The Oregon Trail

Common Sense Media says

Relive history by managing a family's wagon trip out west.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Ease of play

The controls and simple and intuitive.

Violence

You will shoot animals as part of a hunting minigame. When shot, the animals jump up and fall down as a drumstick. There is no blood.

Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

Kids can get "cash" using real cash via in-app purchase. It's possible to enjoy playing without paying if you're patient, but it is more difficult to be competitive in the game.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Oregon Trail is an educational simulation game about what it was like to be a pioneer traveling west in the 1800s. It includes in-app purchases that are required to get the most out of the game. You join a historic wagon train traveling westward from Missouri to Oregon and make all the decisions during the trip, including when to rest, what route to take, and what supplies to bring. In the process of traveling across the country, you can talk to characters and play eight fun mini-games that make great use of the device's touch screen and its motion sensors. This app is based on the classic PC simulation game The Oregon Trail, which was popular in classrooms from the 1970s to the present. It has a mini-game about hunting game for food where you shoot cute animals by tapping them with your finger. When you hit them, they jump up and then are replaced with a drumstick. There is no blood shown. Characters can die in the game, including members of your family.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Social Studies

  • citizenship
  • cultural understanding
  • history

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • decision-making

Emotional Development

  • developing resilience

Responsibility & Ethics

  • learning from consequences

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

A highly polished simulation game that's easy to play, a delight to look at, and offers hours of engrossing gameplay. Eight mini-games help keep gameplay fresh.

Learning Approach

Role-play actively engages kids, and adaptive gameplay shows them the consequences of their choices. Some of the learning is layered on top, and the game lacks a diversity of perspectives on historical events.

Support

Tips and guidance are all in text, making gameplay less accessible to some kids. The official game website can give ideas on connecting gameplay to curriculum goals.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Social Studies

  • citizenship
  • cultural understanding
  • history

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • decision-making

Emotional Development

  • developing resilience

Responsibility & Ethics

  • learning from consequences

Kids can learn about the history of the American westward expansion of the 1800s by participating in this adventure simulation from the point of view of a pioneer family traveling by wagon train from Missouri to Oregon. Kids learn interesting historical facts about life on the road, such as what pioneers ate for breakfast and what materials they used to repair their wagons. Kids also make decisions about how to deal with emergencies such as illness and hunger. The Oregon Trail offers lessons not just in history, but also in resiliency and decision-making.

This Learning Rating review was written by Erin Bell

Parents say

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Kids say

What's it about?

Kids playing The Oregon Trail guide a wagon trail of settlers west across the American frontier by tapping the screen to interact with buttons and menus. Kids respond to random events such as sick family members, manage supplies and money, and decide how fast to go and which routes to take. Decisions have permanent consequences that affect whether the wagon train makes it to Oregon. Players “win” if the settlers complete the journey.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

The Oregon Trail is a highly polished simulation game that's easy to play, a delight to look at, and offers hours of gameplay. The game's submenus drop down from the top of the screen, allowing kids to make decisions easily. Interesting characters to talk fill this world and some are famous including a young Custer and Samuel Morse. Many of these characters offer you extra quests. The integration of the eight mini-games also helps to keep the gameplay fresh. Some involve timing your touches to do something like hammering a nail to fix the wagon or shooting an animal. While others involve rotating the device to use the accelerometer to accomplish things like panning for gold.

The biggest disappointment about The Oregon Trail is the addition of in-app purchases. It feels particularly greedy because it's difficult to be competitive without making a purchase -- it doesn't truly feel optional. Other than that, The Oregon Trail is a great way to bring history alive; and it offers a lot of depth, clocking in at two to three hours per game.

Families can talk about...

  • Steer kids toward other media (such as art, books, and movies) exploring the American westward expansion.

  • Tour a historical museum or, if you live near one, a local pioneer village.

App details

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire
Price:$.99
Pricing structure:Paid
Release date:January 25, 2010
Category:Educational Games
Publisher:Gameloft
Version:1.7.4
Minimum software requirements:iOS 2.2.1 or later, Android 2.1 or later

This review of The Oregon Trail was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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Kid, 11 years old March 9, 2011
AGE
7
QUALITY
 

have to read

easy gets boring after a while
Teen, 13 years old Written byBluegillkid February 3, 2011
AGE
5
QUALITY
 

TO EASY

It is far to short I beat it 5 times in a week
What other families should know
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