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Lewis and Clark and Me Unit Study

Lewis and Clark and Me

  Author:  Laurie Myers
Illustrator:  Michael Dooling
ISBN: 0805063684
Summary: Meriwether Lewis's dog Seaman serves as narrator for a fictionalized account of Lewis and William Clark's 1803-1806 journey from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean in Lewis and Clark and Me: A Dog's Tale by Laurie Myers, illus. by Michael Dooling. Excerpts from Lewis's journals close each chapter, supplying the historical basis for the dog's adventures.

Unit prepared by Holly Dong


This can be used as a two-week unit.  The first day can be spent on introductory lessons; the remaining four days of the first week can be used for chapters 1-4 (one chapter per day read by the parent or student).   The next week can be followed with chapters 5-9. 


Introductory Lessons

First read the "Introduction to the Book" then use these lessons:


Who Wanted Control of the West and Why / The Louisiana Purchase
Ever since Christopher Columbus claimed land in North America in the name of the King and Queen of Spain, the Spanish, British, the French fought over the rights to the land.  Wars were fought and various parts of the land were given back and forth as part of the peace treaties that ended the wars.

Then in 1776, the British colonies in America declared their independence from Britain.   When the American Revolution was over, the United States of America was a fourth nation interested in the lands around them.

Each of the nations knew that whoever controlled the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico would be able to control trading.   (Remember back then, there were no cars or trucks, trains or railroads to carry goods.  Rivers were the main source of transportation and trading was a way of life.)   Also, owning the vast amount of land west of the Mississippi would greatly increase any of the nation's empire.

At the end of the American Revolution, the United States was given, as part of their deal with Britain, all the land east of the Mississippi except modern day Florida and a bit of land along the Gulf of Mexico.   The United States did not have rights to the Gulf of Mexico or the Mississippi River.  All the land beyond the Mississippi River was just called "the West."  

In 1800, Spain had made a secret bargain with France, returning to France the middle portion of North America, a land called Louisiana (not the current state, but the whole middle section of America was called Louisiana).   Shortly after the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte regained the Louisiana Territory, men in French islands in the Gulf of Mexico revolted and eventually would defeat the French army.

It took awhile before the United States President Thomas Jefferson learned of the secret treaty. (Remember, there was no Internet or telephones!)   He considered France to be a huge threat to the newly formed United States and he was greatly concerned about France owning so much land.  He also knew how important it was to control New Orleans, the main sea port on the Gulf.   So President Jefferson sent Robert Livingston to France to try to purchase New Orleans, authorizing him to spend up to $2 milLion for the port city.  Napoleon refused, so  President Thomas Jefferson sent James Monroe (he would later become a US president) to help secure the deal, authorizing him to spend up to $10 milLion for the port city!  It was during this time that Napoleon's army was defeated in the islands of the Gulf of Mexico, losing 40,000 men.  He had also lost a valuable way to defend the Louisiana Territory.  Also at this time, trouble was brewing in Europe, and Napoleon felt France would soon be at war with Britain.   Napoleon hoped to expand his empire in Europe as well, so he decided to focus his attention to increasing his empire closer to home and to do that, he needed money.  

Just days before James Monroe was to arrive in France, Napoleon offered to sell the
United States not only New Orleans, but all of the Louisiana Territory!   Surprised, but happy, during the next couple of weeks, Livingston and Monroe negotiated the price and was able to purchase the entire Louisiana Territory (almost 500 milLion acres of land!) for only $15 milLion!   That sounds like a lot of money (and it is!) but this one purchase doubled the size of America and remember, President Jefferson had authorized up to $10 for just one city!!  The United States paid about 3 CENTS per acre of land!

Map Activities:  

Map 1:  1803, before the Louisiana Purchase

Color and label the following 4 areas:

(If your child ask who owned Oregon, Washington, and Idaho--which is not colored--you can say that Britain, Russia, and Spain all claimed it!)

Map 2:  1803, after the Louisiana Purchase

Color and label the
area that was now owned by the United States, after the purchase of the Louisiana Territory.  Be sure to use a different color to represent the Louisiana Purchase.  

