Lesson One: The Lewis and Clark Expedition and The Louisiana Purchase

Focus Questions:

Imbedded Information in the Student Lesson:

Thomas Jefferson; Meriwether Lewis; William Clark; York


The Lewis and Clark Trail

Classroom Interaction:

     Give your students brief background information on Lewis and Clark and the exploration of the new territories. Tell them that today’s focus will be on the Louisiana Purchase and the goals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Have the students read the lesson. Instruct them to think about the focus questions (above) as they read. Afterwards, discuss the questions as a class to check for understanding.

     To generate discussion, divide students into groups of four or five and instruct them to make a joint decision on which goal of the Lewis and Clark Expedition was the most important and why. When all have finished, each group can select a spokesperson to present its decision. After all the ideas have been shared, the class can vote for the goal they think was most important. To frame the discussion and vote, you can tell them that Lewis and Clark’s men talked over and then voted on decisions that affected the expedition all through the two-year journey, starting with the election of a new sergeant after Sergeant Floyd died of a burst appendix during the first part of the journey. For more information, refer to The Lewis and Clark Trail (August 20, 1804; November 24, 1805).


Get Acrobat

Lewis and Clark Word Scramble

Student Project:

     Have the students keep their own personal Lewis and Clark journal for the week. Each day’s assignment can differ: you can ask them to notice and describe the plants on their way to and from school on one day, for example; the animals and birds the next day. Remind them that Lewis and Clark and the other journalists of the expedition also drew maps and pictures of the interesting wildlife they saw. Students could draw a map of their routes to school, or they could map their favorite creek or trail near their homes. A more formal mapping assignment, such as a marked map of the rivers of South Dakota, could challenge them further. As the picture of Clark’s journal in the student section shows, the notebooks the Corps of Discovery used were simple and unadorned, but students could be encouraged to decorate the inside with pictures of the family pets or any new or interesting bird, plant, or animal they had seen in their backyards.