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Extra! Extra! Lewis and Clark Explore America

Presidential Historical Review Committee


Congratulations! You have been selected as the class to help our nation celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. In the year 2004 the United States will be establishing a National Holiday to commemorate the contribution of these heroic explorers. Your job is to produce, in team, a Special Edition Newspaper highlighting the Lewis and Clark Expedition. One newspaper from your class will be chosen by the Presidential Historical Review Committee to be printed and distributed across our nation. We look forward to visiting your classroom and listening to the exciting presentations of your newspaper.



Presidential Historical Review Committee




You will work in a small group selected by your teacher. Each group will work together to produce one historically accurate newspaper from the point of view of different roles. Follow these steps carefully.

1. Answer Who, What, Where, When and Why (5 W's) for background information.

2. The groups will be formed of 5 students, each with a different role.

3. Choose one role: [see below for explanation of these roles]

  • Historian
  • Journalist
  • Cartographer/Illustrator
  • Biographer
  • Scientist
4. Complete research related to the roles through exploring Internet links and related research materials such as your textbook, encyclopedias, books from your library, and CD Roms.
5. Write one feature story in newspaper style from the point of view of your role. Don't forget the 5 W's! Illustrate each article with a picture, actual photo, or map.
6. Write one editorial (your opinion supported by facts), with each student choosing a different topic.
7. Combine your articles and editorials into a group newspaper. Don't forget a catchy headline.



There are three main parts to this project:

Step 1: Gaining background knowledge
Step 2: Collecting information
Step 3: Writing and assembling the newspaper

Step 1: Gaining Background Knowledge

Before working on your role, check that you and everyone in your group understand the basic facts behind the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Use the links listed after the questions to find the information. Answer the 5 W's in your Research Journal.

1. Who?
2. What?
3. Where?
4. When?
5. Why?
Lewis & Clark

Step 2: Collecting Information

This is where you take on one of the roles and explore the related Internet links. Have fun. Look for interesting and important people and events. Be prepared for surprises.

1. Choose one role.
2. Investigate the links related to your role.
3. Take notes, draw pictures and maps in your research journal.
4. Note the Internet location (URL) of each site.


Learning links


Background information on the Louisiana Purchase and the reasons for the expedition. 

Lewis and Clark at PBS
Louisiana Purchase (Primary Source)
Jefferson's Letter (Primary Source)


Relate first-hand experience of crossing the U.S.

L&C at Three Forks
L&C at the Gates of the Rocky Mountains
L&C at the Falls of the Missouri
L&C at the Yellowstone River


Uncover maps of the area and the trails

Activated Map (Take the Journey)
Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Homepage

Find illustrations of the expedition. Be sure to have a caption for each picture.

Pompey's Pillar

Fort Clatsop


Choose one person or group of people to research. Your teacher may choose to assign a different person for each newspaper. Focus on the contribution the person made to the trip. You may include details from their early life that prepared the person for the trip.

William Clark
Meriwether Lewis

Sacajawea, and the slave, York

Describe the Indian tribes met along their way and the encounters with the expedition


Nez Perce


What kinds of plant and animal species did the expedition find? What types of transportation did they use?


Plants and Animals

Step 3: Writing and Assembling the Newspaper

Now is the time to take your notes and write your article and editorial from your role's point of view. Proofread, edit, and produce a final copy. Take these articles and editorials from each person in the group and assemble them into a historical newspaper with graphics and a headline. Your group will produce one newspaper.

Editorial Topics(Choose one)

1. Why was this expedition so important to America?
2. Who do you admire most on the expedition and why?
3. Did Thomas Jefferson get a good deal on the purchase of this land?
4. What were the most important discoveries of the expedition?
5. Compare the land covered by the expedition 200 years ago to the same land today.



To stay organized keep a research journal with you at the computer. Start with the 5 W's overview and then take notes on your roles. Keep track of where you got your information by writing down the Internet location URL (http://www.........) Draw pictures and sketches of people, maps, etc. as you research. Share daily your obtained information with your group and help each other edit and proofread the newspaper articles. Use your time wisely at the computer so you can find all the necessary information in the time your teacher has given you.



You will be evaluated using a rubric developed in class and based on your completion and performance in the following areas.
  • Step 1 Background knowledge - 5W's
  • Step 2 Research Journal
  • Step 3 Written articles and editorial Reflection Paragraph



Present your newspaper in teams to the Presidental Historical Review Committee. You may want to wear a costume befitting your role. After the presentations, participate in a class discussion using the questions below:

Was there a water route to link the trading ports in the Northeast?
What natural obstacles were in the way?
Were the Indian tribes in the West more hostile than the Natives in the East?
What scientific and geographic information did the expedition gather?

