When I picture great teaching I see students engaged and excited. Each year our fifth graders participate in a simulation of the Oregon Trail. They take on the personalities of real people from this time period. Primary sources including real journal entries have been used to create the simulation. Students are placed in wagon families and face the many “fates” that come as they travel west. Prior to traveling west they create a budget and decide as families what to bring. The groups must work together to overcome many challenges along the trail. Students use a blog to write journal entries about their experiences (http://kidblog.org/WagonsWest) and take part in a hoedown where they hear stories, dance, sample foods and play instruments. Learning in an engaging, hands-on simulation provide students with an appreciation of history. It’s an experience they remember long after leaving the classroom.