Category Archives: Lewis and Clark

Lewis and Clark Unit Study

Our family loves doing unit studies throughout the year.  Unit studies make learning an adventure.  It takes what could be a boring subject, and makes the material relatable and alive.  Your kids will love doing history, geography, math, writing, science, research, and more when you combine it into learning about a central subject with a unit study.

The Schoolhouse Review Crew was recently asked to review Once-a-Week Unit Studies from Homeschool Legacy.  This was exciting to me, because I am a member of the same local homeschool association as the author, Sharon Gibson.  We have spoken on a few occasions, I have purchased two of her unit studies in the past, and I am very pleased to see her materials come through the TOS product reviews.

Sharon is a veteran homeschool mom and has graduated two son’s.  She continues to remain a resource for local homeschool families and for the past several years has been reaching out to a larger homeschool audience with her homeschool products.  She has been a guest speaker at homeschool workshops and homeschool conferences, and you can find her booth at curriculum fairs and homeschool conventions in the south east USA and other areas.

The Once-a-Week Unit Studies are designed with a biblical focus and to be done with families with kids in 2nd grade – 12th grade.   However, my opinion is that anything can be adapted.  My children are 12, 9, 7, 5, 3, and10 months of age.   We did this unit study as a whole family.  Even my 3 and 5 year olds enjoy doing parts of these unit studies and I would encourage families with younger and older children to give them a try.

The current titles available in the Once-a-Week Unit Studies include:

        Birds Of A Feather 
        Christmas Comes To America
        Early Settlers In America
        Forest For The Trees
        Horsing Around
        Knights And Nobles
        Lewis And Clark: From Sea To Shining Sea
        Native America
        Revolutionary Ideas: The Story Of The American Revolution
        We The People: Getting To Know Your Constitution
        Weather On The Move

If you have a child who needs to acquire merit badges for a club such as Boy Scouts Of America, or American Heritage Girls ,etc, these unit studies can help. Several of the learning activities listed meet the requirements for achieving these badges.  Be sure to check the website for more information.  Sharon also encourages using these unit studies to accomplish 4-H clubs project record books.

Our Experience

Through the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we were given the option to choose a downloadable copy of a Once-a-Week unit study, and I chose to review the Lewis and Clark: From Sea To Shining Sea  unit study for the purpose of writing this review.  However, the downloadable products are currently not for sale.  If you purchase a Once-a-Week unit study, it comes already bound for you.  The Lewis and Clark: From Sea To Shining Sea Unit Study retails for $19.95.  It has 80 pages and contains lesson plans for 7 weeks of study.


Included in the unit study are suggested daily schedules, weekly schedules, lesson plans, library book lists, field trip suggestions, worksheets, and more.  Some of the subject areas covered include: Bible, Literature, Language, History, Geography, Science, Writing, History, Arts & Crafts, etc.

Table of contents in the Lewis and Clark: From Sea To Shining Sea unit study includes:
            Available Once-a-Week Unit Studies
            Boy Scout “Nature” Merit Badge Information
            American Heritage Girl “Nature & Wildlife” Badge Information
            Suggestions for How to Schedule Your Unit Study Time
            Week 1: New France
            Week 2: Thomas Jefferson, Napoleon Bonaparte, and the Louisiana Purchase
            Week 3: Fixing for a Start
            Week 4: Sacagawea Joins the Corps!
            Week 5: Trials and Tribulations
            Week 6: Ocean in View! Oh the Joy
            Week 7: Homeward Bound
            Getting the Most Out of Your Once-a-Week Unit Study

We have been using this unit study for 3 weeks.  We do the bulk of the activities one day a week with independant reading and read alouds through out the week.  We have completed the lesson plans for weeks one and two, and are working on our third week.

Gathering Supplies:

There are materials need
ed to complete the learning activities in the unit study.  Included are seperate materials lists, book lists, and movie lists that are suggested to complete each lesson.

Some items are optional, and some items or the equivalent of the listed item, is required to meet the learning objective.  Most of these items can be found at your local library, some on the internet, and some you will need to pick up at a local craft supply store.

