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Louisiana Purchase Lesson for Kids

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I am a Christian. I was an 8th-grade American History teacher. I am currently a freelance writer, public speaker, & homeschooling mom of 9.

Lewis & Clark Lesson for Kids

Lewis & Clark Lesson for Kids

This is the 16th lesson in a series of 28 hands-on lessons covering American History through 1865. This lesson focuses on President Thomas Jefferson & the Louisiana Purchase. I used this plan while teaching a 45 minute history class for children in Kindergarten, 1st, & 2nd grades. Each lesson includes a biography report, history notebook page, history song, our favorite children's books, YouTube video, a history joke, & a variety of hands-on activities to make each lesson engaging & memorable. Use these fun lessons with your classroom, homeschool, after-school program, or co-op!

Student biography report on Sacajawea

Student biography report on Sacajawea

Student Biography Presentation: Sacajawea

1. Student biography presentation on Sacajawea

Review & Presidents Song

2. Review: What is the document that tells the rules for how America's government will run? (Constitution) What do we call the first part of the Constitution? (Preamble) Let's sing the Preamble again. [Sing it one last time while flipping through the book that includes pictures.] How many branches are there in our government? (3) Can you name 1? (legislative, executive, judicial) What does the legislative branch do? (makes laws) What does the executive branch do? (executes/enforces/carries out the laws) What does the judicial branch do? (judges the laws) Who was our first president? (George Washington) Who can tell me something about George Washington?

3. Over the next few months we're going to learn all the Presidents. We're only going to learn the first 3 today.

  • Show the entire video (or flip through a book showing Presidents or point to their pictures on a President placemat) while singing through the song 1 time. [I squeezed in "and Joe Biden" at the end.]
  • Sing together the first 3 Presidents using the song below. [Stop after Jefferson.] Repeat 4 times.

You will need:

  • Screen to show the below video or a book showing Presidents or point to their pictures on a President place mat

Presidents Song

Louisiana Purchase

4. Read Lewis and Clark: A Prairie Dog for the President (Step into Reading, Step 3) by Shirley Raye Redmond.

You will need:

  • Lewis and Clark: A Prairie Dog for the President (Step into Reading, Step 3) by Shirley Raye Redmond

Walking the Trail Journal

5. Pass out a blank journal to each child. Have them bring along the journal & a glue stick as we follow the trail that Lewis & Clark took. At each "station," I talk a bit about what Lewis & Clark said & did. Then the children each paste a picture into their travel journal.

  • December 1803 - [Paste the picture of the corn.] Lewis & Clark, sent by President Thomas Jefferson to explore the Louisiana Purchase land all the way to the Pacific Ocean, recruit & train their men. You have all been recruited and trained and are now part of the Corps of Discovery. We have to load lots of supplies. Some food we'll take. Sometimes we'll trade for food from the Native Americans. - Walk to next station.
  • September 1804 - [Paste the picture of prairie dogs.] We saw a new animal: prairie dogs. We tried to capture them by pouring water down their holes. It didn't work.- Walk to next station.
  • October 1804 - [Paste the picture of a Mandan man & of Sacajawea.] We will spend the winter with the Mandan Native Americans in North Dakota. We built a fort called Fort Mandan. Charbonneau and his wife, Sacajawea, join the expedition as interpreters and guides. - Walk to next station.
  • December 1804 - [Paste the picture of buffalo/bison.] We had our first buffalo hunt & were able to shoot some for food & clothing. - Walk to next station.
  • February 1805 - [No picture - Just say as you're walking] Sacagawea gives birth to a baby boy, Jean Baptiste. She calls him "Pompy."
  • April 1805 - [Paste the picture of the grizzly bear.] Lewis and another hunter kill a grizzly bear after it almost kills them. - Walk to next station.
  • August 1805 - [Paste the picture of a Shoshone man.] We meet a group of Shoshone Native Americans. Their chief, Chief Cameahwait, turns out to be Sacagawea's brother. Sacagawea helps us trade for horses to get us across the mountains. - Walk to next station.
  • September 1805 - [Paste the picture of the map of the Bitterroot Mountains.] We have to cross the snowy Bitterroot Mountains. We'll pretend these chairs are the mountains. We almost run out of food. - Walk to next station.
  • September 1805 - [Paste the picture of a Nez Perce man & salmon.] Thankfully a group of Nez Perce Native Americans give us fresh salmon and new clothes.- Walk to next station.
  • November 1805 - [No picture - Just say as you're walking - I had this stop be at the bathroom & turned on the water faucet] - We arrived at the Pacific Ocean! After spending the winter at Fort Clatsop we headed back home & arrived in St. Louis, Missouri in September 1806 with out journals to report on all they we did & saw.

