Wild West Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Angela Burke

Angela has over ten years of teaching experience in Special Education, classroom teaching and GT. She has a master's degree in Special Ed with an emphasis in Gifted.

Cowboys, outlaws and prospectors were all a part of the colorful Wild West! In this lesson, explore why the Wild West was such an interesting part of America's past. Discover how it began and why it ended so quickly.

The Colorful Wild West

Let's step back in time to the late 1800s, when you might come face to face with a gang of outlaws running from the law! Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Jesse James and Billy the Kid were a few of the most famous. The Wild West is known for outlaws, cowboys, Native Americans, pioneers, gunfighters and lawmen trying to keep order. Let's discover when and why the Wild West began and ended, as well as some fun facts!

Outlaw Jesse James
Jesse James

A Wild Place

The Wild West began around 1865 after the American Civil War ended and lasted for 30 years. All of the land west of the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean was considered the Wild West. The Wild West got its name because it was a wild place! There were no police stations, fire departments, grocery stores or movie theaters. Everyone was trying to survive off of the land, and life was hard. It was difficult to uphold the law.

As the pioneers forged their way west, the Native Americans got pushed off of the lands they lived and hunted on, and wars broke out between them and the white men. The Native Americans eventually surrendered, and were given small pieces of land by the government called reservations.

Westward Expansion

Why did people want to move west? Gold was one reason! Prospectors, which are explorers looking for minerals such as gold, flocked to California. Some became rich, but many more lost everything they owned!

Another reason for westward expansion, which was the movement from one part of the country to another, was that many people hoped for a better and richer life. Land was very cheap, and pioneers, the first people to settle the west, followed the Oregon Trail to find a new home.

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