Lewis & Clark Lesson for Kids

Instructor: April Inocente
In this lesson you will learn about two exciting American explorers named Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. They experienced exciting new discoveries as well as dangerous mountains, weather, and animal encounters! Learn more now.

Who Were Lewis and Clark?

Think of a time when you visited a new museum, a new park, a new city or town, any place where you've never been before. Now imagine a world, a land, a continent full of rivers, lakes, mountains, plains, animals and native people that have never been discovered, and you and some friends are tasked with becoming explorers and discovering all of these new and wonderful things.

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
Lewis and Clark

Well, in May 1804, President Thomas Jefferson sent out two explorers named Meriwether Lewis and William Clark with a team of about thirty people to explore and make a map of the western part of our continent, North America. President Jefferson hoped Lewis and Clark would find a water route connecting the Columbia and Missouri Rivers. These explorers had no maps, no phones, no idea what to expect. Many exciting discoveries lay ahead but also many dangers.

Lewis and Clark Expedition Map
Lewis and Clark Expedition Map

The Expedition

The expedition began near what is now known as St. Louis, Missouri, and went to what is now known as the coast of Oregon. For the first part of their trip they paddled in canoes up the Missouri River to a trading post called Fort Mandan. They stayed at this post throughout the winter. They would wait until spring to leave again, floating along the river in their canoes and camping along the river banks at night. They met Native American tribes along the way who helped them navigate the river and get through rough terrain like mountains.

Getting Help from the Native American Tribe Known as Chinook
Meeting the Chinook Tribe

They traded with the Native Americans and made friends with them. Lewis and Clark and their team landed on the West coast in 1805 where they spent the winter, then in 1806 they headed back to St. Louis to report their discoveries to President Jefferson.

The Discoveries

Along the trip Clark drew detailed maps of the rivers and landscapes that they discovered. He even gave names to them. The team discovered hundreds of new plants and animals along the journey.

They discovered the grizzly bear, many bird species, many fish species, prairie dogs, harbor seals and many other animals. This was all kept in a journal for them to take back to Jefferson.

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