Westward Expansion, when pioneers and the United States moved Westward to lands where Native Americans had been living for years, is a fascinating feat to study with students. Capture their interest with these exciting Westward expansion activities. This list involves detailed, fun activities with lesson plans and pre-made digital activities focused on the time period of Westward expansion. You’ll be able to dive right into discussing topics like the Louisiana Purchase, the Gadsden Purchase, and other major events in American history using our list of 6 insightful resources.
1. Play the Oregon Trail
Any teacher who lived through the 90s will be eager to share the history lessons they learned from this game with their students. Play the Oregon Trail game, and have students chart their progress on a physical map to make this an interactive activity.
Learn More: Visit Oregon
2. Explore Native American Tribes during Westward Expansion
Using the map at the link below, try this mapping activity. Have students chart a route from the east coast to the west coast, and identify Native American tribes that lived along that route. Ask students to research those tribes and reflect on how Westward Expansion affected them.
Learn More: Iowaculture.gov
3. Watch a BrainPop Video
BrainPop has a great video detailing Westward expansion, as well as additional resources like a quiz and worksheets to help consolidate student knowledge.
Learn More: BrainPop Western Expansion
4. Map out the Louisiana Purchase and the Oregon Trail
Have your students research the Louisiana Purchase, Louis and Clark’s Route, and the Oregon Trail. This site has tons of hands-on activities, map activities, and detailed lesson plans to try out.
5. Use an Interactive Map
Students will love traveling along a route and learning more with this pre-made digital activity. It focuses on the major trails taken by pioneers and teaches students about the physical features of the country.
Learn More: Mr. Nussbaum
6. Explore Westward Expansion Maps
Immerse students in Westward expansion maps to teach them all about the time period. This site has maps featuring purchases, Native American lands, and more.
Learn More: Osher Maps