Westward Expansion Project Ideas

Instructor: Anthony Cognata

Anthony has taught multiple grade levels in middle school, coached across contents, and has a master's degree in Educational Leadership.

Use these project ideas for a unit on the Westward Expansion and allow students the opportunity to practice research skills and delve more deeply into the experience of Native Americans and European Americans moving west.

Studying Westward Expansion

Understanding the growth and change brought upon the nation by the movement west is critical for students' understanding of America today. Often, the experience is centered on the actions and stories of white Americans moving from the East to the West. While these stories are critical, the following projects are crafted to encourage seeing the events through a variety of eyes and different viewpoints. Use these projects to expand students' understanding of an important time in U.S. history.

  • Note: Any of these projects can be done by students individually, but they are also great for group projects and collaboration as well!

Native American Diary

With this project, students should research Westward Expansion, then explain a variety of events through the perspective of a Native American. You can choose to assign specific historical Native American people, or allow students to create their own character using a factual Native American group and historical facts. Students should reference specific facts that pertain to that person or Native American tribe as well as including general information on Westward Expansion and the idea of Manifest Destiny - and their impacts on Native American life and culture. Give students time to first research their person or group, and then write a chronological diary from their point of view. Complete the project by having them tell their story to the class.

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