A Lewis & Clark Corps of Discovery Themed Unit Study for Homeschool Families’ Morning Baskets and More
These Lewis & Clark secondary lesson plans are generally for students at the middle to
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Language Arts and Literature
Read Aloud Literature
The Essential Lewis and Clark edited by Landon Y. Jones is definitely one that you will want to get the audiobook version! It’s narrated by Peter Friedman (Brooklyn Bridge) and Tom Wopat (Annie Get Your Gun) as Lewis and Clark, telling the story in their own words (using the original source documents, their journals). Check your library for the audio CD or download from Hoopla or Audible.
Combine it with this Interactive Google Map that tells where Lewis and Clark were each day of the journey for some extra geography learning. You can even zoom in to see the terrain, to get a better idea of what they encountered and endured.
Choose one or read both of the selections that the younger students are using for read-aloud:
Streams to the River, River to the Sea by Scott O’Dell is historical fiction based upon Sacagawea’s life and the integral part she played as interpreter and guide for Lewis and Clark’s expedition. Your middle- and high-schoolers will love this story by one of my favorite authors (he also wrote Sing Down the Moon and Island of the Blue Dolphins).
The Captain’s Dog by Roland Smith looks at the Lewis and Clark expedition from the perspective of Lewis’ dog, Seaman. Seaman was a 140 pound Newfoundland retriever and was an invaluable member of the expedition. This fictionalized account is based heavily on Lewis’ personal diary of the journey and includes excerpts from that original source.
The Great Ball Game from Circle Round Podcast is a version of a folktale that comes from the Cherokee, Creek, Ojibway and Menominee peoples of North America.
Use the Lewis and Clark Secondary Learners Biography Report Form for a literary analysis of the book you chose as your independent reading selection. Biography literary analysis consists of telling some facts about the person, plus opinions about the book. You can get the Lewis and Clark Secondary Learners Biography Report Form from the Free Resource Library. Then have your student complete the form for either Captain Lewis or Sacagawea.
Copywork and narration are a real-life way to work on grammar skills. Use the Lewis and Clark Narration Page for Secondary Learners from the Free Resource Library. After your child has written the sentence from dictation, let her see the original to check it with her work. Have her correct her work, so that she knows the correct structure and spelling.
In this real-life writing assignment, your student will create a Facebook profile for either Captain Lewis, Captain Clark, Sacagawea, York, or George Drouillard. EducatorsTechnology has three different templates from which to choose that make this assignment very easy to complete. Be sure that they include at least 3 posts that summarize parts of the journey; bonus points if they take pictures that represent what the explorers saw.
Spelling and Vocabulary
Use the Secondary Lewis and Clark Vocabulary Cards from the Free Resource Library for spelling words. Have students write out a short definition of each word on the back of each vocabulary card. Alternatively, if your student loves to draw, have them draw a picture to depict the meaning of each word.
If your family includes memorization in your weekly work, I suggest learning this poem written by Robert Service, The Land Of Beyond.
Have you ever heard of the Land of Beyond,
That dream at the gates of the day?
Alluring it lies at the skirts of the skies,
And ever so far away;
calls:O ye the yoke galls,
And ye of the trails overfond,
With saddle and pack, by paddle and track,
Let’s go to the Land of Beyond!
Have ever you stood where the silences brood,
And vast the horizons begin,
At the dawn of the day to behold far away
The goal you would strive for and win?
Yet ah! in the night when you gain to the height,
With the vast pool of heaven star-spawned,
Afar and agleam, like a valley of dream,
Still mocks you a Land of Beyond.
Thank God! there is always the Land of Beyond
For us who are true to the trail;
A vision to seek, a beckoning peak,
A farness that never will fail;
A pridein our soul that mocks at a goal,
A manhoodthat irks at a bond,
And try how we will, unattainable still,
Behold it, our Land of Beyond!Robert Service, Public Domain
The 122 animals that Lewis and Clark cataloged on their journey all belonged to the Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Chordata, which means that they were all animals with spines (or vertebrae). Watch this video from the AmebaSisters to learn how animals are classified. Then, have your students complete the Lewis & Clark Animal Classification worksheet from the Free Resource Library.
Technology and Math
Lewis took a sextant to determine latitude, a chronometer to calculate longitude and a compass to tell directions. His chronometer quit working, however, so he relied upon a method that used the stars to measure where the expedition was and how far they’d traveled each day. This was very complicated, however, so he mostly just estimated the distance traveled. At the end of the journey, he was only off by 40 miles in his calculations!! Isn’t that amazing? Dead-reckoning is a navigational skill that some hikers use. Follow these directions from LandNavigation and AndrewSkurka to learn how to use math to measure distance.
Lewis designed a collapsible iron canoe that would be covered with sewn hides, named The Experiment. Read about the Experiment and the engineering behind it. Did The Experiment work? Why or why not?
Fine and Practical Arts
Newell Convers Wyeth was a realist American painter and one of America’s greatest illustrators. He lived from 1882 to 1945 and attended Howard Pyle’s school for illustrators. He imagined how Sacagawea guided Lewis and Clark on their journey in his painting, “Sacagawea with Lewis and Clark during their expedition in 1804-06.” For a fine arts appreciation, you can google the picture (“Sacagawea with Lewis and Clark during their expedition in 1804-06.” Newell Convers Wyeth) and discuss it with your children. (I can’t post it here due to copyrights.)
Another American artist, Thomas Hart Benton, painted a depiction of Lewis and Clark at Eagle Creek. You can see a copy of this painting at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. Benton was a prominent regionalist artist from Missouri who was famous for his murals and paintings of American life, much like Grant Wood (American Gothic). Benton painted a huge mural in the Missouri State Capitol which shows much of the history of Missouri; if you ever have a chance to visit it, it is definitely worth the trip! You can read more about Benton in this article from the Missouri State Historic Site.
Lewis and Clark and their men would have needed to build a fire each time they stopped to camp beside the river. They took 30
Prepare a meal with bison, venison, or rabbit for a fun extension of your Lewis and Clark unit study.
History and Biography
This whole unit study is history! LOL For even more history stories about Lewis and Clark and Sacagewea, listen to The Explorers podcast series of 8 episodes about Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery.
Stuff You Should Know has a shorter podcast than The Explorers series (about an hour-long) titled How Lewis and Clark Worked.
There is much debate about how Meriwether Lewis died in 1809 while on his way to from St. Louis to Washington D.C. Watch this short video from the National Park Service to learn more about his final days.
Just for fun, listen to this Lewis and Clark rap from Jam Campus.
Be sure to follow my Pinterest board US History: Westward Expansion for more great hands-on activities and ideas for your Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery unit study!
Save this image to your favorite homeschooling Pinterest board to refer back to during your Lewis and Clark unit study!