The Oregon trail was a stagecoach wagon trail that took thousands of Americans west during the 19th century. This trail became extremely popular in the 1860s, as a means to move Americans westward to California and Oregon for new lands and new opportunities. It is only appropriate that an elementary school skit would pay homage to this memorable period of American history in a humorous way.
This Journey Won’t Be Easy!
A great primary skit could open on a poor farm somewhere in the midwest. A struggling farmer, working hard to pay his bills and make a living, looks up and outward, looking west symbolically. The farmer could then drive into town to get supplies and see an advertisement for free land in California and Oregon. Excited, he could return home and discuss a plan to move westward with his family. While at first he seems excited and confident that this journey will be simple and easy, he will be shocked when he finds out all the hard work he will need to put in to begin the journey.
I Bought The Wrong Items!
As this skit progressed, it could teach elementary students a great deal about American history in each scene. For example, the next scene could feature the farmer and his family developing a list of supplies necessary to undergo this three month journey, and then saving up money to purchase these supplies. Besides the wagon itself, farmers needed spare axles, extra wheels, a great amount of wood and water, and countless other items to make their journey a reality. This skit could be made comical by having a situation where the husband told his wife to by some items, and she got the names confused, causing mishap along the journey. For example, instead of buying sacks of rice, maybe she accidentally bought a sack of mice.
We Run The Wilderness!
The skit could continue with the establishment of a wagon train and the beginning of the journey. Many wagon families did not begin the journey alone; they would form wagon teams with a number of other families heading westward. They would even devise bylaws and a constitution to live by as the group proceeded through the wilderness, in an attempt to maintain order and civility in the wilderness. In the skit, some of the bylaws created could be ridiculous, overly specific, and over the top. For example, one bylaw could state that each day will begin precisely at 6:00 am on the button, even though a number of factors would occur on the trail that could not be predicted and planned for beforehand.
We Settled The Wrong Area!
The journey could continue with a splintering of our hapless farmer family from the main group, a frequent occurrence on the Oregon Trail. However, we could make this humorous by having the farming father terrible with directions. Arriving in Nebraska about a 100 days early, our farmer could proclaim that they made good time and had already arrived in California, even though they are still thousands of miles away. This celebration by the family can be cut short when a passing wagon informs the family that their journey is not even close to over. Frustrated but determined, the family continues on towards California.
These are just a few ways that comedic skits can be combined with factual American history to educate students and entertain the audience. Sometimes the best way to appreciate history is to laugh at it, and these are a few scenes designed specifically for that purpose!