Lewis and Clark--
President Jefferson was an amateur scientist, and he was very interested in the newly purchased land and felt other scientists would be too.  In 1801, President Jefferson asked Congress for funding for an expedition.  He appointed his personal secretary, Meriwether Lewis to head the expedition, which was called the "Corps of Discovery."  Lewis asked his childhood friend, William Clark, to join him in leading it. 

The Corps' primary goal would be to locate the "Northwest Passage."  It was believed that there was a waterway that connected the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean.  The nation that claimed this water route for trading would likely control all of the land.  They would also be able to trade more easily with China and the East Indies.

Another goal of the Corps of Discovery was to establish diplomatic relations with the Native Americans living in the land, to inform them of who owned the land and to befriend and trade with them.

In addition to searching for the Northwest Passage and to establish good relations with the Native Americans, President Jefferson also asked the Corps to keep track of the weather, create maps of the areas and rivers they explored, make lists of Native American words learned, collect specimens and record information about the flora and fauna, make notes about the type of soil, etc. 

On May 14, 1804, the Corps of Discovery, with nearly 50 people, set up the Missouri River on a journey to map and explore the American West. Half of the men made the entire trip to the Pacific and back and the other half returned at various points, bringing back samples to the president. The Corps was also joined by a tracker and his wife, Sacajawea, who has become famous for the important role she played in the journey, guiding and translating for the Corps. Only one man, Sergeant Charles Floyd died during the journey. The journey took nearly three years and covered 8,000 miles.

The Corps kept several journals of the expedition.  They successfully documented much of the American West which had not been systematically mapped before.  Their observations, maps, and documentation were invaluable.  

The Lewis & Clark Expedition
(a Kaleidoscope Kids book) by Carol A. Johmann
Going Along With Lewis & Clark by Barbara Fifer
Meeting Natives with Lewis and Clark
by Barbara Fife
Lewis and Clark for Kids: Their Journey of Discovery with 21 Activities (For Kids series) by Janis Herbert
Lewis and Clark on the Trail of Discovery: An Interactive History with Removable Artifacts (Lewis & Clark Expedition) by Rod Gragg
Animals on the Trail with Lewis and Clark by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent
Plants on the Trail with Lewis and Clark by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent
How We Crossed the West: The Adventures of L
ewis & Clark  by Rosalyn Schanzer
Sacagawea (COFA)  by Flora Warren Seymour



Chapter 1

Language Arts


Flashback –

 In the beginning, Seaman is dreaming about his past with Lewis, and then the story begins from where he meets him. Telling a story this way is called using a flashback. Try to think of other examples of stories told this way with your child (it may be easier for them to think of examples in movies and TV, where this is a classic device). However, some picture books that use this device are: One Small Blue Beard by Bird Baylor, Missing Mitten Mystery by Stephen Kellogg,  Why the Chicken Crossed the Road  by David Macaulay,  What's Under My Bed? By James Stevenson, and The Wreck of the Zephyr  by Chris Van Allsburg.

Writing- Journal --
It would be good to have your child keep a journal as you were going through the book, perhaps one entry per chapter, explaining that Lewis and Clark were keeping journals and many of the men on their trip did as well. It could be a drawing, a summary, or both.


Vocabulary –

Keener – having or showing mental sharpness

Insignificant – not important

Wharves – a structure built on the shore at which ships can load and unload

Docility – easily taught, led, or managed

Qualifications – a special skill, knowledge, or ability that fits a person for a particular work or position


Personification/Point of View –

This story is told from the point of view of Seaman, a dog. In order to do this, he has been given some of the characteristics of a person. This is a called personification. List with your child some of the human characteristics that Seaman has been given. Also, compare and contrast Seaman’s perspective from the actual reports that are from Lewis’ journal excerpts at the end of each chapter.




Newfoundland Dogs –

Newfoundland dogs are large dogs, adults being 100-150 lbs. As mentioned in the book, their feet are webbed and their coat is double coated (and oily), making it waterproofed. Therefore, Newfoundlands are natural swimmers and used to be used to haul nets for fishermen. They have a gentle nature, and are even nicknamed “gentle giants.” In fact, “Nana” from Peter Pan was a Newfoundland. Have your child compare the characteristics that make Newfoundlands good swimmers with those that make ducks good swimmers.


