Louisiana Purchase


The lesson introduces students to the Louisiana Purchase which became significant for the westward expansion of the United States.  Many of the students may be familiar with the westward expansion, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and the Gold Rush, but may not be fully aware of how the Louisiana Purchase is related to the events.  Using “before and after” maps, and displaying the growth of the U.S. during the 1800s, is highly recommended for teachers to use with students during the lesson.

Louisiana Purchase Lesson Plan Includes:

  • Full Teacher Guidelines with Creative Teaching Ideas
  • Instructional Content Pages about Louisiana Purchase
  • Hands-on homework activities
  • Answer Keys
  • Common Core State Standards
  • Many Additional Links and Resources
  • Built for Grades 4-6 but can be adapted for other grade levels.

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The lesson introduces students to the Louisiana Purchase which became significant for the westward expansion of the United States.  It will engage your students with discussions about exploration and discovery while helping them gain a deeper understanding of United States history.  Your students may be familiar with Lewis and Clark and their Native American guide Sacagawea, but likely do not understand how they connect with westward expansion and the growth of our nation.  Visual aides such as “before and after” maps and charts demonstrating the population growth of this time period are included, and can be helpful to use during the lesson.

Sample Classroom Procedure / Teacher Instruction: 

  1. Ask students: What would you do if you had a chance to purchase an acre of land for just 59 cents?  How many acres would you purchase?
  2. Allow for responses and discussion. Ask students if they know how the United States expanded to the west during the 1800s.
  3. Allow for responses and discussion. Introduce the Louisiana Purchase.
  4. Distribute Louisiana Purchase content pages. Read and review the information with the students.  Save the final question for the lesson closing.  Use the additional resources to enhance understanding.
  5. Distribute Activity page. Read and review the instructions.  Group students into 3s or 4s.  Individually the students will complete the 1st half of the activity, and each map should be similar when completed.  Students then discuss the questions with the group.   Encourage students to debate using facts to support their responses.  Allow sufficient time for discussion.
  6. Once completed, the class joins together to respond to and discuss the questions.
  7. Distribute Practice page. Check and review the students’ responses.
  8. Distribute the Homework page. The next day, check and review the students’ responses.
  9. In closing, ask students: If you could purchase the land the size of your state for just several cents an acre, how would you plan to use the land? What would you build on some of the land?
  10. Allow for responses and discussion. Encourage students to share their motivations for use of the land.

Common Core State Standards:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.6.3

Class Sessions (45 minutes): At least 2 class sessions

Additional Resources: 

Many more teaching resources in Download!

Want more social studies resources? Check out our other Social Studies Lesson Plans!

Additional information

Grade Level

4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade


Social Studies