The adventure began by traveling to History Park San Jose! We learned about public transportation and practiced some of our social skills and manners while we rode the bus to the park. The students did an excellent job of using quiet voices in a confined public space to be respectful of others around them. Some even demonstrated higher level social skills by offering their seats to other community members who joined us on the bus, and by allowing others to exit or enter the bus before they did. This started us off on the right foot!
When we arrived at the park, we were greeted by docents dressed in period clothes. They guided us to the stable where the students sat on hale bales and learned about the options travelers had in terms of paths to California and Oregon. They also discussed the challenges that faces these settlers, what supplies they needed to make the successful journey and how they navigated using major landmarks and geographical features.
The students were then broken into groups and rotated through stations that continued to teach them about Westward Expansion and helped students empathize with the challenges involved. One station had students select specific jobs for their wagon train party and decide on what to pack for the journey. The group then formed an assembly line and loaded, organized and unloaded the wagon so that they could discuss the importance of each of these decisions. Another station allowed the students to view and study different furs and artifacts relevant to the time and location. They had to discuss them and brainstorm together what they thought the items were. The last station had the students work together to make a nutritious snack packed with vitamin C to keep the party members healthy along the trail. They also got the chance to play some games that children would have played during the journey, such as Marbles and hoop races.
The students learned a lot and really enjoyed the snacks!