Social Studies

Geography –
Find the Mississippi and the Missouri rivers on the map.




Distance –

Use the scale on the map to find the distance of both of the rivers. Compare the distances.




Loyalty –

Discuss Seaman’s loyalty to his owner, even when he wanted to do what Lewis asked him to do.

Chapter 2


Language Arts


Vocabulary –

Scan – to make a wide sweeping search of

Poling – to push or move with a pole

Channels – the bed of a stream or the deeper part of a river

Current – the part of a fluid body moving continuously in a certain direction

Admiration – a feeling of great and delighted approval


Social Studies


Geography –

Find the Ohio River on the map.




Senses –

Sit with your child outside (early in the morning or late afternoon is a good time for this is when animals tend to be more active). Encourage them to use all their senses in observing their surroundings as Seaman did: “I could hear it in their voices. … There were animals I had not seen before. Smells I had not smelled. My skin tingled with excitement.  … We ate well.”


Squirrels –

Refer to Squirrel MBTU from HSS

Squirrels do migrate, and there have been reports of squirrels crossing the Mississippi River in mass numbers. The reasons for squirrel migrations do not seem to be well understood.

Read this poem:

The Squirrel Migration by William Howitt

When in my youth I traveled
Throughout each north country,
Many a strange thing did I hear,
And many a strange thing to see.

But nothing was there pleased me more
Than when, in autumn brown,
I came, in the depths of the pathless woods,
To the grey squirrels' town.

There were hundreds that in the hollow boles
Of the old, old trees did dwell,
And laid up store, hard by their door,
Of the sweet mast as it fell.

But soon the hungry wild swine came,
And with thievish snouts dug up
Their buried treasure, and left them not
So much as an acorn cup.

Then did they chatter in angry mood,
And one and all decree,
Into the forests of rich stone-pine
Over hill and dale to flee.

Over hill and dale, over hill and dale,
For many a league they went,
Like a troop of undaunted travelers
Governed by one consent.

But the hawk and the eagle, and peering owl,
Did dreadfully pursue;
And the further the grey squirrels went,
The more their perils grew;
When lo! to cut off their pilgrimage,
A broad stream lay in view.

But then did each wondrous creature show
His cunning and bravery;
With a piece of the pine-bark in his mouth,
Unto the stream came he;

And boldly his little bark he launched,
Without the least delay;
His busy tail was his upright sail,
And he merrily steered away.

Never was there a lovelier sight
Than that grey squirrels' fleet;
And with anxious eyes I watched to see
What fortune it would meet.

Soon had they reached the rough mild-stream,
And ever and anon
I grieved to behold some bark wrecked,
And its little steersman gone.

But the main fleet stoutly held across;
I saw them leap to shore;
They entered the woods with a cry of joy,
For their perilous march was o'er.

Chapter 3


Language Arts


Vocabulary –

Observations - an act of gathering information

Translated – to change from one language or set of symbols into another

Scrawny – poorly nourished; skinny

Unthinkable – not to be thought of or considered as possible


Social Studies


Communication - 

The Indians that Seaman and Lewis met had difficulty communicating so, in addition to basic language (at least one of the Indians spoke English) “Lewis used hand motions to help”. Play charades with your child using only hand motions in an effort to see how easy or difficult this might have been.




Bartering -

The Indians wanted to trade, or barter, for Seaman (three beaver skins). Neither Lewis nor Seaman thought this was a fair trade. The Indians were already accustomed to trading with white people, Lewis and Clark were the first official exploring expedition, but not the first white people to travel that far west into what would become the United States. Take turns bartering, either using toys, or by bartering for household goods and pieces of fake fur for pelts. Talk with your child about the fact that guns would have been desired, but that Lewis and Clark did not trade in guns. As an exploring expedition, they only had enough guns for themselves, and did not bring guns for trade. They mostly traded small flags and clothing.  This can be done with monetary value assigned or not, depending on the level of your child.

