Lewis & Clark for Grades 3-5
- Grades: 3–5
- Unit Plan:
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.
- Use Web technology to access information on the explorations of Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery
- Make decisions on what skills, tools, and supplies would be needed to go on a journey like Lewis and Clark's
- Participate in active writing activities and peer review
- Use technology tools to synthesize information and communicate that knowledge
- Investigate change over time to gain perspective on the successes of the Lewis and Clark journey
- Write a first person journal as if they were in the Corps of Discovery
- Interpret information from maps through historical and current map comparisons
- Develop an understanding of the Native American cultures encountered by Lewis and Clark and how they assisted the Corps of Discovery
- Identify and analyze dates and the passage of time
- Demonstrates comprehension through experiential response
Set Up and Prepare
- 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.
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..
Supporting All Learners
Lewis & Clark helps students meet the following standards Sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the International Reading Association (IRA).
- Students read a wide range of print and non-print texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world. (1)
- Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions (7)
- Students use a variety of technological and informational resources (libraries, databases, computer. networks) to gather and synthesize information in order to create and communicate knowledge. (8)
- Students develop an understanding of and respect for diversity in language use, patterns, and dialects across cultures, ethnic groups, geographic regions, and social roles. (9)
- Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities. (11)
- Students use spoken, written, and visual language for learning, persuasion, and exchange of information. (12)
National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS):
Lewis & Clark meets the standards of the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), which promote the development of students as good citizens in a culturally diverse, interdependent world. The content and activities of this project are especially appropriate for the themes of:
- Culture: Students learn how to understand multiple perspectives that derive from different cultural vantage points.
- Time, Continuity, and Change: Students focus on how the world has changed in order to gain perspective on the present and the future.
- Individual Development and Identity: Students learn to ask questions such as "What influences how people learn, perceive, and grow?"
- People, Places, and Environments: Students utilize technological advances to connect to the world beyond their personal locations. The study of people, places, and human-environment interactions assists learners as they create their spatial views and geographic perspectives of the world.
- Civic Ideals and Practices: Students gain an understanding of the ideals, principles, and practices of citizenship in a democratic republic.
Technology Foundation Standards for Students:
- use technology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity, and promote creativity use technology tools to collaborate, publish, and interact with peers, experts, and other audiences use a variety of media and formats to communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources
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.
- 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?
Formal Assessment Ideas
Have students go through the Be a Reporter activity from The Trail Today. Once they have researched and written their newspaper articles, print out the results for formal assessment.
Visit Writing with Writers for a news writing workshop where students can publish these reports online.
Project Assessment Ideas
Specimen Box of the Lewis & Clark Expedition
Have students add to their specimen box by collecting more objects. Using their completed timeline graphic organizer (PDF), have students research and find more discoveries made by Lewis and Clark. As they find images, they should print out the images and write descriptions, just as they did for the six objects provided in the online activity. Students will collect these objects in their box for a complete overview of the Lewis & Clark discoveries.
When students complete their boxes, you can publish your students' work posting them onto your class homepage.
Use the writing rubric as a way to assess your students' writing skills. This rubric can also serve as a model for a modified version that might include your state's writing standards.