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Monday, March 23, 2015

Resources for Teaching Lewis and Clark and Exploration

A long time ago, I posted a survey asking folks to name their “top ten” events in Montana history. (I’m no longer tabulating answers, but the survey is still a thought-provoking exercise for you and your students.) 

I discussed the survey results here and here

I also promised posts featuring resources for teaching the events/topics we collectively selected as “most significant.” And I started to. I posted about resources for teaching about homesteading, the gold rush, and railroads. But then I stopped, because the event voted next significant was “Lewis and Clark.” Maybe it’s a legacy of my St. Louis upbringing, where Lewis and Clark were deified, but I’m not a huge fan. My own personal opinion is that they were wayfarers, who barely had an impact on Montana (heresy, I know.) But for those of you who think differently (in other words, most of you!), below are resources for teaching about Lewis and Clark and exploration more generally.

Resources for Teaching about Lewis and Clark and Exploration 

My favorite exploration related activity is having students find their latitude using a homemade sextant. See the lesson plan “Navigating by the North Star” for instructions.

"When Worlds Collide: The Salish People Encounter the Lewis and Clark Expedition" is a flexible one- to four-day learning activity designed to challenge students to grapple with historical evidence and to better recognize the complexity of native-white encounters.


Looking for primary sources? “American Journeys—EyewitnessAccounts of Early American Exploration and Settlement: A Digital Library andLearning Center” is a remarkable, searchable, sortable, digitized collection. It contains “more than 18,000 pages of eyewitness accounts of North American exploration, from the sagas of Vikings in Canada in AD1000 to the diaries of mountain men in the Rockies 800 years later.”

Last, but certainly not least is the University of Nebraska website, "Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition." According to the TeachingHistory.org review, 
"The site provides the complete text of all the journals from the 1803–1806 expedition, as well as introductions, prefaces, and sources. The material is searchable by keyword and phrase.
There are 29 scholarly essays about the expedition. An image gallery offers 124 images of pages from the journals, 95 images of people and places, and 50 images of plants and animals encountered on the expedition. The maps section includes 12 explanatory maps and nine images of maps from the journals. Additionally, there are 27 audio excerpts of journal readings and eight video interviews with the editor of the project."


Elementary Resources
 Elementary teachers, particularly, should see our hands-on history footlocker Discover the Corps of Discovery: The Lewis and Clark Expedition in Montana, which traces the Corps' journey through Montana and their encounters with American Indians. It includes bison hide, trade goods, books, and more! You can preview the user guide here and learn more about how to order the footlocker here.  

Middle and High School Resources
As always, a good starting place for lesson plans is the Montana: Stories of the Land Companion Website and Teachers Guide, where we've not only posted free PDFs of every chapter of our award-winning middle school textbook, but have also posted worksheets and links to lesson plans and other interesting web resources. For Lewis and Clark and exploration more generally, you'll want to see Chapter 4: "Newcomers Explore the Region." And the Chapter 4 Educator Page is particularly rich. 

Did I miss your favorite Lewis and Clark resource? If so, let me know and I'll share in a future post.

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