Western Expansion for Kids Illustration

Western Expansion

FOR TEACHERS: Western Expansion FREE Use Lesson Plans, Classroom Activities, Projects, Simulations, and Units, before and after the Civil War, for use in the classroom

Unit: Western Expansion, a unit plan, 52 pages

Project: Western Expansion Project - Group activity, Searching for Gold, Pioneers Traveling by Wagon, Member of Cherokee Nation Forced to Oklahoma, Slave Escaping from South Carolina to New York, with templates for student use. Clear instructions.

Projects: Western Expansion - Projects, handouts, pretest

Projects: Western Expansion Projects

Unit: Western Expansion Unit, Free lesson plans with activities 8th grade

Unit: Western Expansion, 8th grade unit

Americans Move West, 9 lessons, designed for grade 2 but great ideas for grades 2-6, free download, Core Knowledge

Western Expansion Before the Civil War, designed for grade 5 but can be adjusted, free download, Core Knowledge

Western Expansion After the Civil War, designed for grade 5 but can be adjusted, free download, Core Knowledge

Growing Pains, Western Expansion

Western Expansion Crash Course #24 (video)

Free LESSON PLANS with Classroom activities

A New Nation and The Louisiana Purchase

The Louisiana Purchase 1803, lesson plans

Thomas Jefferson - Proud Patriot, Founding Father, lesson plan

Thomas Jefferson on the Sedition Act, lesson plan

Manifest Destiny

What is Manifest Destiny? (4 pages lesson plan, 9 pages student resources, museumca)

Manifest Destiny Assignment Rubic

Manifest Destiny lesson plan, 8th grade

Mexican American War and Manifest Destiny (mrdonn)

Lewis and Clark 1804

Lewis and Clark, lesson plan with activities

Lewis and Clark, teaching units and lesson plans

On This Day with Lewis and Clark, lesson plan

American Indians and Western Expansion 1831-1877

American Indians and Western Expansion - What happens when cultures collide? Teaching Guide (Scoll down to find very useful information, photos, and video clips)

Trail of Tears - Indian Removal

Texas Revolution 1835-36

Causes of the Texas Revolution, Debate, with handouts

The Texas Revolution, lesson plans

Texas Revolution lesson plans (also Spanish Texas and Mexican Texas)

Texas Revolution - Remember the Alamo (for kids)

The Alamo

Lesson Plans and Resources for Teachers

Primary Sources, Lesson Plans

Oregon Trail, Wagon Trains - 1840-1880

Simulation: Decision Making on a Wagon Train

Free Complete Termatic Unit - Oregon Trail with activities

If you were a pioneer on the Oregon Trail, lesson plan

Headin' West - 2-3 weeks activity

Get Ready:

  • Risk vs. Gain - Brainstorm a list of reasons why people would be willing to risk everything to move west

  • Photo Analysis, Painting Analysis - Ask students: What do you think these early pioneers brought with them?

  • Pack your bags - Wagon Trains. Work in groups. Have groups decide what they will need to bring in one wagon per family. Watch your weight!

Forgotten Stories of the Oregon Trail, free lesson plans and activities

Pioneer Life and the Frontier

Life as a Pioneer

Who Wants to be a Pioneer?

A Child's Life on the Frontier - lesson plan, downloads, activities

Pioneers Find Fun, lesson plan

Lesson Plan- Utah Pioneers

Pioneer Life - Canada

Great Ideas for Activities

PBS - Frontier House- Resources- Lesson Plans

Frontier Life in Iowa Lesson Plans

Life at a Frontier Fort, lesson plan

Life on the Tennessee Frontier, lesson plan and activities

Western Expansion, Life in the West, lesson plan using primary resources

Mexican-American War 1846-48

Texas Annexation and the Mexican-American War, lesson plan

Mexican-American War lesson plans

Growth of a Nation - Mexican American War, free lesson plans, classroom activities

The Mexican American War on YouTube (many)

Role Play with multiple characters for the classroom, free download, but you need to set up an account

The Mexican American War - background, event leading up to the Civil War

Mexican-American War 1846, background and storyboard activity for students

Mexican-American War

Essential Question:  After the expansion of US territory as a result of the Mexican-American War, was the Civil War inevitable?

California Gold Rush, 1848

Activity: Gold Seekers Brochure - Entice miners west so that you can benefit from their work, with handouts

California Gold Rush, lesson plan

To The California Gold Rush, lesson plan and activities

California Gold Rush lesson plan with six video clips

The Gold Rush - Simulation for the Classroom

Gold Mining Camp - Simulation for the Classroom

Outlaws, Law and Order

Outlaws of the American West, lesson plan using primary resources

Effects of Western Expansion

Effects of Western Expansion - takeaways

How did the US get so big? The effects of Western Expansion, lesson plan

The Homestead Act 1862 and Land Use

Learning About the Homestead Act, lesson plan

Land Use, mini-unit, 5 lesson plans

Homesteading by the Numbers, what effect did the Homestead Act have on western expansion, lesson plan

Mr. Donn's Lesson Idea
Critical Thinking

The Homestead Act gave 160 acres to whomever agreed to settle in the west and work their land.
Speculate why the offer was only 160 acres.

The Transcontinental Railroad 1869 & the Pony Express

The Pony Express, lesson plan using primary resources

I Hear the Locomotives: The Impact of the Transcontinental Railroad

Chinese Immigrants on the Trans-Continental Railroad, lesson plan using primary resources

The Transcontinental Railroad, lesson plan

Western Expansion, Native Americans and the Railroads, after the Civil War, lesson plans

Cattle Drives and Cowboys 1865-1885

What changed ranching in the old west? lesson plan

Lesson Plans - Create a branding symbol, story map, cause and effect, photo analysis

Cowboys and Cattle Drives 1865-1885

Western Expansion after the Civil War

Western Expansion, After the Civil War - includes Railroads, Clash of Cultures, more, lesson plans and activities

Reasons for Western Expansion

Reasons for Western Expansion, right before, during, and after the Civil War, with primary documents and activities

Games and More

Choose Your Own Adventure from over 70 different classroom activities and possible assignments

For Kids - Free learning modules, interactive games, meaningful activities

Games: Many Interactives and Games, flash games have been removed

Free Learning Modules

Index of Free Learning Modules for Western Expansion

A New Nation - Jefferson and the New Republic

Louisiana Purchase

Lewis & Clark

War of 1812 & The Star Spangled Banner

Manifest Destiny

Life on the Oregon Trail, Wagon Trains

Santa Fe Trail

Pioneer Life on the Frontier

Andrew Jackson

Indian Removal, Trail of Tears

The Alamo 1836, The Texas Revolution

Mexican - American War 1846-1848

California Gold Rush

Communication - US Postal Service, Pony Express, the Telegraph and Morse Code

The Homestead Act

Coming of the Railroad - The Transcontinental Railroad

Western Indian Wars


Cowboys in the Old West