Lewis and Clark on the Trail of Discovery: The Journey that Shaped America (Rod Gragg)

Teacher's Guide Author: John Yoder - Paradise PDS - 4th Grade / Date: 4-22-2008


This teacher's guide is for the book Lewis and Clark on the Trail of Discovery by Rod Gragg. Additional teacher's Guides are available for Patty Reed's Doll, Sallie Fox, Sarah, Plain and Tall, and other exploration children's books.


Book Overview: Lewis and Clark: On the Trail of Discovery. This book is about the Lewis and Clark expedition. It begins with a short history of Merriweather Lewis and why he was selected as one of the leaders of the expedition by then president Thomas Jefferson. One great thing about this book is it has artifacts that students can see and touch which gives them the feel as if they are holding the real thing. This brings history alive for students. This first page has a letter written from Lewis to his mother. The book proceeds on with William Clark joining the expedition and then the beginning of the journey. The book follows the expedition all the way to the mouth of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean. Then it tells how they made winter camp at what is known as ‘Fort Clatsop’. And finally, the book covers the trip home and what eventually became of the members of the expedition. It is a great book and one that students will love to read and explore.

Book Themes: The Trail, the Explorers, the Adventures, the Discoveries, and the Impact on the United States

Suggested Activities

  • Language Arts
    • Follow the Trail* (Journal)
      • Teacher could read the book “Lewis and Clark: On the Trail of Discovery” as a Read-Aloud or could pick journal entries from the web page “The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition” Students keep a journal of events as if they were part of the Lewis and Clark expedition.
      • Standards Addressed
        • 7.3.4 Use correct capitalization: names and titles, dates, months, holidays, place names; first word in sentence; pronoun “I”; salutation and close of letters. [7.7]
        • 7.4.2 Write compound and complex sentences. [7.2]
        • 7.4.4 Use rules of capitalization. [7.7]
    • A Letter Home
      • Students write a letter or series of letters as if they were one of the people in the Lewis and Clark expedition writing home to their family.
      • Standards Addressed
        • 7.3.3 Use correct punctuation: dialogue, city/state, dates, titles of books, words in a series, salutation/close in letters, contractions, hour and minutes. [7.3, 7.4, 7.5, 7.6]
        • 5.4.2 Write well-organized friendly and formal letters. [5.3]
    • Write an Obituary
      • Students will write an Obituary for one of the members of the Lewis and Clark party; informing the reader what that person did and why they were important.
      • Standards Addressed
        • 6.3.3 Write simple compositions and persuasive essays that address main idea and supporting details. [6.5]
        • 6.4.3 Create one-paragraph composition with main idea and supporting details. [6.5]
        • 6.5.3 Write paragraphs and essays with main ideas, supporting details, and a conclusion. [6.5]
    • Article for “People Magazine”
      • Students will write a research article on one of the members of the Lewis and Clark expedition; answering the questions: who, what, when, where, why, and how.
      • Standards Addressed
        • 5.3.1 Locate and use at least three sources to write an informative paper. [5.2]
        • 5.4.1 Write informative papers with a clear focus using a variety of sources. [5.2]
        • 5.4.5 Write compositions with a main idea and supporting details. [5.6]
        • 11.4.4 Organize and record information using note-taking from print and other non-print resources. [11.4]
        • 5.5.1 Write informative papers that develop a clear topic with supporting details. [5.2]
        • 6.5.3 Write paragraphs and essays with main ideas, supporting details, and a conclusion. [6.5]
  • Mathematics
    • Follow the Trail* (Chart Mileage)
      • On a student map each student keeps track of the trail and miles Lewis and Clark traveled from major point to major point and then add up the total miles traveled round trip.
      • Standards Addressed
        • 1.3.0 Use a variety of appropriate strategies, including mental computation, to estimate, compute, and solve mathematical and practical problems [1.17]
        • 1.3.8 Model addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division in a variety of ways [1.24]
        • 1.4.7 Add and subtract multi-digit numbers [1.20]
        • 1.5.8 Generate and solve addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems using whole numbers and decimals in practical situations [1.19]
    • Let’s Make a Mile
      • Students will measure out a mile on the field, walk it and then calculating the number of miles the Lewis and Clark expedition traveled.
      • Standards Addressed
        • 3.3.2 Select and use appropriate units of measure; measure and record to a required degree of accuracy to the nearest 1/2 unit [3.5, 3.6]
        • 3.4.1 Estimate and convert units of measure for length, area, and weight within the same measurement system (customary and metric). [3.1]
        • 3.5.1 Measure, compare, and convert length to the closest fractional part (1/4 and 1/2) of inches, feet, yards, and miles [3.2]
    • Estimate the Distance
      • Using a map that shows the route taken by Lewis and Clark; students are to use the mileage key to try to determine the total distance traveled by the expedition. A prize is given to the student that comes the closest.
      • Standards Addressed
        • 1.3.0 Use a variety of appropriate strategies, including mental computation, to estimate, compute, and solve mathematical and practical problems [1.17]
        • 3.4.1 Estimate and convert units of measure for length, area, and weight within the same measurement system [3.1]
        • 1.4.6 Estimate to determine reasonableness of an answer in mathematical and practical situations [1.16]
