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Featured GraphicLewis and Clark:
The Journey West

On January 18, 1803, President Thomas Jefferson requested money from Congress. The money would enable Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and about 30 other explorers to map a water route from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. The expedition started out on May 14, 1804. Two hundred years later, America celebrates the anniversary of that famous trek. Included: Five lessons that focus on preparations for the expedition and on highlights of the trek.

President Thomas Jefferson had many goals -- commercial, political, and scientific --when he sent a secret communique to Congress on January 18, 1803. In that message, Jefferson requested a $2,500 appropriation to fund an expedition that would document a water route to the Pacific Ocean.

More Lessons
Worth a Look!

Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery, a PBS film by Ken Burns, is a top-notch teaching resource. Don't miss the wide variety of excellent lesson plans developed to accompany the film. Find those lessons on PBS's Lewis and Clark Lesson Plans page.

This year, the 200th anniversary of the start of the Lewis and Clark expedition, is the perfect time to teach about that historic event. We have provided five lessons you can use to teach your students about the people Lewis and Clark hired to make the journey, the planning that went into the expedition, and some of the important milestones that occurred along the way.

You might begin your introduction to Lewis and Clark with a class discussion. Ask students: Would you make a good explorer? Why or why not? What kind of person might make a good explorer? Make a list of some of the characteristics students mention.

Introduce the idea that explorers must make many decisions -- decisions that could mean the difference between life and death. Drive home that idea by inviting students to follow the Journey Log of Lewis and Clark.  Students will learn the decisions that faced Lewis and Clark as they led their team of explorers into unknown territory.

At the end of that role-play activity, ask students the same two questions you asked at the beginning of the activity.


This week, Education World provides five lessons to help students learn about the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Click each of the five lesson headlines below for a complete teaching resource. (Appropriate grade levels for each lesson appear in parentheses.)

Meet the Corps of Discovery
Students assume the persona of one of the members of Lewis and Clarks expedition team.

President Jeffersons Cipher: Cracking the Code
Can your students crack the code for conveying secret messages that President Jefferson gave Lewis and Clark?

Lewis and Clarks Journey West: A Timeline Activity
A timeline/scavenger hunt activity highlights milestone events in Lewis and Clarks journey west.

Lewis and Clark: Equipping the Expedition
In this cooperative activity, students learn about preparations made before Lewis and Clark set off on their expedition.

Lewis and Clark and the Native Americans
Students learn how the Lewis and Clark Expedition impacted Native American tribes.


Click here for a page of additional teaching resources, including general histories of the expedition, biographies of the participants, journals kept by the explorers, and ten teacher-created WebQuests.