A unit plan for teaching the "Lewis and Clark" student activity that explores Lewis and Clark's exciting journey west from 1803 to 1806.
- Investigate change over time to gain perspective on the successes of the Lewis and Clark journey
- Demonstrates comprehension through experiential response
- Lewis and Clark Activities
- Books and access to websites about Lewis and Clark (see this list of recommended materials)
- Several copies of the box labels
- Printouts of The Journey Begins article, one per student
- Printouts of the Time Line (PDF), one per student
- Printouts of the Specimen Box items, transparencies or one of each item per student
Set Up and Prepare
- As homework the night before Day 1, have students bring in a box from home. Any small box made of cardboard, like a shoebox, will do.
- Before Day 1, print out several copies of the box labels so students can pick their characters and create their Specimen Boxes.
- Before Day 1, print a class set of the background article The Journey Begins.
- Before Day 2, print out the six objects available for collection (either as transparencies to use with the class or as class sets on paper).
Step 1: Hand out copies of The Journey Begins article to students. After they read the article (either as a class or individually), ask students why people want to discover new lands and why is it still exciting today.
Step 2: Introduce the idea that Lewis and Clark sent back discoveries to President Thomas Jefferson, and explain that the students will be making their own discoveries and sending them back to their parents.
Step 3: Hand out the copies of the box labels. Ask students to take out the boxes they have brought from home. Spend the rest of the class decorating the boxes with the box labels and any other art material available.
Step 1: Go through each of the specimen box objects either on the transparency or with the handouts, explaining to students what the object is and why it was new for Lewis and Clark.
Step 2: As a class, have students come up with one sentence to describe the object and write that sentence on the board. Have students copy that sentence onto their printouts and put their printouts into their boxes.
Note: For older students, you may want to allow students to each write their own sentence about each object following your whole-class discussion.
Step 3: After students have completed sentences for each of the six objects, have students use web or print materials to research and find more discoveries made by Lewis and Clark. Have them record these discoveries on the Time Line (PDF).
Step 4: Have students print out images of or draw the discoveries and write descriptions of them, 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 and Clark discoveries.
To further classroom discussion, try these starting questions:
- How has the United States changed since Lewis and Clark's time? Why do people like to discover new things? What are some of the differences in how people travel today compared to 200 years ago?
- What do you know about the land in the west?
- Does it have rivers, lakes, mountains, etc.?
- How could these landscapes affect Lewis and Clark?
- Describe what Lewis and Clark would have seen as they crossed the United States.
Supporting All Learners
Lewis and Clark for Grades PreK-2 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 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 and Clark for Grades PreK-2 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.