Free History Studies: Lewis & Clark

Lewis and Clark were the explorers sent by Thomas Jefferson to explore the new territory gained in the Louisiana Purchase.

Read the current chapters online:

  • Map the following (you’ll find mapping resources below):
    • Missouri River
    • Rocky Mountains
    • Pacific Ocean
    • St. Louis, Missouri (where the expedition began)
    • Plot the trail Lewis and Clark took, following the description in the Book of Knowledge excerpt below.
    • The Louisiana Territory (draw the borders on a current map of the United States noting the 13 states or parts of states covered).
  • Lewis and Clark were gone 2 years and 4 months.  View this timeline of the key events of their trip for perspective.
  • How would you pack for such a long trip?  Read the packing list included with  Jefferson’s letter of instructions to Lewis.
  • Read this description to tally the game killed on the expedition.
  • Many of the animals spotted by Lewis and Clark were recorded for the first time for science.  Choose three animals from the list made from their log to investigate and create a notebooking page listing what you learn about them (you’ll find notebooking resources below).
  • They also recorded 178 plants.  Choose two or three plants to investigate and include in your notebook.
  • Narration:  Explain the Indians’ superstition and why the dead buffalo head could not eat the bowl of meat offered to it.
  • List and narrate the three different ways that men in Lewis and Clark’s time used to start a fire.
  • Narrate the story of Captain Clark falling from the sky and calling down fire to light the “peace pipe.”
  • More about Lewis and Clark from the Book of Knowledge:

    The most important event during the eight years Jefferson was president was the purchase of Louisiana.  In 1762 France had given to Spain all the territory France claimed west of the Mississippi.  In 1801 France took it back again, for Napoleon had a dream of founding new a French nation in the New World.  He had great trouble in the West Indies, however, and soon saw that the British fleet could destroy any colony that he might plant, and, besides, he needed all his money for his wars.  So he sold to the United States the whole territory, which was greater in size than the United States at that time, for $15,000,000.  This was called the Louisiana Purchase.  From it thirteen states, or parts of states, have been made….There were only about 40,000 people in this great territory, and many prominent men thought that it would be hundreds of years before it would have many settlers.  A hundred years after the purchase, the population of the whole region was more than 15,000,000, and the value of the crops raised and the goods manufactured every year was more than two hundred times as much as the price paid for the territory.Little was then known of the Pacific coast…. President Jefferson decided to send William Clark and Meriwether Lewis to explore this country….The Lewis and Clark expedition left St. Louis in 1804, went 1,600 miles up the Missouri River before winter set in, and the next spring went on until the river grew so small that a man could step across it.  They then crossed the Rocky Mountains and found another river.  They followed this to its mouth and it turned out to be the Columbia….  No white man had ever made this trip before them, and their exploration helped the United States to claim Oregon when the dispute with Britain over this territory arose many years afterward.”Building the New Nation,” The Book of Knowledge

Further Investigation

America Heads West
Background information for students from National Geographic.

Lewis and Clark
Interactive information from The Smithsonian.

Classroom Presentation — Fill Up the Canvas
Interactive multimedia presentation about the Lewis and Clark expedition at the Library of Congress.

Biography of Lewis’s Newfoundland dog that accompanied the explorers at


Missouri Map/Quiz Printout

Interactive Map Maker {Free}
Make your own maps.

Animated Atlas of the United States {Freebie}
This interactive provides a great visual of the impact the Louisiana Purchase had regarding the size of the territory of the United States.

Go West Across America with Lewis and Clark
National Geographic interactive game where you make the decisions.

Lewis and Clark’s Scientific Discoveries
Interactive from the National Park Service.

Free History Studies: Lewis & Clark

Seaman’s Journal by Patricia Reeder Eubank
Published by Ideals, this picture book tells the story from Lewis’s dog’s point of view.

Free History Studies: Lewis & Clark

How We Crossed the West: The Adventures of Lewis and Clark by Rosalyn Schanzer
Our favorite book on the Lewis and Clark expedition for younger readers.  A beautifully illustrated book that relies on the explorers’ journals to tell the story.

“Jefferson — How the Door into the Far West was Opened”
Chapter from This Country of Ours by H.E. Marshall.

Unit Studies & Lesson Plans

Explorers of the Pacific Northwest
148-page guide from the Bureau of Land Management featuring Lewis and Clark among others.  Includes background history and information, timeline, maps, coloring pages, questions for discussion, and many other activities.

“We Proceed On”: Lewis and Clark
Unit study created by the students at Dordt College covering the history of the expedition along with literature, writing, geography, science, mathematics, Bible, and physical education.

Lewis and Clark: Lesson Plans
Several lesson plans at covering the men, the Indians, and mapping.

On This Day with Lewis and Clark
Lesson plan from the National Endowment of the Humanities with five activities using primary sources to explore the expedition.

Animal Encounters
Lesson plan from the Smithsonian examining William Clark’s description of the various animals they saw.

Printables & Notebooking Pages

United States Map map for locating St. Louis, the Missouri River, Rocky Mountains, Pacific Ocean, Lewis and Clark’s trail, and the Louisiana Territory.

Lewis and Clark Trail Map
Great map for notebook from the Thomas Jefferson Foundation.

Lewis and Clark
Informational coloring page for notebook from Crayola.

Lewis and Clark Coloring Page
Also sighting the Pacific.  Samples from The Lewis and Clark Coloring Book from Dover Publications.

Meriweather Lewis
Coloring page for notebook from

William Clark
Coloring page for notebook from (scroll to bottom).

Drawing & Writing Notebooking Paper {Free Download}
For drawing/illustrating an animal or plant and including a description.

Lewis and Clark Notebooking Pages
Simple pages for copywork, narrations, or wrapping up.

Enjoy the complete series:
Free History Studies: Stories of Great Americans
Free History Studies: Stories of Great Americans

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