Grades 3–5

This lesson can be taught in 3–6 class periods

Lesson Introduction:
The focus for students in this age group is on the leadership, courage and challenges faced by the Corps of Discovery. Students will practice their reading comprehension, visual literacy, writing, and map skills throughout the activity.

Before you begin the unit on Lewis & Clark, break the classroom into two groups. Assign each group the background article and one other article—either on President Thomas Jefferson or on the Louisiana Purchase. Direct the students to the articles online or have printouts of the articles for them to read at home.

Begin a discussion about the Lewis & Clark journey by asking students what they learned about the articles they have read over night. As a class, make three lists on the board: Background, President Thomas Jefferson, and the Louisiana Purchase.  Once all the facts are on the board, and students have copied the information into their notebooks, prompt students to synthesize this information. Ask students about what kinds of events prompted the journey, challenges faced by the Corps of Discovery, and leadership skills needed by Lewis and Clark. (See Discussion starters below). Tell students that they will be going on their own journey, following Lewis & Clark and also making virtual visits to the trail today, but first they must prepare for the journey.

Depending on the availability of computers in the classroom, break up students so they can take the interactive quiz on what they would pack for a three-year journey. If computers are not available, you can print this quiz out in advance and have the students complete them offline.

While students are still at their computers, have them meet the team of explorers who joined Lewis and Clark. If you have a computer learning station within the classroom, assign the “Meet the Team” area as an independent activity for their computer time.

Once all students have completed the quiz, regroup to discuss what they have learned. For example, how many were surprised at the availability of canned goods in 1803? Discuss the leadership skills needed for Lewis and Clark as well as the men they picked for their team. What kind of decisions did they need to make in order to solve the problems and challenges ahead of them in the trail? Ask students if they would be prepared to make a similar journey and what they would do to prepare for it.

Specimen Box
As homework, have students bring in a box from home. Any small box made of cardboard like a shoebox will do. Print out several copies of the box labels so students can pick a character to become through their experiences following Lewis & Clark. When they return to class, explain to them that they will collect objects as they go through the Lewis & Clark activity, and they must prepare these objects to send home to their parents. If you have time, have students decorate their boxes with their box labels and any other art material available. If there is no time, have them pick their labels in class, paste them on their boxes, and ask them to decorate their boxes at home

Following the Journey
Print out the timeline graphic organizer (PDF) for each student.

Individually or in pairs, have each student by a computer. Introduce them to the home page of Lewis and Clark and explain that they are ready to start the journey in 1803. Direct them to the 1803 timeline and have them explore while filling out their graphic organizer.

As students explore the timelines, they will find the objects for the specimen box. Have them create a specimen box online and collect the objects, filling out the descriptive information as they go along. Once they have completed their specimen box, have them print out the contents and place them in their decorated boxes.

The Trail Today
Throughout the year, Scholastic News student reporters will be writing articles on events celebrating Lewis and Clark.  Have students read through these reports. You can come back periodically to see if new reports are added.

After students read about the events on the trail today, they are given a choice on either reporting on Lewis and Clark or writing a journal entry as if they were a member of the Corps of Discovery. For either writing assignment, have students focus on their point of view—whether they are writing with a Native American perspective, a member of the Corps of Discovery, or even President Thomas Jefferson. They should also pay attention to the facts in their journals and articles and separate them from their opinions.

If students are writing a journal, have them pre-write, write, and edit their work offline. They should hand one copy to you before entering it into the Westward Expansion journal.

If students are writing the article, they should follow the directions in the “Be a Reporter” section, enter their headline, byline, and caption. They should fully research and write their article before printing out a copy for grading. (See Assessment & Evaluation)

Extend this activity
Once their timeline graphic organizers are completed, as a class, students can create a large map or timeline following the journey of Lewis and Clark. Decorate with the specimen box objects as well as images they print off the Internet.

Cross Curricular Extensions

Vocabulary/Word Origins (Grades 3–5)
Students learn about the influence of Native American languages by studying the history of common English words. Assign students to each compile lists of five or more words that originate from Native American languages. For some examples see AAA Native Arts

Drama (Grades 4–5)
Students can choose to dramatize a specific episode from the adventures of Lewis and Clark, rehearse the play, and then present it to the class.

Language Arts (Grade 3–5)
Students write a story about the Lewis and Clark adventures. Giving students the theme of Lewis and Clark, have them write characters, a plot, setting, and point of view.

Discussion Starters:

• Why was it important to pick the right people to go on the journey with Lewis and Clark?
• What were some of the events and people who came together to make the Lewis and Clark journey happen? Why was it important that all these events happened?
• How is the American landscape different today than it was in the early 1800s?
• What are some of the changes in the lives of Native Americans?
Do you think Lewis and Clark could have imagined some of these changes?
• What are some of the differences between traveling 200 years ago and today? What would be a comparable journey today and how would you prepare for it?
• In 1806, Lewis and Clark came back to the United States to very little fanfare. Why do we celebrate their accomplishments today?
• How are people still exploring today?
• How would you feel if you were put in Lewis and Clark’s shoes?
• In reading the journals written by Lewis, Clark, and the members of their team, how can we, as historians, figure out the differences between fact and opinion in their experiences?

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