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Mission Accomplished

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Students will be able to describe the impact of certain figures in United States history, including Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Students will be able to describe experiences of early American explorers. Students will be able to describe how goods, services, and tools are used to accomplish goals. Students will compose narratives from the perspectives of others.

Coin Type(s)

  • Nickel

Coin Program(s)

  • Westward Journey Nickel Series


  • Students will be able to describe the impact of certain figures in United States history, including Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.
  • Students will be able to describe experiences of early American explorers.
  • Students will be able to describe how goods, services, and tools are used to accomplish goals.
  • Students will compose narratives from the perspectives of others.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Language Arts
  • Social Studies


  • Second grade

Class Time

Sessions: Three
Session Length: 30-45 minutes
Total Length: 91-120 minutes


  • Whole group
  • Pairs
  • Individual work

Background Knowledge

Students should have a basic knowledge of:

  • Explorers
  • American Indians
  • Descriptive writing
  • Nickels
  • Journal writing
  • Perspective writing

Terms and Concepts

  • Obverse (front)
  • Reverse (back)
  • Louisiana Purchase
  • Tools
  • Lewis and Clark
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Supplies
  • Explorer
  • Mission
  • Corps of Discovery


  • 1 overhead projector
  • Copies of the worksheets attached to this lesson plan (see "Preparations")
  • 1 copy of the Westward Journey Nickel Series™ Resource Guide (available at
  • Blank overhead transparencies
  • Chart paper
  • Markers
  • Lewis and Clark Mission Box (see "Preparations")
  • 1 copy of a text that provides basic historical information about the Lewis and Clark Expedition (see "Preparations")
  • Mission Suitcase (see "Preparations")
  • 1 model item for inclusion in the Mission Suitcase (see "Preparations")
  • Brown butcher paper
  • Construction paper, assorted colors
  • Tape or glue
  • Images of the Pacific coast
  • Paper plates
  • Large sheets of colored construction paper for mounting student work


  • Make copies of the following:
    • "Mission Supplies" worksheet
    • "Ocean in View! Nickel Reverse" page from the Resource Guide
    • "Louisiana Territory Map" from the Resource Guide
  • Make overhead transparencies of the following:
    • "Mission Accomplished!" worksheet (1 per student)
    • "Mission Supplies" worksheet (1 per pair of students)
    • "Our Mission" worksheet (1 per student)
  • Create a Lewis and Clark Mission Box for use in Session 1. Gather 3 or 4 tools that were needed to accomplish the mission, such as a map, compass, journal, or telescope. These materials may be actual items, small replicas, or pictures. Place these items in a cardboard box. Additional items can be found on the "Lewis and Clark Supply List" in the Resource Guide.
  • Locate 1 copy of a text that provides basic historical information about the Lewis and Clark Expedition, such as:
    • Lewis and Clark: Discover the Life of an Explorer by Trish Kline
    • Lewis and Clark: Explorers of the American West by Steven Kroll
    • A Picture Book of Lewis and Clark by David Adler
    • Going Along with Lewis and Clark by Barbara Fifer
  • Create a Mission Suitcase. This can be a large cardboard box or a large, flat cutout of a suitcase made from brown butcher paper.
  • Gather images of the Pacific coast.
  • Gather paper plates (1 per student).

