Louisiana Purchase Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught history, and has an MA in Islamic law/finance. He has since founded his own financial advice firm, Newton Analytical.

Unlike Lewis and Clark, you'll know exactly what you're getting your students into with this lesson plan on the Louisiana Purchase. The plan reinforces the geography of the purchase as well as the politics of its execution.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to do the following:

  • Identify the major facts surrounding the Louisiana Purchase.
  • Understand why the deal was of such strategic importance to the United States.


30 minutes

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.1

Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.

  • 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.


Students will greatly benefit from having access to dry erase maps, perhaps those that have been laminated. Additionally, blue and red dry erase markers will be useful. Paper printed maps and highlighters will work with this activity as well.


Read the lesson The Louisiana Purchase of 1803: Summary, Facts, & Importance, then do the following.

  • First, identify the area of the Louisiana Purchase and the city of New Orleans on a map. Confirm with students why moving goods by river was so important, and thus why New Orleans was so important. Have them put a blue X over New Orleans then guide them in shading in red all the land that depended on the Mississippi River for transport.
  • Ask students to discuss why Napoleon would be willing to take a higher amount for more land. What does this say about how Napoleon regarded the land? Do you think he needed the money? Also, why did the fact that the Constitution said nothing about land purchases matter?
  • Finally, ask students to identify some of the features in the land that had just been purchased. Use this opportunity to introduce the concept of the Lewis and Clark expedition, as well as the Pike expedition.

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