Chapter 4

Language Arts


Vocabulary –

Survey – to look over and examine closely

Ridiculous – completely unreasonable or untrue

Nearsighted – able to see near things more clearly than distant ones

Reeked – to have a strong or unpleasant smell

Embarked – to begin some task or project


Point of View –

In this chapter, Seaman briefly sees things from the buffalo calf’s point of view (“His eyes were soft, tinted with fear.”). Have your child re-write this incident from the calf’s point of view, where is his mother? How did he feel about Lewis? About Seaman? About being left behind? Is he reunited with his mother?




Jealousy –

There is a saying: “Blinded by jealousy.” At one point in the story, when Seaman realizes that the calf is afraid he says, “How could I have missed that?” Share another example from life with your child when jealousy has made you overlook something obvious and ask them if that has ever happened to them.


Compassion –

Both Lewis, and ultimately, Seaman show compassion for the calf. “The Parable to the Good Samaritan” in The Bible tells us that we must have compassion for everyone, even strangers. Discuss with you child ways in which you can show your compassion for others.

Chapter 5

Language Arts

Vocabulary –

Scurrying – to move briskly

Delicacy – something pleasing to eat because it is rare or a luxury

Twinge – to affect with or feel a sudden sharp pain

Native - born in a particular place or country

Fatal – causing death or ruin




Beavers –

Beavers are North America’s largest rodent, weighing over 60 pounds and growing as long as four feet.  Like all rodents, their sharp front upper and lower teeth grow throughout their whole life. They have webbed hind feet and front feet with short, heavy claws. Their flat, heavy, hairless tail is used for balance when they are gnawing on tree branches, as well as for slapping the water to warn of danger. See the Kingfisher Illustrated Animal Encyclopedia for more information.

Beaver Form


Health/First Aid –

Seaman has had an artery cut by a beaver. Since blood is pumped through an artery by the heart, it is harder to stop the bleeding. Review first aid procedures with your child about stopping bleeding (applying pressure 20 min. without looking, and where the main arteries in the body are located for first aid purposes). Get The Kid’s Guide to First Aid: All About Bruises, Burns, Stings, Sprains and other Ouches by Karen Buhler Gale for reference.


Social Studies


Sacagawea -

Sacagawea is mentioned in this chapter. A Shoshone Indian, she helped to interpret and guide Lewis and Clark on their trip. Have your child read A Picture Book of Sacagawea by David A. Adler. Parents should be aware that the bare facts of her life are violent. She was kidnapped at 10 by an enemy tribe, sold to a trader, who she later married as a second wife, and had her first child as a teenager. She had two children and died by the age of 25. This may be something you may wish to skip, and definitely something that will need to be put in historical context.


Chapter 6


Language Arts


Vocabulary –

Stampede – a wild rush or flight of frightened animals

Sentinel – a lookout; a person employed to watch for something to happen

Rampaging – to rush wildly about




Buffalo –

What are called buffalo in the book should actually be researched under the American Bison, although many commonly call this species the buffalo. Bison have a large head (compared to it’s body) and shoulder hump; buffalo do not. Look up information on this species in the Kingfisher Illustrated Animal Encyclopedia. Complete a Venn diagram comparing Bison and Buffalo.




Music –

Listen to the cd “Fiddle Tunes of the Lewis and Clark Era” by The New Columbia Fiddlers. Discuss how music has changed. Do you like this music?  Do you think it’s strange that Lewis and Clark brought instruments with them?


Chapter 7

Language Arts



Suspicious – likely to suspect or distrust

Beckoned – to call or signal to a person usually by a wave or nod

Tension – a state of mental unrest that is often accompanied by physical signs (as perspiring) of emotion : a state of unfriendliness between individuals or groups
Pursuit – to follow something in order to catch up with and seize


Thought Question/Response –

William Clark eventually became the Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Western Indians. If Seaman’s point of view of Lewis and Clark’s opinion about the Clatsop tribe is correct, do you think it may have affected his job later on? Do you think that, from the Clatsop tribe’s point of view, they may have had a reason for behaving the way they did? Have your child pick the point of view of either William Clark or a Clatsop tribe member and write a journal entry.


