Louisiana Purchase Map Assignment

Lessons, Activities & Resources Examine the First Transcontinental Journey to the Pacific Coast

By Phil Nast, retired middle school teacher and freelance writer

Found In: language arts & literature, social studies, 6-8

Lesson Plans

Trade and Property
In this unit, students in grades 4-6 use primary and secondary resources to understand successful trade interactions between the Lewis and Clark expedition and the Chinook tribes. In a culminating project, they apply their understanding of trade concepts to design a product that offers advice to traders who follow in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark.

In this unit, students in grades 4-6 learn how Lewis and Clark and American Indians used plants to cure and heal, discover how many products we use today derive from plants, and create simple herbal remedies. In a culminating project, they create a medicine box or bag from plants.

The Lewis & Clark Expedition: Documenting the Uncharted Northwest
Students in grades 5-12 describe some of the challenges and successes that the Corps of Discovery experienced at various stages of its journey and explain the historical implications of the Louisiana Purchase.

Native Americans of the Lewis and Clark Trail
Students in grades 6-12 gather and present information about Native American tribes encountered by the Corps of Discovery expedition.

Additional Lesson Plans


Lewis & Clark
Experience westward expansion with explorers Lewis & Clark and start your own adventures!

Lewis and Clark: Into the Unknown | PBS
In this interactive, students lead the expedition into the unknown heart of North America.

Background Resources

Lewis & Clark Journal

The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
Searchable full-text (almost five thousand pages) of the journals. Also included are a gallery of images, important supplemental texts, and audio files of selected passages plus Native American perspectives. Designed as a tool for scholars and an engaging website for the general public.

The Trail Route

Lewis and Clark Expedition, A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary
Explore the historic places of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. A printer friendly version with text and maps is available.

History with a tribal perspective, along trails followed by Lewis & Clark
Click on a name of a tribe or tribal group to explore culture and history.

Follow in the Footsteps of Lewis and Clark - Sierra Club
Compare the Lewis & Clark Trail then and now.


Rivers, Edens, Empires: Lewis & Clark and the Revealing of America (Library
of Congress Exhibition)
The exhibition features the Library's collections of exploration material documenting the quest to connect the East and the West by means of a waterway passage. Virtual tour and animations have been recently added.

Lewis & Clark: Mapping the West
This site sets the historical stage, features online access to Lewis & Clark maps and other primary resources, and provides related activities and lesson plans.

Newberry Library: Lewis and Clark Exhibition
This website explores how the United States and Indian peoples along the expedition route, came together two hundred years ago and how they remain intertwined today.


Discovering Lewis & Clark
This comprehensive site includes essays on celestial navigation used by Lewis & Clark.

Lewis and Clark | PBS
Companion guide to the Ken Burn’s film.

Lewis & Clark: The National Bicentennial Exhibition
Take a virtual journey with Lewis & Clark.


Printables & Videos



The Louisiana Purchase has been described as the “greatest real estate deal in history.” In 1803, The United States government purchased the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon I of France for 60 million Francs, or, about $15,000,000. $11,250,000 was paid directly and the remainder was covered by French debt to U.S. citizens.

The Louisiana Purchase was consummated in order to secure free navigation of the Mississippi River. President Jefferson sent two negotiators – James Monroe and Robert Livingston to France to convince Napoleon I to sell the city of New Orleans. Time was of the essence because many viewed Napoleon’s acquisition of the Louisiana Territory as a means to invade the United States. Surprisingly, Napoleon offered not only New Orleans, but the entire Louisiana Territory for sale. Because a constitutional amendment authorizing the acquisition would take too long, and because Napoleon wanted the deal finalized quickly, Jefferson held the issue to a vote. Americans overwhelmingly voted in favor of purchasing the Louisiana Territory. Its 800,000 square mile area quickly doubled the size of the United States. Soon after the acquisition, Jefferson sent Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on an expedition through the new lands in which hundreds of new animals were discovered as well as Native American tribes and a route to the Pacific Ocean.

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