Analyzing Assessing and Revising
Connecting to History and Culture
Communication and Collaboration
From 1803 until 1805, explorers Lewis and Clark, under the charge of President Thomas Jefferson, set out to map and explore land obtained through the Louisiana Purchase. Not only were they explorers, they were also historians, as they and other members of the Corps of Discovery recorded their discoveries of new plants, animals, and people in journals. In this lesson, students take on the roles of Lewis and Clark, as they explore the original journals and create journals of their own.
Be exposed to oral and written history of the Lewis and Clark expedition
Research the original journals of the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery using primary Resources
Select and research one plant and one animal species identified by the two explorers
Create detailed drawings and write an observation of selected plant and animal
Species in their environments in a nature journal
Comprehensive Arts Education
Group or Individual Instruction
What You'll Need
1 Computer per Classroom
1 Computer per Learner
Review the history of Lewis, Clark, and the Corps of Discovery. Possible resources include:
excerpts from The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (edited by Gary E. Moulton), especially those addressing plant and animal encounters and discoveries (requires Flash Player).
illustrated pages from the Lewis and Clark journals.
Become familiar with the
original journals of Lewis and Clark, specifically dates addressing plants and animals. You can direct students to particular dates if research time is limited (for example, one time period rich in discoveries was September 5-18, 1804).
If students will not have access to computers for journal research, obtain print resources of the journals from the library for student use or schedule time in the library or computer lab for student research.
Obtain and review
Plants on the Trail with Lewis and Clark and Animals on the Trail with Lewis and Clark, both by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent.
Nature Journaling Prior Student Knowledge
Students should be familiar with:
Media Center or Library
Large Group Instruction
Students with physical disabilities may need modified movements.
Resources in Reach
Here are the resources you'll need for each activity, in order of instruction.
1. Play an A possible selection is May 29, 1805.
audio excerpt from one of Lewis or Clark’s journals. NOTE: Do not show the excerpt. Allow audio only.
2. Ask follow-up questions about the excerpt.
Who may be writing this?
Where are they?
What is the purpose of this writing?
How does the writer feel at the time of this writing?
What type of writing is this?
What is something that you may write that may be similar in style?
3. Play the audio again, and this time, show the text of the excerpt.
4. Ask follow-up questions about the written excerpt.
What is unusual about this writing?
What can you determine about the writer?
Is it beneficial for the reader to see the writing in its original, uncorrected, form?
Why or why not?
1. Introduce journals as one type of primary resource (first-hand recordings of a historical event). Discuss other types of primary resources (interviews, photographs, video recordings, audio recordings, etc.)
2. Share Discuss the importance of the written word, the role of the illustrations, and how they work together to create a complete document. select pages of Lewis and Clark journals.
3. Introduce or review the historic exploration of Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery. Explain that one of the goals of the exploration was to record new discoveries, including those of plants and animals. (The level of detail for this part of the lesson will depend on curriculum objectives for this age/grade level.)
1. Explore the Using online or print resources, ask students to look for journal recordings of plants and animals encountered during the expedition. (Depending on the source, they may or may not be illustrated.) If time is limited, direct students to specific time spans for exploration. original journals of Lewis and Clark.
2. Ask each student to research one animal and one plant discovered during the Lewis and Clark journey. The Research Guide handout, listing areas of research, is available within the Resource Carousel. Areas of research should include, but are not limited to:
The common name of the plant or animal
The scientific name of the plant or animal
The date it was first discovered or noted by the Corps of Discovery
The location it was found by the Corps of Discovery
What the journal writer said about the plant or animal
A reproduction of the illustration by the journal writer
What the author thought it might be
The current status of the plant or animal (common, endangered, extinct, protected)
Physical characteristics of the plant or animal that would help someone else identify it
Students should present their findings informally in a classroom discussion. Create a list of reported plants and animals.
3. Create nature journals. Each student will create a nature journal to capture personal observations of the natural world in a future lesson step. Students can make these journals from repurposed notebooks or composition books or create them from raw materials (paper, cardboard, leather, fabric, string, yarn, etc.) The detail is up to the teacher. (This may be a good part of the lesson to do in collaboration with the art instructor.) Resources are provided at the end of this lesson.
4. Record an event or observation in nature in the student nature journals just like Lewis and Clark did. Ask students to observe and record an object or event in the natural world using words and illustrations. This could be a plant, an animal, an animal home, tracks, scat, a land formation, the weather, etc. The observation could occur during a class field trip experience or nature walk in or around school property or at a nearby natural area. The nature journal entry should include but is not limited to:
Visual description (in narrative form, 3-4 sentences in length)
Other sensory observations (smell, hear, touch with caution, do not taste)
Illustration of observation/object
1. Present journal entries to class. Individually, ask students to read their journal entries aloud to the class. Ask the class to try to determine -- by the words only -- what event or object the journal writer (or naturalist) recorded. The writer can then reveal the illustration for the class for confirmation (or non-confirmation). Offer constructive criticism to the journal entry author for improvement. (Record guess, actual journal entry, and score on the Peer Review form.)
2. Record a second event or observation. Repeat the recording process as a homework assignment. Have students present their journal entries to the class. Did the author improve on his or her recording ability?
3. Discuss the use of primary resources (such as nature journals) today to record observations and events.
4. Have students review each other's work using the Assessment Rubric located within the Resource Carousel.
Extending the Learning
1. Compare two or more entries by Lewis, Clark, and the Corps of Discoveries for a single date.
2. Analyze a journal from a non-traditional source, such as Seaman, the dog on the Lewis and Clark expedition.
3. Write original journal entries as a member of the Corps of Discovery.
4. Continue to record observations and events in nature in journals.
Throughout the nation, standards of learning are being revised, published and adopted. During this time of transition, ARTSEDGE will continually add connections to the Common Core, Next Generation Science standards and other standards to our existing lessons, in addition to the previous versions of the National Standards across the subject areas.
The Arts Standards used in ARTSEDGE Lessons are the 1994 voluntary national arts standards. The Arts learning standards were revised in 2014; please visit the
National Core Arts Standards ( http://nationalartsstandards.org) for more. The Kennedy Center is working on developing new lessons to connect to these standards, while maintaining the existing lesson library aligned to the Common Core, other state standards, and the 1994 National Standards for Arts Education.
Lessons connect to the National Standards for Arts Education, the Common Core Standards, and a range of other subject area standards.
Common Core/State Standards
Select state and grade(s) below, then click "Find" to display Common Core and state standards.