        • 1.4.7 Add and subtract multi-digit numbers [1.18]
    • How Long Can This Go On?
      • Students will convert the number of days Lewis and Clark are on their Voyage of Discovery to months, then to hours, then to minutes, and then to seconds.
      • Standards Addressed
        • 3.4.6 Recognize the number of weeks in a year, days in a year, and days in a month [3.10].
        • 3.3.6 Recognize that there are 60 minutes in 1 hour [3.14]
        • 3.5.6 Determine equivalent periods of time, including relationships between and among seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, and years [3.8]
  • Social Studies
    • Read a Timeline
      • Students will go to the website ‘Beyond the Textbook: Lewis and Clark’ and explore ‘Lewis and Clark Timeline with Online Journal Questions’. http://www.glencoe.com/sec/socialstudies/btt/lewis_clark/timeline.shtml
      • Standards Addressed
        • (3)4.2 read a timeline [NS 1.3.2]
        • (5)4.2 record and interpret events on a graphic organizer, such as a calendar or timeline [NS 1.5.2]
    • Follow the Trail* (The Interactive Time Line)
      • Students will go to the website ‘Beyond the Textbook: Lewis and Clark’ and will click on ‘Student Activity’ on the left side of the page. Students will then try to complete ‘The Interactive Timeline’. http://www.glencoe.com/sec/socialstudies/btt/lewis_clark/timeline.shtml
      • Standards Addressed
        • (3)4.14 create time lines that show people and events in sequence using days, weeks, months, years, decades, and centuries
        • (4)4.1 record events on a graphic organizer, such as a calendar or timeline [NS 1.5.2]
        • (4)4.9 create timelines that show people and events in sequence using months, years, decades, and centuries
        • (5)4.2 record and interpret events on a graphic organizer, such as a calendar or timeline [NS 1.5.2]
    • KWL Chart
      • In small groups students will fill out a KWL chart on the topic of Lewis and Clark. Then based on what the students have recorded on their group charts the classroom will come up with a big classroom KWL chart. Then students will set about determining if what they thought they knew was correct and answering the questions what they wanted to know.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (3)4.4 ask history-related questions [NS 2.3.1]
        • (3)4.15 read and interpret historical passages
        • (4)4.7 recognize the ongoing nature of history (e.g., migration, human settlement, demographic)
        • (4)4.12 read historical passages and interpret details
        • (5)4.3 ask a historical question and identify resources to be used in research [NS 2.5.1]
        • (5)4.4 organize historical information from a variety of sources [NS 2.5.2]
    • Investigative Report: The West before Lewis and Clark
      • Students are investigative Reporters and conduct research and report on what life was like in the lands Lewis and Clark explored.
      • Standards Addressed
        • (3)4.5 identify Native North American life prior to European contact (e.g., food, clothing, shelter) [NS 5.3.6]
        • (4)4.13 identify appropriate resources for historical information
  • Science
    • What Type of Landforms did they see?
      • Students use a topographical map and the Internet to determine the types of landforms the expedition traveled over during a specific part of the trek.
      • Standards Addressed
        • 10.3.2 Describe how the Earth is composed of different landforms.
        • 10.4.2 Compare and contrast the location of landforms
        • 17.4.2 Observe, investigate, and describe how some environmental changes occur quickly and some occur slowly.
        • 10.5.2 Investigate and describe how erosion and deposition rates can be affected by the slope of the land and by human activities.
        • 10.5.3 Investigate and describe how the surface of the Earth, including the ocean floor has a varied topography.
    • Using a Map: Which Way Did They Go?
      • Students use a map and a compass to chart the over-all direction the expedition has taken during a specific part of the trek. The trek is to be divided into small sections and students work in groups of 2 or 3 to determine and record the general direction the expedition went during that part of their travel.
      • Standards Addressed
        • 11.3.1 Describe that directions on the Earth can be represented by north, south, east, and west.
        • 11.5.1 Identify compass directions on a map.
    • Natural Resources Match
      • Students are to put in order the states Lewis and Clark traveled through during their expedition. Then, students are to research and find what major resources are found in each state.
      • Standards Addressed
        • 16.3.2 Describe how humans have obtained natural resources for thousands of years through farming, mining, and hunting and gathering.
        • 16.4.2 Investigate and describe resources which can be used and reused or renewed.
        • 16.5.3 Explain how Earth materials, including those found in Nevada, provide many of the resources that humans use.
        • 16.5.4 Explain that humans tend to use resources to meet more than their minimal needs for food, shelter and warmth.
        • 17.5.1 Investigate and describe how consumptive patterns of people vary in different places.
    • Follow the Trail* (Graph of Progress)
      • Student chart the monthly progress in distance the expedition made during the whole trip. This data will be used to create a graph in Excel.
      • Standards Addressed
        • 22.3 Create illustrations, graphs, and charts to convey ideas and record observations.
        • 18.4.2 Identify the components of scientific investigation (e.g. observing, collecting data, classifying)
        • 11.5.3 Explain how many things can be represented by two-dimensional maps and three-dimensional models.
        • 22.5.2 Organize information into charts, tables, and graphs.

