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Mapping the West
What to Know
Teaching Time
2 40-minute class periods
Grade Level
Elementary School
  • Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening
  • Geography
  • History
Historical Period
  • Expansion and Reform - 1801-1855
One of Jefferson's objectives for the Lewis and Clark expedition was to obtain more accurate information about the geography of western North America. Although Lewis had experience as an explorer and outdoorsman, he did not have surveying skills. Thus, Jefferson sent him to Pennsylvania to work with Andrew Ellicott and John Patterson, experts in surveying and mathematics. Lewis then purchased the most advanced surveying equipment available in the metropolis of Philadelphia. After the expedition returned, a new map of the West, developed by Lewis and Clark, was included in the account of the trip published in Philadelphia.


Students will: 1. discover differences between first-hand observation and second-hand description. 2. discuss the benefits of technology/tools in map-making. 3. analyze historical maps of the West. 4. determine how Americans' perception of the geographical features of the West changed following the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Standards Alignment

  • Geography

    7.1.3 B. Identify and locate places and regions.
    7.1.3 A. Identify geographic tools and their uses

  • History

    8.1.3 B. Develop an understanding of historical sources.
    8.3.3. A. Identify contributions of individuals and groups to United States history.
    8.3.3. B. Identify and describe primary documents, material artifacts and historic sites important in United States history.
    8.3.3 C. Identify important changes in United States history.

  • Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening

    1.4.3. B. Write informational pieces.

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