You will need per child:

  • blank paper notebook (I used plain copy paper, folded them in half, cut them in half, stapled them together, & punched with holes so it can go in the history notebook.)
  • a picture of each of the above animals, people, & places printed & cut out . The pictures came from these 3 websites: , , &

  • student supply: glue stick
Beef Jerky Snack

Beef Jerky Snack

Scroll to Continue

Snack & Review

6. Pass out a snack of beef jerky, which is an item that Lewis & Clark brought on their journey. It's also a snack my kids love to bring when we travel.

You will need:

  • beef jerky

7. Today we learned about a famous trip. Ask the children if they have ever gone on a trip. Ask why they went on a trip. Ask what they normally pack when they are going to go on a trip.

  • Read Luke 9:1-6. In this passage Jesus is sending out His 12 disciples. What is He sending them out to do? What does He tell them to bring? Why do you think Jesus told them to not bring anything?
  • Today we learned about Lewis and Clark. They were not sent out by Jesus. They were sent out by the President of the United States at the time, Thomas Jefferson. Unlike what Jesus’ disciples did, Lewis and Clark did pack many items with them on their journey and they also brought back some interesting items. Who can name something the brought back?

8. Review: What is something you learned about Lewis or Clark today? Who was the President of the United States at the time who purchased the Louisiana Territory? (Thomas Jefferson) What year did they buy it? (1803) What animals did Lewis and Clark find as they explored this new area? (prairie dogs, grizzly bears, bison) Who was the Native American woman guide and translator who went with them? (Sacajawea)

9. Assign next week's student biography presentation on Dolley Madison.

We read through a huge stack of books, and these were our favorites (in addition to the one we used in the above lesson):

Optional Homework: Memorize this song about the Louisiana Purchase

The True Story of Sacajawea (TEDEd)

Native Americans & Columbus Lesson
Jamestown Lesson
Pilgrims Lesson
Thirteen Colonies Lesson
French and Indian War Lesson
Colonial Period & Revolution Rumblings Lesson
Boston Massacre & Boston Tea Party Lesson
First Shots & Declaration of Independence Lesson
American War for Independence Battles Lesson
Valley Forge & Battle of Yorktown Lesson
American Literature Lesson & American War for Independence Review
Colonial Christmas Party
Constitution Lesson
Three Branches of Government Lesson
President George Washington Lesson
Louisiana Purchase Lesson
War of 1812 Lesson
Monroe Doctrine Lesson
Trail of Tears Lesson
Oregon Trail & Battle of Alamo Lesson
California Gold Rush & Pony Express Lesson
American Industrial Revolution Lesson
Underground Railroad Lesson
Abolitionists & Women Suffragists Lesson
Civil War: The Confederate States & Abraham Lincoln Lesson
Civil War Battles Lesson
Civil War Party & End of Year Review Game
Fun, Free Hands-on Unit Studies (My Lessons in All Subjects)

© 2018 Shannon


Shannon (author) from Florida on August 03, 2018:

Thank you!

Liz Westwood from UK on August 03, 2018:

Another great lesson. I only hope history lessons in the UK are as interesting.

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