Westward Expansion for Kids

There is so much more to the wild west than just cowboys, Indians, covered wagons, and dust bowls. Our free westward expansion history unit has everything you need to make history come alive for your elementary age kids!

Westward Expansion - FUN hands on history unit for kids with lesson plans, educational activities, FREE worksheets and more for preschool, kindergarten, first grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade students studying gold rush, oregon, trail, wild west, railroad, louisiana purchase #westwardexpansion #historyforkids #homeschool

Westward Expansion

How many of you thought this period of history was just about cowboys & Indians?  I’m a huge history fan and I myself never wanted to dive deeper because I wasn’t a fan of cowboy movies. LOL!  Boy was I missing out!

The wild west is filled with epic adventures for everyone: from dangerous covered wagon rides to searching for gold, our first post office, railroad, and more! Come joins us we dive into this truly fascinating period of American history – Westward Expansion!


—-> Lewis, Clark, and Sacagawea

Most kids know about Columbus “discovering”  America in 1492, early settlers in Colonial America, but their history drops off after we gained our independence after the Revolutionary War in 1776.  It’s a shame because we just became a nation and there is a lot of exciting things happening as we form our new nation, and discover the rest of the country!

Westward Expansion for Kids covers 1783 to 1898 (just after Hawaii joins the USA) so make sure you see our Civil War for Kids unit to get that important piece of history that deserves a study all of it’s own.

This week kids will make a salt dough map of the us noting elevation and rivers which were so important to settlers moving west, learn about the Louisiana Purchase (steal of deal that doubled the size of the USA), learn about animal trails (who the settlers encountered), and made our own moccasins to remind us of Sacajawea who helped Luis and Clark on their expedition to the Pacific Ocean.

Plus we completed some westward expansion worksheets, matched animal trails to the North American animals, and did some mapping exercises.


—-> The Oregon Trail

This week students learned about the dangerous Oregon Trail and painted it on our dried salt dough map. We made our own model of a covered wagon and learned how hard life was for settlers traveling west. Kids loved learning about life for these wild west Americans by making their own crackers and square dancing. Finally we used a wild west themed activity to practice counting and skip counting before completing our worksheets for the week.


—-> The Pony Express, Gold Rush, and the Transcontinental Railroad

This was one of our favorite weeks as my kids were fascinated by the idea of striking it rich when the gold rush hit in 1849 and the subsequent ghost towns you can still find all along the deserted towns in western America.
HINT: If you life nearby the area make sure to visit one of the many ghost towns – it is not an experience you will soon forget.

Take a virtual field trip to learn about the pony express, pan for gold, make a railroad project, and finish your westward expansion worksheets to complete the unit.

Wild West Fun for Younger Learners