What an adventure the Lewis and Clark Expedition was! Through looking closely at the history of the expedition, the journals of Lewis and Clark, and the landmarks of the trail, I hope you have a better understanding of how the United States grew and the courageous people that helped develop our nation. The Lewis and Clark Expedition proved to be the key in opening up the western lands to expansion.



Be prepared to answer in a paragraph the next questions in your journal.

  • What would it have been like to be a member of the expedition?
  • How has the land and environment changed since the expedition?
  • What did you learn about the expedition that surprised you?
  • What advice would you give to another class just beginning this activity?



Lesson Purpose:

Recognize that with the Louisiana Purchase the U.S. expanded westward.
Describe the adventures and hardships faced by Lewis and Clark.
Identify contributions the expedition made to America.


The student will:
  • learn the history of the expedition.
  • write one newspaper article on details of the expedition.
  • write an opinion editorial about the significance of the expedition.
  • utilize the Internet for research.
  • analyze primary source documents.
  • work cooperatively in small groups.

H/SS Standards, Grade 5: Students draw from maps, biographies, and journals of explorers to describe explorations of the trans-Mississippi West following the Louisiana Purchase (e.g., Lewis & Clark).

Language Arts Standards, Grade 5: Reading Comprehension: Students read and understand grade-level-appropriate material. They discern main ideas and concepts presented in texts, identifying and assessing evidence that supports those ideas; draw inferences, conclusions, or generalizations about text and support them with textual evidence; [and] distinguish among facts, supported inferences, and opinions in text. Students read and respond to historically or culturally significant works of world literature, particularly [biography].

Writing Strategies: Students write narrative, expository, persuasive, and descriptive text of at least 500 to 700 words. Student writing demonstrates a command of standard English. Students create a multiple-paragraph expository composition that establishes a topic, key ideas or events in sequence and/or chronological order, provides details and transitional expression which link paragraph to paragraph in a clear line of thought, [and] offers a concluding paragraph that summarizes the key ideas and details.

Listening and Speaking: Students deliver focused, coherent presentations that convey ideas clearly and relate to the background and interests of the audience. They ask questions that seek information not already discussed; make inferences or draw conclusions based on an oral report. They evaluate the content of oral communication.

Information Literacy Skills:

Students will collect, analyze, and evaluate sources.
Students will compare data collected.
Students will make decisions within a small group based on the data.
Students will summarize and form opinions in the form of editorials.
Students will use problem solving skills to organize a newspaper.
Students will organize material for a presentation.

Length of Lesson: It is recommended that one to two weeks are needed if you integrate the writing with your English and computer time with your Social Studies. Lack of computer availability may require more time. Students could write the articles outside of class once research is completed, but need class time to proofread articles and assemble the newspaper.

Resources or materials needed:

Class Resources (5th grade level)

The Value of Adventure -The Story of Sacagawea by Anne Donegan

The Incredible Journey of Lewis & Clark by Rhoda Blumberg

Sacagawea - The Story with art lessons (Scholastic) by Raphael & Bolognese

The Lewis & Clark Expedition Coloring Book (Dover) by Peter Copeland

Teacher Resources

Undaunted Courage - Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson and the Opening of the American West by Stephen E. Ambrose

The Journals of Lewis and Clark by John Blakeless

Exploring the West from Monticello:
Meriwether Lewis: The Man, The Life


Notebook or binder paper with a cover for the Research Journal
White drawing paper (12 x 18) and art supplies

Students may create the newspaper using a word processing program in columns such as The Writing Center, ClarisWorks, or Microsoft Works. Graphics may be inserted using clip art or saved pictures from the Internet.

Background information that might be helpful: Students need to have several skills to be successful in this activity. Introducing types of newspaper articles, using the 5 W's, and writing opinion editorials need to be taught as writing styles. The activity assumes the students can access and navigate the Internet and work in cooperative groups. It may help to save computer time during research by grouping all students with the same role. For example, the Historians could gather at the computer and look up the Internet links together. The Biographer role could be assigned for more than one student in the group if you need more roles for groups of different sizes.

Adaptions for special needs students: Assign roles that have easier Internet links to research such as the Biographers or the Cartographer. Pair the special needs students to do research. Set the groups up to accommodate pairing.

Interdisciplinary connections:

Calculate the actual distance traveled, months and weeks traveled
Language Arts:
Read biographies of Lewis, Clark, Jefferson, and Sacagawea
Write a final report to President Jefferson from Lewis and
Clark's point of view.
animal habitats and introduce the Grizzly Bear
river watersheds
plants as medicine, Indian herbal remedies
Missouri River, Columbia River, Rocky Mountains, Western States

Name: Susan Boilon
School/Dist.: West Cottonwood Jr. High, Cottonwood SD
CHSSP-SCORE Technology Academy 1997
Reviewed for accuracy by Dr. Al Rocca, Simpson College

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Last revised 7/16/03