Manifest Destiny Activities for Kids

Instructor: Tammy Galloway

Tammy teaches business courses at the post-secondary and secondary level and has a master's of business administration in finance.

Manifest Destiny was a popular mindset that colonists should expand westward. These activities will help enhance your students' understanding of this specific time period in history.

Manifest Destiny Activities

Students will find the following activities engaging as they learn more about Manifest Destiny.

Let's Move West!

Students will geographically outline westward expansion initiatives.


  • A blank map of the United States
  • Crayons
  • Pen or pencil


  • Begin this activity by asking students to discuss why westward expansion was so important to some colonists.
  • Encourage them to discuss the proponents' and opponents' points of view.
  • Explain that this activity explores the westward initiative geographically.
  • Distribute the blank map to students and ask them to follow these instructions:
    • Outline the following on the map:
      • United States in 1783
      • Louisiana Purchase 1803
      • Florida 1819
      • Oregon Country 1846
      • Mexican Cession 1848
      • Texas 1845
      • Gasden Purchase 1853
  • Color each expansion a different color.
  • Display each student's work on the board.
  • Reconvene the class and ask students which area of the country they would want to live in and why.

Manifest Destiny Diversity

Westward expansion included more than just implanted colonists. Students will explore the many cultural groups who comprised the expansion.


  • Poster boards
  • Markers
  • Crayons


  • Begin this activity by asking students to discuss the benefits of diversity during westward expansion.
  • Ask them to discuss if everyone embraced diversity and explore the reasons why or why not.
  • Explain that this activity identifies some of the cultural groups that settled west and their contributions.
  • Divide the class into the following groups:
    • Pioneers
    • Nez Perce
    • Mormons
    • Forty Niners
    • Mexicanos
    • Chinese
  • Distribute a poster board, crayons and markers to each group, then explain the following instructions:
    • List at least five characteristics of your group.
    • Discuss their specific contributions to westward expansion.
    • Identify where they mainly settled.
    • Draw and color a representative picture of your group.
  • Afterwards, allow groups to present their projects to the class.

Westward Travel Consultants

Students will analyze a famous Manifest Destiny painting by John Gast. They will take a step back in time and imagine they are travel consultants hired to help settlers move west.


  • Several copies of John Gast's American Progress painting
  • 8 ½ x 11 paper
  • Markers and crayons

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