Worksheets and Files

Lesson plan, worksheet(s), and rubric (if any) at

Session 1—Preparing for the Mission

  1. Explain to the students that, early in our country’s history, President Thomas Jefferson sent a group of people called the Corps of Discovery to explore our western lands. Explain that the leaders of the Corps were named Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and that they were explorers. Briefly discuss other familiar explorers, such as Christopher Columbus, and the meaning of the term "explorer."
  2. Display the "Louisiana Territory Map" overhead transparency Show the students the area that Lewis and Clark explored. Note the territory’s position in relation to your school’s location. Explain that our country was not always the same shape that it is today. Point out the section of the country that existed before the Louisiana Purchase.
  3. Describe the main mission of the Lewis and Clark Expedition: to explore the uncharted western part of the United States that was acquired in the Louisiana Purchase. Display on chart paper "MISSION: To explore the uncharted western United States." Also discuss the three main goals of the Expedition: to study the plants, animals, and land; to form relationships with American Indian tribes; and to search for a water route to the Pacific Ocean. Briefly discuss why these goals would have been important. Write the goals on the chart.
  4. Tell the students that Lewis and Clark knew they would be going on a very long journey and needed to gather many supplies to prepare for it. Share one of the items from your "Lewis and Clark Mission Box" to pique the students’ curiosity and access background knowledge about exploration. Ask the students to name the item, to explain why it would have been important on the mission, and to describe how Lewis and Clark would have used the item. Provide these answers as needed. Proceed the same way through the rest of the items in the box. As the items are discussed, make a T-chart on chart paper of the supplies needed by Lewis and Clark. One column should be headed "Supplies" and the other headed "Uses." As the items are added to the chart, discuss how each item would have helped Lewis and Clark accomplish their mission.
  5. Introduce the students to the selected text about Lewis and Clark. As a group, preview the text. Ask the students to listen carefully for information about any important supplies that Lewis and Clark used during the journey. Read the text aloud to the class. Attend to unfamiliar vocabulary and concepts. During the reading, add supplies mentioned in the book to the chart. In the "Uses" column, include specific events from the text that showed how Lewis and Clark could have used each supply (for example, using the telescope to spot bison). Note that all of these tools were important supplies used during the journey. During the reading, draw the students’ attention to Lewis and Clark’s use of journals as an important tool for recording information about the new plants, animals, and land that they encountered; the friendships that they developed with the American Indians; and the route that they were traveling.
  6. After reading the text, ask the students to think of other supplies that would have been important to Lewis and Clark in preparing for their mission. Add the additional items to the chart. Discuss what kind of materials would have been available to the explorers and how those materials might have been used, as well as modern items that would not have been available.
  7. Distribute copies of the "Our Mission" worksheet to each student. Review the mission of the Lewis and Clark Expedition as a group.
  8. Ask the students to individually write a journal entry on this page from the perspective of either Meriwether Lewis or William Clark before they left on the expedition. The students should write about two or three supply items they feel would be very important and explain why, and include the anticipation that Lewis and Clark must have felt upon embarking on their mission. These entries should be given dates early in 1804.

Session 2—During the Mission

  1. Review the material covered in the first session. Revisit the chart of important supplies for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Ask the students to share the supply items they chose to write about.
  2. Display the large box or butcher paper cutout designated as the "Mission Suitcase." Tell the students they will need to pack the suitcase with the supplies most important to the Lewis and Clark mission. Tell the students that pairs of students will each choose one of the supplies listed on the chart to add to the suitcase.
  3. Display the "Mission Supplies" overhead transparency. Explain that each pair of students will complete three tasks relating to their item. The students will create the item out of construction paper, write a description of the item and how it was used, and write a journal entry as if written by Lewis or Clark describing the item’s use during the expedition. In the journal entry, the students should write about an event described in the text during which Lewis and Clark could have used the student’s selected item. Explain to the students that they should describe feelings of frustration and disappointment that the explorers might have felt during the mission. The writing will be done on the "Mission Supplies" worksheet.
  4. Share a model item with a written description and journal entry. Add this item to the suitcase.
  5. Assign partners and allow each pair to choose an item from the chart. Distribute to each pair of students the "Mission Supplies" worksheet and construction paper for creating the supply item.
  6. Allow the students time to complete their projects.
  7. As a class, "pack" the suitcase. Each pair should present their supply item and share their writing. Then, have the students add the items and writings to the suitcase.

