I will be the first to admit that I was never a history buff, so teaching history means learning right along with my kids. We studied the Westward Expansion last year and used these free printables and unit studies about The Pony Express.
The Westward Expansion in brief:
Westward expansion occurred in the 19th Century where a movement of settlers migrated to the American West following the Louisiana Purchase. The motivating factors were the Gold Rush, the Oregon Trail, owning land in the west, opportunities in the cattle industry, and the belief of manifest destiny to name a few – (Manifest destiny, an idea to expand settlement throughout North America).
Here comes The Pony Express:
The Pony Express is one of the most notable marks of Westward Expansion in the United States.
This system was an actual mail delivery service made of men riding horses from Missouri and California. Because of the Pony Express, mail could be delivered to California in about 9 to 10 days.
So, the Pony Express used a planned route where riders carried mail from station to station. At each station, the mail carriers would switch to fresh horses and every hundred or so miles, the riders would be replaced. This meant the speed was kept steady across every route.
The route was 1,900 miles, and there were 184 stations in between. It stretched over the Rocky Mountains, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and eventually, to California.
Before the Pony Express, there were several ways kids got mail.
1- The most popular way to send mail was by ship from the New York ports across the Isthmus of Panama by mule, and this was followed by another ship to San Francisco. This took months.
2- Others used covered wagons and stagecoaches from Missouri to California. This method took about 25 days.
3- There was a third route that went on the southern route to the West Coast called the Butterfield Overland Mail Company. This was also about 25 days.
Of course, when the Civil War was approaching, people needed quicker mail service for communication, and the settlements across the westward areas had a growing demand for faster service, and the Pony Express was born.
The Pony Express didn’t last very long, but it was a key factor in growing communication across America.
Explore these free printables and unit studies about the Pony Express:
5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Pony Express | We Are the Mighty
FREE Pony Express Notebooking Page | Homeschool Helper Online
Pony Express, California Gold Rush, & Transcontinental Railroad for Kids FREE Resources | 123 Homeschool 4 Me
FREE Resources for Kids – Pony Express (Western Expansion) | Mr. Donn.com
We Were There with the Pony Express Unit | Homeschool on the Range
The Pony Express FREE Unit Study | Simply Necessary
(FREE) The Pony Express: A Unit Study | DIY Homeschooler
History: Pony Express FREE Quiz | Ducksters
The Pony Express | Social Studies For Kids
History of The Pony Express | History for kids
Pony Express Facts for Kids | American History for Kids
10 Things You May Not Know About the Pony Express | History.com
The Pony Express Lasted Only 18 Months | National Geographic
Pony Express History | America Comes Alive
The Pony Express: A History Just for Kids! | Love Reading 4 Kids
FREE The Pony Express – Mini Unit Study | Easy Fun School
Check out this list of books from your local library all about the Pony Express:
Cowboys, Indians, the Pony Express and the Wild Wild West Library Books | Farm Fresh Adventures
Pony Express History Children’s Books to Check out at the Library | The Best Children’s Books
Simple but fun crafts and activities to add to your Pony Express lessons:
10 Westward Expansion Hands-on History Activities | Tina’s Dynamic Homeschool plus
FREE Pony Express Coloring Page | Raising Our Kids
Hobby Horse Craft |Messy Little Monster
D.I.Y. Horse Silhouette Jar | Thoughtful DIY Creations
Kid’s Horse Craft Made from a Wrapping Paper Tube | Crafty Morning
Videos to watch about the Pony Express for your visual learners:
All About the Pony Express – SPIRIT COMES TO LIFE | DreamWorks Spirit
A Kid Explains the Pony Express | A Kid Explains History
Pony Express for Kids | Bedtime History
Here are some cool facts about The Pony Express that your kids (and you) may find interesting:
- Riders had to be 125 lbs or less in order to not stress the horses.
- Buffalo Bill was a Pony Express rider and became famous as he put on his famous Wild West Shows.
- Only one rider and one shipment was ever lost during the entirety of the Pony Express (April 3, 1860 to October 24, 1861 – I guess one person isn’t that bad ~ insert sarcasm).
- Riders traveled 75 to 100 miles per day, and their horses would be switched every 10 to 12 miles as mentioned above.
- The very fastest delivery was 7 days and 17 hours to deliver President Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural address.
Here are some resources in the event you want to complete the Westward Expansion unit:
Westward Expansion Writing Activities | In All You Do
FREE Westward Expansion Emergent Readers | In All You Do
Teaching Westward Expansion and the Pioneers Fun Ideas | Literacy Math Ideas
U.S. History: Westward Expansion | Education.com
Studying Westward expansion is learning an important part of American History. It is how people first settled into more and more places of North America.
Some things about expansion westward were tough, and the history wasn’t all pleasant, to say the least. There were also clear negatives to westward expansion, but nonetheless, it is a critical part of American history, and the Pony Express was an integral part of it.
Jeannette is a wife, mother and homeschooling mom. She has been mightily, saved by grace and is grateful for God’s sovereignty throughout her life’s journey. She has a Bachelor in English Education and her MBA. Jeannette is bi-lingual and currently lives in the Tongan Islands of the South Pacific. She posts daily freebies for homeschoolers!