Monday, June 9, 2008

Picture North America: On the Trail with Lewis and Clark Lesson Plan

Note: The lesson "Picture North America" was originally developed by John Pauli, a teacher consultant with the Geographic Alliance in Nevada. Dr. Keeler modified the lesson plan (see the modified lesson plan here) and then changed the lesson to focus more on the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

This lesson is available at:

Grade Level: 5-10 [When using only the pictures and placards, this lesson may be used in younger grades.]

Time: 50 minutes

Using pictures, atlases, place card descriptors and latitude and longitude cards, students work collaboratively to match the items. The result is a completed table listing relative and absolute locations. Students also note geographic regions and mark the locations of the pictures on a map using stickers.

Connection to National Geography Standards:
The World in Spatial Terms
(1) How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information.
(3) How to analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments on Earth's surface.
Places and Regions
(4) The physical and human characteristics of places.
(5) That people create regions to interpret Earth's complexity.
Physical Systems
(8) The characteristics and spatial distribution of ecosystems on Earth's surface.

“Picture North America” notes (See below)
Sealed folders (enough students to work in pairs or groups of four) containing:
  • One atlas
  • One laminated North America map [Create a laminated regional map by first finding an outline map of the region (e.g., U.S. outline map -- delete the grid lines) and cutting the margins by about .5" on all sides. Next, glue the map onto a piece of colored cardstock. Laminate the map. Now, students may write on the maps with wet erase markers, clean them with paper towels, and re-use them. This is a wonderful tool for students to use when practicing country or state names.]
  • Removable stickers (one set)
  • Lettered pictures from the North American continent (one set of 10) **
  • Cards listing the picture description and relative location of each picture (one set)
  • Cards listing the absolute location of each picture (one set)
  • “Picture North America” worksheet and cards
  • Draw the westward trail of Lewis and Clark.
  • Describe the physical geographical regions visited by the Corps of Discovery.
  • Define relative location and absolute location.
  • Identify flora, fauna, and structures within North America.
  • Utilize atlases to coordinate place names with latitude and longitude.
  • Match visual images of physical space to their relative and absolute locations.
  • Work collaboratively to utilize geographic tools.
Place students into pairs or groups of four and direct them to:
  1. Work collaboratively to match the pictures, place name cards, and latitude and longitude cards.
  2. Once all cards are matched, place a sticker on the North American laminated map for the location of each picture.
  3. Then, complete the “Picture North America” worksheet using the matched information.
  4. Finally, identify a region for each location.
Provide each group with one packet of materials.

Circulate, assisting students as they match pictures and cards, utilize atlases, place stickers on the map, and complete their worksheets. Once groups feel confident they have correctly completed their worksheets, allow them to check their answers with the answer key. If they have errors, encourage them to identify the cause of the errors and to fix these on their worksheets/maps.

Once all students have correctly completed their worksheets, ask students:
  • What did you learn from this activity?
  • What do you notice about North America by looking at the pictures? (Answers should relate to the variety of ecosystems across the continent.)
  • Why do you think there is such variety on a single continent?
  • How would you pack if you were going on a trip to all these locations? (This will lead to the next day's lesson focusing on the items acquired in preparation for the Lewis and Clark Expedition.)
Provide credit based on student ability to actively collaborate with a group and correct completion of the worksheet.

Extending/Modifying the Lesson:
  • Have students work in groups to create their own “Picture North America” activity using pictures of national parks. Have groups of four students create a packet of eight pictures. They will identify which national parks they wish to include after visiting the U.S. National Park Service website. Once they identify the parks they wish to highlight, they download a picture of each park after visiting the park’s official website. For each picture, students must prepare a caption that includes a description of the picture (including geographically correct terminology) and an accurate place name including the name of the park and the state in which it is located. They must also identify the latitude and longitude of the park using Google Earth. Students will submit the printed pictures and one page with the place cards and latitude/longitude cards. They will also include an answer key for their “Picture U.S. National Parks” activity using the original “Picture North America” worksheet. During a Family Geography Night, have parents complete the “Picture U.S. National Parks” activity under the direction of the students.
  • Use historical locations for the pictures (e.g., pictures along the Oregon Trail, home states of U.S. Presidents).
  • Instead of North America, use pictures from around the world (e.g., Egyptian pyramids, Grand Canyon, Sydney Opera House).
  • After completing the activity, have students research one of the locations from the activity by reading journal entries of the expedition members and viewing primary sources artifacts from the expedition. Have student prepare a foldable report or acrostic poem about their selected location.
  • Have students use traditional scales to measure distances between locations on the completed map. Have them check their work using Google Earth's "Measure" tool.
  • Have students study the various ecosystems depicted in the graphics.

