Monday, September 10, 2012

The History of the Oregon Trail and the Pony Express (Schoolhouse Review)


The History of the Oregon Trail and the Pony Express DVD, sold by Marshall Publishing ($19.95), is a 50 minute video for students (and adults) 4th grade and up.

The videos used footage of well known landmarks on the Oregon trail, beautiful films of the landscape, and photos of art and sculpture that depicted the travelers. The narration was informative, explaining the varied reasons that travelers made the difficult trip west, such as mission work, religious freedom (Mormans), lust for gold, and the desire for land and a better life. Narration by “travelers” was included, which I assume came from diaries and added a personal touch. 

A few years ago, we took a trip west, following much of the Oregon trail. The films reminded me of the landscape and landmarks that we visited on our trip. Emily was only three, but remembers bits of the vacation, and was interested to hear that we saw this or that landmark that was shown on the video. I think she does remember a museum in Independence, MO, where the kids got to actually pack a wagon with the necessities for the trip.

We’re hoping to make a similar trip in the next year, so we anticipated that as we watched, too.

Although I knew basic facts about the Pony Express, the video brought it to life for me, teaching about the individual men who birthed the idea and their successes and failures in its implementation. It was such a short blip (19 months) in our country’s history, but one that captures our imagination.

Since these were basically  documentaries, I can’t say that Emily found them exciting to watch, but I thought that they were very well done and we both learned a  lot.

Discussion and activity questions and research activities are available for both before and after viewing to enhance the learning experience of this DVD. We looked at a topographical map to guess the route of the Oregon Trail before we watched, then compared our guess to the actual route. There are also some diary writing suggestions and research ideas to further delve into the topic.

Note: I had some trouble getting the DVD to play on either of my DVD players. I contacted customer service and they responded quickly to send me a replacement DVD. The second one didn’t work either, so I can only assume that there was some sort of format incompatibility. I was assured by Marshall Publishing that this was not a common occurrence. We were able to view it with no problems on our computer.

The History of the Oregon Trail and the Pony Express DVD sells for $19.95. Use t”he code, “TOS27” to receive free shipping! Marshall Publishing also produces many other DVD’s for various ages, several of which were reviewed by other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received  this DVD  free in order to write this review. All opinions are my own. 


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