entry, and a rubric already prepped and ready, click below.

  Going West Journal in Rockin Resource Store

Are you looking for a full unit for Westward Expansion?