I was recently given the opportunity to review a DVD from Marshall Publishing. My choice was the The History of the Oregon Trail and the Pony Express DVD, since it was a topic I was interested in, and I figured there would be lots of horses (my kids are very interested in anything horses).
One DVD contained both programs. The Oregon Trail was 35 minutes long and covered both the history and geography of this famous pioneer trail. Seeing the trail—the ruts where the wagons traveled, the mountain passes, the rivers that had to be crossed—really brought this period of history to life. A narrator told the story of the different groups of pioneers that took to the trail; quotations were also included from a variety of diaries and letters.
The Pony Express was only 16 minutes and covered the brief history of this unique mail service, which lasted only 19 months and totally bankrupted the three men who had started it. It amazed me what a small role this little business had really played and yet, in comparison, how famous it has become!
This was my children’s first introduction to anything on this topic, so understandably much was lost on them. Both of them did pick up on the names of the states that were mentioned throughout the programs, since they’d memorized the names of the states this summer. While my four year old flitted in and out, my first grader followed along quite well, quoting parts of the movie to me that he thought I’d missed or asking questions (lots of questions) about what was said.
Later that week, our town had their annual fall parade that features lots of wagons, tractors, and horses. When my son saw a covered wagon, his eyes lit up and he immediately associated it with the Oregon Trail.
Though my son enjoyed the DVD, I think an older student would definitely get much more from it, and I can’t wait to share these programs with the kids again later after we’ve studied this era in history. The programs were very informative and are a fun way to add variety to the study of history. There is also a study guide available with activities and discussion questions; you can find it on the website underneath the DVD description.
The History of the Oregon Trail and The Pony Express DVD is normally $24.95 but is available for $19.95. Plus, enter the code TOS27 for FREE first class shipping.
Marshall Publishing has a number of other DVDs they have produced. Visit their website to browse all of their products (free shipping code is good on all purchases) or read what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about this and other titles.