Picture North America:
On the Trail of Lewis and Clark
Cards and Notes

Missouri River (Picture)
Latitude/Longitude: 38º47’ N 90º29’ W
Date visited: April 1804
Description: Lewis and Clark viewed the Missouri River from this same vantage point. The view enabled them to see the wide and powerful river that would take them west and bring them home again.
Journal Quote: “a fine morning Set out verry early, the murcery Stood 56° above 0. proceeded on to the mouth of the Little Missouri river and formed a Camp in a butifull elivated plain on the lower Side for the purpose of takeing Some observations to fix the Latitude & Longitude of this river. this river falls in on the L. Side and is 134 yards wide and 2 feet 6 Inches deep at the mouth, it takes its rise in the N W extremity of the black mountains, and through a broken countrey in its whole course washing the N W base of the Turtle Mountain which is Situated about 6 Leagues S W of its mouth, one of our men Baptiest who came down this river in a canoe informs me that it is not navagable, he was 45 days descending.
One of our men Shot a beaver Swimming below the mouth of this river.
I walked out on the lower Side of this river and found the countrey hilley the Soil composed of black mole & a Small perportion of Sand containing great quantity of Small peable Some limestone, black flint, & Sand Stone I killed a Hare Changeing its Colour Some parts retaining its long white fur & other parts assumeing the Short grey, I Saw the Magpie in pars, flocks of Grouse, the old field lark & Crows, & observed the leaf of the wild Chery half grown, many flowers are to be seen in the plains, remains of Minetarra & Ossinneboin hunting Camps are to be Seen on each Side of the two Missouris
The wind blew verry hard from the S. all the after part of the day, at 3 oClock P M. it became violent & flowey accompanied with thunder and a little rain. We examined our canoes &c found Several mice which had already commenced cutting our bags of corn & parched meal, the water of the little Missouri is of the Same texture Colour & quallity of that of the Big Missouri the after part of the day so Cloudy that we lost the evening observation.”
Mouth of the Platte River (Picture)
Latitude/Longitude: 41º15’ N 95º52’ W
Date visited: June 1804
Description: Extensive and mixed conifer and hardwood wetlands leave the water of the Platte River clear. This shallow river rolled rapidly over sands divided into a number of channels.
Journal Quote: "The wind lulled at seven o'clock, and we reached, in the rain, the mouth of the great river Platte…Captains Lewis and Clarke ascended the river in a periogue, for about one mile, and found the current very rapid; rolling over sands, and divided into a number of channels; none of which are deeper than five or six feet."
Wintering with the Mandans (Picture)
Latitude/Longitude: 46º55’ N 100º55’ W
Date visited: October 1804
Currently: Heart River, Stark County, North Dakota
Description: Due to extreme weather conditions still common in North Dakota (average highs and lows are between 5º and 30º in winter months), the Corps of Discovery joined the Mandan Indians for wintering. The Mandans and other native tribes submitted to annual winter truces enabling them to live in villages where they could easily trade and support each other. Their homes were mounds covered in sod.
Journal Quote: “we Set out arly Came too at this Village on the L. S. this village is Situated on an eminance of about 50 feet above the Water in a handson Plain it Containes houses in a kind of Picket work. the houses are round and Verry large Containing Several families, as also their horses which is tied on one Side of the enterance”
Mouth of the Yellowstone River (Picture)
Latitude/Longitude: 45º59’ N 107º57’ W
Date visited: April 1805
Current: Pompey’s Pillar
Description: Clark left his name and the date on what he called “Pompey’s Pillar,” named after Sacagawea’s son whom he nicknamed “Pomp.” Because the sandstone pillar is the only remaining physical evidence appearing on the trail today as it did 200 years ago, it is one of the most famous sandstone buttes in America. The pillar stands about 100’ above the Yellowstone River.
Journal Quote: "after I had completed my observations in the evening I walked down and joined the party at their encampment on the point of land formed by the junction of the rivers; found them all in good health, and much pleased at having arrived at this long wished for spot, and in order to add in some measure to the general pleasure which seemed to pervade our little community, we ordered a dram to be issued to each person; this soon produced the fiddle, and they spent the evening with much hilarity, singing & dancing, and seemed as perfectly to forget their past toils, as they appeared regardless of those to come." [Lewis.]
Marias River (Picture)
Latitude/Longitude: 48º19’ N 111º06’ W
Date visited: June 1805
Description: When the Lewis and Clark Expedition reached the fork in the Marias River, they were unable to determine weather they should take the northern or southern routes. After days of exploring both branches of the river, Lewis and Clark determined the southern route was most likely to lead toward the Rocky Mountains. Though the remaining Corps members disagreed with Lewis and Clark, they followed their leaders. The captains were correct.
Journal Quote: "It now became an interesting question, which of these two streams is what the Minnetarees call Ahmateahza, or Missouri, which they describe as approaching very near to the Columbia. On our right decision much of the fate of the expedition depends; since if, after ascending to the Rocky Mountains or beyond them, we should find that the river we were following did not come near the Columbia, and be obliged to return, we should not only lose the travelling season, two months of which have already elapsed, but probably dishearten the men so much as to induce them either to abandon the enterprise, or yield us a cold obedience, instead of the warm and zealous support which they have hitherto afforded us. We determined, therefore, to examine well before we decided on our future course. For this purpose we despatched two canoes with three men up each of the streams, with orders to ascertain the width, depth, and rapidity of the current, so as to judge of their comparative bodies of water. At the same time parties were sent out by land to penetrate the country, and discover from the rising grounds, if possible, the distant bearings of the two rivers; and all were directed to return toward evening. . . ."

