Lewis and Clark Expedition Lesson Plan: What Was It Like to Be Sacajawea?

Submitted by: Angela Watson

Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12, K-3

In this lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades K-12, students use BrainPOP Jr. and/or BrainPOP resources to explore the role of Sacajawea in the Lewis and Clark expedition. Students will explain how the expedition affected Sacajawea, her family, and other American Indians, and compose a journal entry from Sacajawea’s point of view.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Identify the role of Sacajawea in the Lewis and Clark expedition
  2. Explain how the expedition affected Sacajawea, her family, and other American Indians
  3. Compose a journal entry from Sacajawea's point of view

Materials:

  • Internet access for BrainPOP
  • LCD projector to show BrainPOP resources to the class
  • Photocopies of the Graphic Organizer and/or Activity (optional)

Vocabulary:

Sacajawea; Meriwether Clark; William Clark; expedition; Louisiana Purchase; corps; navigate; encounter; fort; translator; trek; accurate; species; point of view; perspective

Preparation:

Make a class set of photocopies of the Graphic Organizer and/or Activity if you choose to use them. Select an image of Sacajawea to show the class and determine which, if any, journal excerpts from Lewis and Clark are appropriate to share with your students. The third quote from the bottom (about Sacajawea begging to see the ocean for the first time) should be appropriate for all age levels and can be used to facilitate an important discussion about Sacajawea's role and treatment during the expedition.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Show an image of Sacajawea and ask the class if they know who she is. Students may guess Pocahontas, in which case you can clarify that Pocohontas assisted colonial settlers at Jamestown, and inform the class that this woman also assisted the settlers at another point in time.
  2. After students have identified Sacajawea, brainstorm what they know or think they know about her. You may want to project one of BrainPOP Educator's Graphic Organizers such as the KWL chart and type students' responses directly into it.
  3. Tell the class you're going to show a BrainPOP movie called Lewis and Clark which tells about the expedition to explore the American west. Instruct students to listen carefully for Sacajawea's role. Play the BrainPOP Jr. Movie for primary grade students and the BrainPOP Movie for older classes.
  4. Talk with students about what Sacajewea experienced. What might it have felt like to be pulled away from her tribe? Was it ethical for Lewis and Clark to bring her along? Do you think Sacajawea was excited about helping Lewis and Clark? Was bringing her baby on the expedition a wise decision? What might her reunion with her tribe have been like? Are there other questions they would like to have answered about Sacajawea's experiences?
  5. Explain that Lewis and Clark kept extensive journal records about their expedition. You can show a photograph of a journal page from their records and read students an excerpt about Sacajawea.
  6. Explain that we don't know for sure how Sacajewea thought and felt about assisting on the expedition because only Lewis and Clark kept journals. Ask students to work independently, in pairs, or in groups to compose a journal entry sharing what they think Sacajawea's opinions would have been. They may want to write about a typical day on the expedition, or about her thoughts regarding the separation from her tribe and husband.
  7. Allow student volunteers to read their journal entries to the class and facilitate a discussion about their writing and opinions.
  8. For additional practice, review, and/or assessment, have students complete the Activity, Graphic Organizer, and/or take the quiz associated with the movie.

Extension Activity:

Explore the other movie topics in BrainPOP Jr.'s Native Americans Unit and/or BrainPOP's U.S. History Unit . You may want to have students keep a history journal in which they write a series of journal entries from the point of view of various historical figures.