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Exploring the Louisiana Purchase--Grades 3-5

Introduction

This lesson is designed to complement a unit on the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark and Zebulon Pike expeditions. It will work best if students are first provided an introduction to the Louisiana Purchase and the explorations of Lewis and Clark and Pike. This lesson will get students to think about the geographical obstacles and difficulties that the expeditions faced.

Time Frame: 1-2 class periods

Objectives and Standards

Students will:

  • Discuss the geographic obstacles they'd face on a walking trip across the United States.
  • Map the routes of the Lewis and Clark and Zebulon Pike expeditions.
  • Refer to a map of the expeditions and a United States physical map and explain the geographical obstacles that the expeditions faced.
  • Vote on the most difficult geographic obstacle.

National Social Studies Standards:

  • 2: Time, Continuity, and Change: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of the ways human beings view themselves in and over time.
  • 3: People, Places, and Environments: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of people, places, and environments.

National Geography Standards:

  • 1: How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information from a spatial perspective.
  • 7: The physical processes that shape the patterns of Earth's surface.
  • 17: How to apply geography to interpret the past.

Maps and Materials Needed

Procedure

  1. Ask students to imagine that they need to travel across the United States on foot. They can't take a plane, train, or car. What types of terrain would they have to cross? What obstacles might they encounter, and how would they cope? Discuss these questions as a class for a brief time.
  2. If students don't already know about the Lewis and Clark and Pike expeditions, take a few minutes to explain the purposes and context of these journeys.
  3. Divide the class into pairs or small groups, and give each group the following maps:
  4. Ask each student to map the routes of Lewis and Clark and Zebulon Pike on the outline map.
  5. Have groups look at their Louisiana Purchase map and refer to a United States physical map to determine the geographical obstacles that these expeditions would have faced. If students look at the U.S. physical map online, they can link to individual states to see the landscape in more detail. Ask them to record the obstacles on their handouts. Remind the class that in these days, there were no major roads and no modern vehicles of transportation. Remind them also that the expeditions had to spend winters along the route. Make sure students understand the term "geographic obstacle."
  6. Ask groups to volunteer the obstacles they've come up with, and list these obstacles on the board. Then take a class vote on what your students think would have been the most difficult geographical obstacle for the expeditions to overcome.

Assessment Suggestions

Check to make sure that students have:

  • Accurately mapped the expedition routes.
  • Stated realistic geographical obstacles as seen on the physical map, and explained realistic reasons why these obstacles might have posed problems.

Extension

Have students browse through the PBS Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery site to learn more about this expedition. They can go through the "Into the Unknown" interactive story, in which they make decisions similar to the ones made by the members of the expedition. Before sending students to this site, check the text to be sure that the reading level is appropriate for your students.

 



Student Handout

Imagine that you're traveling with Lewis and Clark or Zebulon Pike. What do you think would be the most difficult things about your journey? Look at the maps that your teacher gives you, and find the things on the map that you think would make your journey difficult. Then write about those things below.

Lewis and Clark

List the geographic obstacles along your route, and then explain why each obstacle would have been a problem for the expedition:

Geographic Obstacle

Why would this have made the trip difficult?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zebulon Pike

List the geographic obstacles along your route, and then explain why each obstacle would have been a problem for the expedition:

Geographic Obstacle

Why would this have made the trip difficult?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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