Historical Overview of Book Themes

The Louisiana Purchase

The Louisiana Country is a vast track of land covering the central part of the United States, stretching from the Gulf of Mexico up into parts of Canada. The land covered all of Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, most of North Dakota and South Dakota, and parts of Minnesota, New Mexico, Texas, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado; as well as parts of two Canadian provinces Alberta and Saskatchewan. The land had been originally been claimed by France who disregarded the rights to the land the Native Americans had. Spain had acquired the land from France and then 40 years later Spain transferred the land back to France.

Then President Thomas Jefferson was concerned about the French and Napoleon having lands right next to the United States because relations between the two countries was not on the best of terms. Jefferson's main concern was the port of New Orleans because it controlled the access of all the traffic on the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. A few years prior when the Spanish held New Orleans, they had revoked the rights of the United States to use the port. This caused a great disruption in commerce along the Mississippi River. Jefferson sent James Monroe and Robert R. Livingston to Paris to offer Napoleon up to $10 million dollars for the port. With the threat of war with Great Britain looming and not wanting his forces spread thin; Napoleon saw a chance to consolidate his forces and make some money. Napoleon countered with the suggestion of $15 million for all of the Louisiana Territory. Jefferson jumped at the chance even though he was not sure that he had the power to purchase the land on behalf of the United States. The purchase did have some opposition here in the United States. The Federalists believed that the purchase would bring U.S. relations closer to France and further away from Great Britain.

In Paris on April 30, 1803, the Louisiana Purchase Treaty was signed. The United States paid France $11,250,000 and canceled debts France owed the United States worth $3,750,000. With the stroke of a pen, the United States gained 828,000 square miles. With this purchase, the size of the country was doubled.

Additional Resources

Lewis and Clark Trail


The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition


PBS Inside the Corps


National Geographic: Lewis and Clark Expedition Time Line


The Lewis and Clark Journey of Discovery: Corps of Discovery Profiles


Lewis and Clark.com: Follow the Voyage of Discovery


Beyond the Textbook: Lewis and Clark





Note: This teacher's guide was developed as part of one of the Clark County School District's Teaching American History grants. In this grant module, teachers focused on using children's historical literature to teach cross-curricular concepts relating to 19th century westward movement. For more information about this blog, related teacher's guides, or the grant module, please contact Dr. Christy Keeler.


Paige Karetny said...

Wow! I was really intimidated by this book, but your activities really broke it down into very easy to teach chunks. I enjoyed the Natural Resources activity and would definitly use that in my class. I might have each student (or groups of students) choose one state, research it and present its natural resources to the class.

pnagoshi said...

You have a few activities that stand out for me: landforms, converting time, People article,and the obituary. How about a combination written and digital magazine article or of the life's accomplishments of the deceased?

Christy G. Keeler, Ph.D. said...

I like the idea of writing obituaries, but perhaps not in this case. Because no one (I believe) died on the trail, their obituaries would extend beyond the time on the trail. How would students account for that extended time? Would you have them do additional research? If so, I'm not sure how much they could find without hard-core primary source work for some of the corps' members.

I like the idea of having students determine how far the corps traveled each month. This is a great math/science activity. Students can correlate weather, river flow direction, and other physical geographical features to the pace traveled at the different intervals. Great idea!

Colin Haas said...

I really enjoyed this book and I liked your ideas. The one about landforms is really exciting because I couldnt imagine trying to figure those out at that time. I also liked the idea of the People article. That lesson could be use in many ways and is an excellent idea. The writing that you can get from a lesson on the people they met would be awesome.