Trail of Tears Activities for Kids

Instructor: Heather Jenkins

Heather has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in special education. She was a public school teacher and administrator for 11 years.

The Trail of Tears was a traumatic and controversial part of American history. Use these activities to help younger students understand the events of the Trail of Tears and its impact on United States and Native American history.

Walking the Trail of Tears

Imagine being forced to leave your land and walk hundreds of miles through rough terrain. The horrible conditions that members of five different tribes faced during the Trail of Tears contributed to the tumultuous relationship between Native American tribes and the United States government and forever affected tribal life. When students understand the events surrounding the Trail of Tears, they are able to see the consequences of America's expansion into native lands and consider the moral and ethic concerns surrounding this action.

Let's look at some activities to help students learn about the Trail of Tears, how it affected Native Americans, and its historical significance.

Can You See It?


  • The Trail of Tears by Joseph Bruchac, or another illustrated book about the Trail of Tears
  • Poster board
  • Art supplies (pencils, crayons, colored pencils, markers)

Teacher Directions

  1. Read The Trail of Tears to the class or another illustrated book about the subject. Pause throughout the story to discuss the key events and help students understand the events surrounding the relocation of the Native Americans.
  2. Divide the class into pairs, and give each pair poster board and art supplies.
  3. Have them create a poster that visualizes a certain aspect of the Trail of Tears from the book they read. For example, the poster could show what happened on the trail or what Native American life was like before the Trail of Tears and after.
  4. When the pairs have finished, have the students share their posters.

Discussion Questions

  • How do you feel about the Trail of Tears? Why do you feel this way?
  • How did you go about deciding what to include in your poster?

Five Tribes


  • Video clips about the daily life/culture of five tribes involved in the Trail of Tears (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee, Seminole)
  • Map showing the Trail of Tears
  • Access to print and online resources about Native Americans
  • Access to computer (if needed for group presentations)
  • Poster board (if needed for group presentations)

Teacher Directions

  • Show the students a map of the Trail of Tears and discuss what happened during this historical event and why it occurred.
  • Show the students video clips about the daily life and culture of the five tribes, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee, and Seminole, that were a part of the Trail of Tears.
  • Divide the class into small groups and assign each group one of the five tribes.
  • Each group should prepare a presentation about their assigned Native American tribe. Allow the students access to print and online materials for additional research.
  • Presentations should include information about the tribe's daily life before the Trail of Tears to include such aspects as:
    • Their homes
    • What they ate
    • Clothing
    • Arts and crafts
    • Religion
  • Each group can choose their style of presentation to include:
    • Skits
    • Songs
    • Slideshow presentation
    • Posters
  • When the students are finished, have them share their presentations with the class.

Discussion Questions

  • How were all of the five tribes similar?
  • What was the most interesting fact you learned about one of the Native American tribes?

Problem Solver


  • Chart paper and markers

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