Social Studies


Native Americans –
During the expedition, Lewis and Clark and the other members of the Corps of Discovery had interaction with over 50 Native American tribes.  Some of the tribes had never before seen a white man (or a black man like York).  Some knew the white man well and wanted nothing to do with him.  Still others were friendly and welcomed trade with the Corps.

President Jefferson had instructed Lewis and Clark to make friends and develop trade relations with the Native Americans they would
encounter. He also wanted them to collect scientific and military information about them.   To help develop good relations with the Native Americans, Lewis and Clark brought along a number of presents to give to the tribes.  The PBS website for their documentary on Lewis and Clark has a partial list of those gifts:

    * 12 dozen pocket mirrors
    * 4,600 sewing needles
    * 144 small scissors
    * 10 pounds of sewing thread
    * silk ribbons
    * ivory combs
    * handkerchiefs
    * yards of bright-colored cloth
    * 130 rolls of tobacco
    * tomahawks that doubled as pipes
    * 288 knives
    * 8 brass kettles
    * vermiLion face paint
    * 33 pounds of tiny beads of assorted colors

Over time, Lewis and Clark worked out a technique for meeting a tribe for the first time.  They called this first meeting "a council."   They would tell the leaders that their land now belonged to the United States and they would tell them about the "Great Father" (President Thomas Jefferson) who ruled the land and who wanted to be friends.   They would give the leaders a peace medal that showed Jefferson on one side and a picture of two hands clasping on the other.  They would then give the leaders presents.    

To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark expedition, in 2004, the United States government began issuing the "Westward Journey" series of nickels.  The "Peace Medal Nickel" was the first in the series and features President Jefferson on one side and the two clasping hands on the other. (The US Mint has some lesson plans designed to go with the Westward Journey series.)

The Native Americans met on the Corps of Discovery that are mentioned in the book:

(There is a fascinating legend surrounding this tribe!!! When Lewis and Clark visited this tribe, there were many within this tribe that had light skin, European facial features, and light colored eyes and hair.  Clark noted this in his journal.  There is a legend that they are descended from Prince Madoc of Wales, who possibly settled in American in 1170. Parents, if you search the Internet, you will find some places that discount the legend, but if you keep looking you will find that there seems to be quite a bit of evidence that suggests Madac may have indeed been the earliest discoverer of America.  A study of the Mandan Indians could also lead to an artist study of George Catlin, who lived among them and prolifically painted them.)



Nez Perce

Other tribes not specifically mentioned in the book, but listed on the PBS site as having had significant interaction with Lewis & Clark: Arikara, Assiniboine, Blackfoot, Chinook, Hidatsa, Missouri, Oto, Teton Sioux (also called Lakota), Tillamook, Walla Walla, Wishram, and Yankton Sioux.  (The PBS site aforementioned has a clickable map to learn more about various tribes.)

Other tribes encountered include:  Osage, Cheyenne, Crow, Yakima (now called Yakama), Flathead (also called Salish), Pawnee, Umatilla, Kickapoo, Iowa, Cree, Kansa (also called Kaw), Fox, Chehalis, Wanapam, Arapaho, Sauk (also called Sac), Kiowa, Atsina (also known as the Gros Ventre), Ponca.

Please refer to wikipedia for more information on the various tribes.

The Lewis and Clark Heritage Trail Foundation has a more complete list of the tribes encountered, which is hyperlinked to the tribe's website or other website to learn more.

Research: Have your student use the Encyclopedia of American Indians, Internet, or other favorite resource to gather more information about the various tribes mentioned in this chapter and/or the book. Make a map showing their territories and write a brief description of each tribe that includes tidbits on their culture, housing, family life, and clothing. (If your student does not wish to make a map, you could print this map from Native American Rhymes and have him circle the various tribes.)

List making:   Have your student classify some of the Native American tribes as to their geographic locations:  Plains, Plateau, or the Northwest Coast.  (List at least five tribes per region.)