Great Falls and Portage (Picture)
Latitude/Longitude: 47º30’ N 111º18’ W
Date visited: June 1805
Description: Except for wintering in the Mandan villages, the Corps made significant progress on their westward journey until they reached the Great Falls of modern-day Montana. The falls were so immense that the Expedition members spent over one month portaging around the falls.
Journal Quote: "In this direction captain Lewis had gone about two miles when his ears were saluted with the agreeable sound of a fall of water, and as he advanced a spray which seemed driven by the high southwest wind arose above the plain like a column of smoke and vanished in an instant. Towards this point he directed his steps, and the noise increasing as he approached soon became too tremendous to be mistaken for any thing but the great falls of the Missouri. Having travelled seven miles after first hearing the sound he reached the falls about twelve o'clock, the hills as he approached were difficult of access and two hundred feet high: down these he hurried with impatience and seating himself on some rocks under the centre of the falls, enjoyed the sublime spectacle of this stupendous object which since the creation had been lavishing its magnificence upon the desert, unknown to civilization."
Bitterroot Barrier (Picture)
Latitude/Longitude: 45º50’ N 113º59’ W
Date visited: September 1805
Description: Following the Great Falls portage, Lewis and Clark met their second major challenge of the Expedition — the Bitterroot Barrier. Snow fell early in the mountains and game was scarce. The difficult journey left the Corps starving and they had to kill and eat three colts to survive. Once they emerged from the mountains, the Nez Perce provided Corps members with dried fish and roots to replenish their exhausted and hungry bodies.
Journal Quote: "we met a part of the Flathead nation of 33 lodges about 80 men 400 Total and at least 500 horses, those people recved us friendly, threw white robes over our Sholders & Smoked in the pipes of the peace, we encamped with them & found them friendly... I was the first white man who ever wer on the waters of this river" (Captain Clark)
Cape Disappointment (Picture)
Latitude/Longitude: 46º13’ N 123º55’ W
Date visited: December 1805
Description: In December of 1805, Clark wrote in his journal: "Great joy in camp, we are in View of the Ocian, this great Pacific Octean which we been So long anxious to See." Though Cape Disappointment received its name in 1788 by a British sea captain seeking a wide mouthed river to travel westward, the Corps might have also called the region a disappointment. Though they were able to comfortably survive the winter months (with nearly constant rain), they had hoped to meet a ship for the return trip. The ship never arrived and the party had to return East by foot.
Journal Quote: In November of 1805, the U.S. Corps of Volunteers for Northwest Discovery, led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, reached the mouth of the mighty Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean at last. "Great joy in camp," Clark wrote in his journal, "we are in View of the Ocian, this great Pacific Octean which we been So long anxious to See." Lewis wrote: “… from this point I beheld the grandest and most pleasing prospects which my eyes ever surveyed, in my frount a boundless Ocean; . . . the Seas rageing with emence wave and brakeing with great force from the rocks of Cape Disappointment as far as I coud See to the N. W. . . . the nitches and points of high land which forms this Corse for a long ways aded to the inoumerable rocks of emence Sise out at a great distance from the Shore and against which the Seas brak with great force gives this Coast a most romantic appearance.”