In fourth grade, students use their understanding of social studies concepts and skills to explore
Washington State in the past and present. Students learn about the state’s unique geography and key
eras in early Washington State history, particularly the treaty-making period. One era which our ECS students recently studied was that of the Lewis and Clark Expeditions.
The Lewis and Clark expedition (at the time known as the Corps of Discovery Expedition), was the first American exploration of what is now the western portion of the United States. The planning began in early 1803, with Lewis and Clark departing from St. Louis, Missouri in 1804 and making their way to the Pacific coast by late 1805.
To increase student understanding about some of the social aspects of this expedition, they are challenged to put themselves in the shoes of the major characters and create projects demonstrating this perspective-taking. For example, one goal may be to write a persuasive letter to President Thomas Jefferson, listing the most important items the expedition team will need to purchase to bring with them and asking for the funds to buy these.
Another goal, in the area of science/botany, might be to research the list of 178 new plants and 122 new animals that the expedition team classified and make a project about one (with written report and sketches).
Geography, topography, historical dates, and key achievements are all topics that are covered in the study, which align with state-wide social studies learning standards of 4th grade. Our students are highly engaged in their learning, and enjoy the team process in which they participate to demonstrate their learning to their teacher and their classmates.