Possible go along book:  Meeting Natives with Lewis and Clark by Barbara Fife


The eighth commandment says “You shall not steal.” Talk to your child about how upsetting it must have been for Lewis to nearly have his dog stolen, and how he showed this by allowing small thefts to go unanswered (turn the other cheek), but when Seaman was almost taken, he acted. Discuss how it is better to go without than to have something you have not earned.



Follow the directions at Enchanted Learning  to make an Indian Rattle.


Chapter 8

Language Arts


Vocabulary –

Accomplish – to bring to a successful finish

Deposit – to place for safekeeping; especially : to put money in a bank

Obliged – to earn the gratitude of or to compel by pressure

Contemplating – to view or consider with careful and thoughtful attention




Deer –

Deer are part of the ruminant family, meaning that they digest their food in two stages. They are widely distributed throughout the world, in all continents except Australia and Antarctica. They differ from other ruminants in that they have antlers, which fall off each year, instead of horns, which are permanent. For more information on deer, see the Kingfisher Illustrated Animal Encyclopedia.  Have your child draw a picture of a deer and write a description of deer.


Salt –

Salt is a needed mineral for all living things. Large mammals, like deer, horses, bison, and cows use salt licks. They used to find naturally occurring licks (and deer often still do), but horse and cows are often given salt licks by their owners now. If you have or know someone who has one of these animals, you can see a lick. Depending on where you live, you may wish to put out a lick. However, there are many precautions that need to be taken with this and it should not be taken into lightly. Licks used to be used to attract animals in order to kill them, as in this book, however, in most (if not all) states, this is now illegal. If you are in a suburban area, and wish to make a lick, even bees and butterflies benefit from a salt lick. Make a damp area with a hose or drip irrigation, mix in sea salt (or table salt) and you’ve made your own miniature salt lick!




Deer and Hunter game—

Have several players of all ages stand in a circle, holding hands. The first person (“it”) runs through the circle, ducking under the arms of various players, in and out of the circle, and then taps someone to be the hunter. The Hunter then chases the deer. The hunter has to follow the deer, follow its movements exactly. If the hunter catches the deer, it goes in the middle. But, if the hunter can’t follow the deer precisely, the hunter goes in the middle. This continues until there are too many people in the middle to be circled by the people on the outside. Idea is from “Family Fun”.




Cooperation -

The Indians and the explorers cooperated in catching the deer, without even speaking to one another. There is a saying, “You can’t clap with only one hand.” Talk over examples of cooperation with your child and how they have successfully cooperated in the week.

Chapter 9

Language Arts

Vocabulary –

Retrieve – to get and bring back

Suited – to meet the needs or desires of

Territory – a geographic area belonging to or under the control of a government

Stimulation – to be made more active

Triumphal – of, relating to, or honoring a triumph

Uproar – uprising, rebelLion, revolt




Antelope –

Another species of ruminant, antelopes have horns, not antlers. Antelopes are also found on many continents and they have, like many ruminants, split hooves into two toes. One special talent that antelopes have is “pronking.” Pronking is the ability to jump straight into the air. Usually an antelope will do this to surprise a predator, giving the antelope time to escape. For more information on antelopes, see the Kingfisher Illustrated Animal Encyclopedia.

An experiment to mimic pronking (to be done by the parent) taken from the San Diego Zoo: Put a bit of water in a film canister (the old 35 mm kind). Drop in an alka seltzer tablet, put on the lid. Stand back. The film canister should rocket up into the air. This can also be done with baking soda and vinegar or baking powder and water. It should definitely be done by an adult.




Faithfulness –

The title of last chapter is “My Favorite Words,” and Seaman’s favorite words are repeated multiple times throughout the book, “Good job, Seaman.” Seaman discusses at length how well suited he and Lewis were for each other in this chapter. In the parable of the three servants, the master says to the two faithful servants, “Well done, you good and faithful servant.” Discuss how faithfulness, both in the commission of a friendship and in the service of God, means making the best use of the abilities given you, as the two servants who were commended by their master in the parable. Talk about how the money is really just a metaphor for using your talents well in the service of God instead of hiding them away, as the last servant did.