Session 3—Accomplishing the Mission

  1. Review the material covered in the first two sessions, including the charts and class-created "Mission Suitcase." Revisit the mission and the three goals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
  2. Display various pictures of the Pacific coast. Discuss Lewis and Clark’s lengthy journey and how they might have felt upon seeing the Pacific Ocean for the first time and completing the first half of their mission.
  3. Display the "Ocean In View Nickel Reverse" overhead transparency and introduce the students to the Westward Journey Nickel SeriesTM. Explain that this nickel reverse represents Lewis and Clark’s view of the Pacific Ocean. Discuss the quotation and explain that these words were written in William Clark’s map journal on November 7, 1805. Discuss the excitement and relief that Lewis and Clark must have felt at accomplishing the first stage of their mission. Tell them that this coin reverse was designed to celebrate their accomplishments.
  4. Have students brainstorm sights that Lewis and Clark saw on the Pacific Northwest coast, such as towering trees, totem poles, American Indians in canoes, and American Indian houses. Record responses on chart paper.
  5. Distribute one paper plate to each student. Tell the students to draw the first view of the Pacific Ocean that Lewis and Clark may have seen. Tell the students to include some of the items listed on the chart.
  6. Tell the students that they will be writing a final journal entry to go with their drawings. Distribute the "Mission Accomplished!" worksheet to each student. Tell the students to write a journal entry from the perspective of one of the explorers, including the words "Ocean in view! O! The joy!" as William Clark did in his journal entry. They should date their journal entries November 7, 1805. Students should also describe how the supplies they brought helped them accomplish their mission, and express the excitement and relief that Lewis and Clark must have felt. Students should also include references to supplies that Lewis and Clark may have wished they had with them.
  7. For each student, mount the ocean drawing and journal entry on a large piece of colored construction paper.
  8. Invite the students to share their class suitcase, drawings, and journals with other students. Display their work in the classroom.

Differentiated Learning Options

  • Allow students to work with partners to complete their individual journal entries.
  • Allow students to dictate their journal entries.


  • Read aloud other theme-related books about Lewis and Clark, the Louisiana Purchase, and the American Indians of the Pacific Northwest. Add these books to the class library and encourage students to retell or dramatize what they have learned.
  • Have students research how the land of Lewis and Clark’s first ocean sighting has changed. Students can then draw a second illustration of how the view looks now, and write a journal entry reflecting how Lewis and Clark might react to these changes.
  • Take anecdotal notes about the students’ participation in class discussions.
  • Evaluate the students’ journal entries for inclusion of key supply items and descriptions of their use.
  • Evaluate students’ journal entries for integration of historical information taught.

There are no related resources for this lesson plan.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: RL.2 Reading: Literature
Grade(s): Grade 2
Cluster: Craft and Structure

  • RL.2.4. Describe how words and phrases (e.g., regular beats, alliteration, rhymes, repeated lines) supply rhythm and meaning in a story, poem, or song.
  • RL.2.5. Describe the overall structure of a story, including describing how the beginning introduces the story and the ending concludes the action.
  • RL.2.6. Acknowledge differences in the points of view of characters, including by speaking in a different voice for each character when reading dialogue aloud.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: RL.2 Reading: Literature
Grade(s): Grade 2
Cluster: Key Ideas and Details

  • RL.2.1. Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.
  • RL.2.2. Recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.
  • RL.2.3. Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: RL.2 Reading: Literature
Grade(s): Grade 2
Cluster: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

  • RL.2.7. Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.
  • RL.2.8. not applicable to literature.
  • RL.2.9. Compare and contrast two or more versions of the same story (e.g., Cinderella stories) by different authors or from different cultures.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: L.2 Language
Grade(s): Grade 2
Cluster: Conventions of Standard English

  • L.2.1. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
    • Use collective nouns (e.g., group).
    • Form and use frequently occurring irregular plural nouns (e.g., feet, children, teeth, mice, fish).
    • Use reflexive pronouns (e.g., myself, ourselves)
    • Form and use the past tense of frequently occurring irregular verbs (e.g., sat, hid, told).
    • Use adjectives and adverbs, and choose between them depending on what is to be modified.
    • Produce, expand, and rearrange complete simple and compound sentences (e.g., The boy watched the movie; The little boy watched the movie; The action movie was watched by the little boy).
  • L.2.2. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
    • Capitalize holidays, product names, and geographic names.
    • Use commas in greetings and closings of letters.
    • Use an apostrophe to form contractions and frequently occurring possessives.
    • Generalize learned spelling patterns when writing words (e.g., cage --> badge; boy --> boil).
    • Consult reference materials, including beginning dictionaries, as needed to check and correct spellings.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: W.2 Writing
Grade(s): Grade 2
Cluster: Production and Distribution of Writing

  • W.2.4. begins in grade 3.
  • W.2.5. With guidance and support from adults and peers, focus on a topic and strengthen writing as needed by revising and editing.
  • W.2.6. With guidance and support from adults, use a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers.

This lesson plan is not associated with any National Standards.