Lewis and Clark Expedition Lesson Plan Essential Questions

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Lewis and Clark Expedition Lesson Plan
Essential Questions:

  1. How does the Lewis and Clark expedition affect the expansion of the United States population in the 1800’s?

  2. What was the impact on the Native American communities of the west?

The Teaching Point: Analyzing a piece art for meaning.
Why/Purpose/Connection: To using visual aides understand how the western expansion shaped what now we call the United States.


Using a painting depicting Grand Central the teacher will demonstrate how to analyze a painting and the interactions between the characters.

Guided Practice:

  • Students will observe and analyze a painting depicting the Lewis and Clark expedition experience and collectively complete an inquiry worksheet about the work of art.

  • Students will discuss how color, light, body language and movement can tell a story in a painting.

Independent Exploration:

  • Students will create a journal entry from the perspective of a person traveling in the journey.

  • Students must include a date and proper letter format.


Instead of writing what the poses tell about the painting's story, students will observe and then do a turn and talk to discuss what story the painting is telling. Using post - it students will create a speech bubble depicting a conversation between characters in the given painting. Students will use a letter format template for their journal entry.


Groups will share their findings on their group's painting and as a whole class we will come up with what was something's experienced during the Lewis and Clarke expedition. Students journals will be collected to form an anthology of experiences to be displayed in the classroom.

Student work will be graded according to the attached journal writing rubric.
Common Core Learning Standards:
NYS Common Core Standards

• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined

experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.

• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.6 Describe how a narrator’s or speaker’s point of view

influences how events are described.

• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.1 Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a

point of view with reasons and information.

New York State Common Core K-8 Social Studies Framework

• 5.6 The forces of expansion and migration have affected nations and cultures

throughout the Western Hemisphere, resulting in population shifts,

development of urban centers, displacement of native cultures, and imperial


  1. Geographic characteristics found in particular regions have served to aid expansion and the connection with other societies.

Next Steps:
Students will create posters of propaganda either for or against heading west incuding specific details for persuasion.


'Grand Central Terminal' - Patrons bustle at the "Grand Central Terminal: An Early December Noon in the Main Concourse" in this photo-realistic oil on linen painting by Stone Roberts. Museum of the City of New York. http://www.bloomberg.com/photo/-grand-central-terminal-/203615.html

Encounter with the Teton Sioux, September 25, 1804, (painted 2010) depicts the tension-filled encounter between the Corps of Discovery and the Lakota http://jamesayers.com/2013/04/23/lewis-and-clark-lead-to-discoveries-today/

Lewis and Clark Expedition: Sacagawea. Photograph. Britannica Online for Kids. Web. 24 July 2013.  <http://kids.britannica.com/elementary/art-88074>.
Lewis and Clark in the Bitterroots painted by Jim Carson http://www.jimcarsonstudio.com/large/lewis-and-clark-in-the-bitterroots
"Lewis and Clark at Cape Disappointment" This painting depicts the Lewis and Clark Party on Cape Disappointment, which is on the Southwest Washington Coast just west of the town of Ilwaco, Washington. http://www.rogercooke.com/descriptions/description.486.html
The Lewis and Clark Expedition by Thomas Mickell Burnham (1838) http://www.the-athenaeum.org/art/full.php?ID=16152#

Clip from the National Geographic film  Lewis & Clark: Great Journey West. http://www.nationalgeographic.com/lewisandclark/movie.html

Encounter with the Teton Sioux, September 25, 1804, (painted 2010) 

Lewis and Clark Expedition: Sacagawea. Britannica Online for Kids.

Lewis and Clark in the Bitterroots painted by Jim Carson

"Lewis and Clark at Cape Disappointment"

The Lewis and Clark Expedition by Thomas Mickell Burnham (1838)

Prepared by Jennifer Guerrero, Tawanna Cardoza and Miriam DeLeón

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