Lewis and Clark Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Use this Study.com lesson plan to teach your students about the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Help them find the main ideas, take notes on key concepts and people, and apply understanding in a fun activity.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • explain the importance of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
  • describe main events on the Lewis and Clark Expedition
  • evaluate impact of the Lewis and Clark Expedition


  • 1 hour


Key Vocabulary/Concepts/People

  • Expedition
  • Louisiana Purchase
  • Corps of Discovery
  • Captain Meriwether Lewis
  • Second Lieutenant William Clark
  • Sacagawea
  • Toussaint Charbonneau
  • Great Plains
  • President Thomas Jefferson
  • Territory
  • Lakota
  • Mandan
  • Continental Divide
  • Blackfeet
  • Crow

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.2

Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.3

Identify key steps in a text's description of a process related to history/social studies (e.g., how a bill becomes law, how interest rates are raised or lowered).

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.7

Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.


  • Activate prior knowledge and engage students by asking them to remember a time they were lost, such as while traveling, at a new school or in a store. What feelings did they experience? What did it feel like to find the way? Share with seat partners and class.
  • Now have students imagine that they were going on an expedition without a clear map or understanding of what lay ahead of them, as Lewis and Clark did.
  • Tell students they will be learning about an important event in United States history: the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
  • With your students, read our lesson The Lewis and Clark Expedition: Route, Timeline and Facts.
  • Tell students they will be working to find key ideas in the text. Read the first section, Adventure is Out There, together and determine the main idea. Ask:
    • What is the central concept in this section? What details support it?
  • Create a web organizer and place the main idea in the center and the supporting details around.
  • Continue the process for the remainder of the lesson.
  • Discuss:
    • What was the purpose of the expedition?
    • How did the expedition help Americans?
    • What impact did the expedition have on Native Americans?
    • What role did Native Americans play in the expeditions' success?
    • Were all outcomes of the expedition positive? Explain.
  • Next, have students work in pairings, small groups, or individually to find the main idea of the lesson. Use the webs already created and the lesson for reference. Record on chart paper.
  • Present to class and discuss ideas. Encourage students to evaluate others' work.


  • Help students practice key vocabulary and terms by creating a Cootie Catcher or fortune teller. If you're not familiar with this teaching tool, do a quick search for details and template.
  • Define key terms as a class. Have students complete and play with the Cootie Catchers using vocabulary.


  • Explore the route of the expedition. Reference maps and determine the distance on land and water. Calculate rate of speed and compare to current travel speeds.
  • Read journals kept by Lewis and Clark. Ask students to imagine they are on the journey and create journal entries as Sacagawea or an imaginary explorer.
  • Have students write short skits demonstrating the interactions between the explorers and Native Americans, imagining what it was like to overcome language barriers.

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