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Frontier: Writing Activities

Writing Activities

Have students assume the role of a member of the Corps of Discovery (Lewis, Clark, York, Cruzatte, Sakakawea, etc.) and have them write a journal entry from that person’s point of view.

Have students read the journal entries of Lewis and Clark found at the following site and find the incorrect spellings, punctuation, capitalization, and sentence structure for several of the entries. In addition, have them write what Lewis or Clark would have written had they used correct grammar.

Lewis & Clark's Historic Trail: Journals

Lewis and Clark were co-captains of the expedition to explore the Louisiana Territory. Yet, it was recorded that not one time did they ever argue or disagree on an important decision. Have students write what they could learn from Lewis and Clark in how to work together with their classmates and/or siblings.

Have students imagine they are explorers writing letters to their families in Europe. Have them describe their impressions of the first bison herd they saw. In addition, have them provide illustrations.

Have students dip writing paper into tea and let it dry to replicate old-looking writing paper. Next, have them pretend they are explorers or fur trappers. Have students each write a diary page describing a day in the life of an explorer or fur trapper. Encourage them to be descriptive so the reader feels he/she is actually with them on their trip.

Have students visualize and describe their thoughts and feelings when they were leaving Fort Abraham Lincoln under the leadership of Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer to meet the Lakota warriors. In addition, have them describe their thoughts and feelings after they had encountered the enemy.

Women, during the frontier era, did not want to have sun tans, as this was considered shameful. If this were to be the fashion today, have the students describe how each one would feel about it. What would they do? Would they follow what everyone else was doing, or would they do their own thing? Have them explain their answers. This activity could be placed in a T-Chart or Venn Diagram.

The women at military forts followed strict social rules. For example, the officers’ wives thought they were better than the other women, and the wives of enlisted men thought they were better than the laundresses. Have the students write how they would have felt as an officer’s wife, an enlisted man’s wife, or a laundress. Have them describe their feelings.

Have students imagine it is the year 2204; they have traveled back 400 years to meet Lewis and Clark at Ft. Mandan. But there is a problem, as Lewis and Clark don’t believe them! Have the students write how they would persuade Lewis and Clark that they are really from the future. What will they tell them to persuade them? Write what they see, and describe what they think it is like living 400 years in the past.