It is a good idea to read through the unit study before hand, and gather your supplies, and plan your trips to the library and store.  I would suggest a box or basket to put items like books, printables, and another basket for craft supplies you will need. This organizational step makes my life with 6 kids much easier and helps me keep on track.

We went to a couple of different stores to find items we needed for Lesson 1, Lesson 2, and Lesson 3.  I will re-group and gather the rest of the supplies to finish the remainder of the unit study; Lesson 4, Lesson 5, Lesson 6, and Lesson 7 in the next few weeks.

Here is a list of some of the supplies I gathered:
        three ring binders to makeistory Timeline notebooks, 
        sketch pads to make exploration journals, 
        Chamois towels to make journal covers, 
        brown embroidery thread, 
        large eye needle.
        clay to create a map of the USA
        paint to paint the map
        tooth picks
        note cards to make flags
        plaster of paris to make molds of animal tracks
        cardboard to make molds of animal tracks
        measuring cup
        plastic fork
        plastic tub with lid
        colored markers, crayons, and pencils
We also picked up a few additional items, not required, to enhance our learning about this time period and these will be great to use through out the study: 
        full color laminated map
        toy knife /sword, 
        a toy tomahawks.
        arrow head
        Bow and arrow
        Fishing line and fishing hook
        Wooden Rifle
        Wooden Pistol
        Knife made from a deer antler and flattened steel
        Shells for making jewelry and use as currency
        gemstones for decorating clothing and used as currency
        Beads for making jewelry and decorations on items
        Rabbits Foot – to represent fur trapping
        Raw Hide – to represent hunting, leather tanning, and leather products
        Magnifying glass
        Raw hide wallet with old fashioned blanket stitching, to show how hide can be made 
        into a useful product
        Book about Native American medicine and some examples of the herbs and plants. 
        Beef jerky
        Dried berries and fruits, other dried foods
        Salt for preserving and seasoning food
There are thousands of great resources on the internet, including videos, books, coloring pages, printables, etc. so I encourage you to do a search and find some to use in your unit study!

I will try to post stories about some of the specific activities we are doing during the course of this study. But below are a few of the highlights from the first couple of weeks, hope it wets your appetite!

Language Arts/Bible Devotions/History/Science/Research:

Each week a list of suggested book titles is given.  Many of these books are available at your local library.  Many homeschool associations also have a resource room full of books that may have what you need.  You can use some or all of the suggested books, or make substitutions as needed.  In addition to library books, you will also need a bible on hand to complete the devotions.

When looking for books for this unit study, I found some books for sale on Amazon, Ebay, and I had several books on hand that discussed the Lewis and Clark expedition, some discussed the lives of different Native American tribes, some wildlife, etc.  I was thrilled to find these books on my book shelves:  History for Little Pilgrims, From Sea to Shining Sea, Indian Doctor, Homes Of The West, Tall Tales Cross Country with Lewis and Clark, Wagon Wheels, Beaver, The Three Little Pigs, Bearnstien Bears, Starting with Nature, Tree, I Wonder Why Trees Have Leaves, Wildflowers Blooms and Blossoms, and several more.

On Youtube, I found so many great videos to learn from.  We watched some serious historical videos and some funny historical videos too.   I will share a new story with links to several videos, but today I wanted to share two with you.  

This one is really cool made by a kid and he used clay to tell the story about Lewis and Clark:

This one is really funny and animated, but gets the message across.

 Make A History Timeline:

Making a History Timeline is a great way to visually see events in chronological order.  My son used a ruler and a pencil to draw a line acros
s the middle of several blank pages to fit into a three ring binder.  Each page represented a span of time of 100 years.  He labeled the pages from the 1400’s through the 1800’s and will continue to add more pages for other centuries as needed.  As we learn about an event or a significant person in history, we add them to the Timeline.

 Explorers Journal craft:

The kids made an Explorers Journal, similar to the Lewis and Clark journal,  to record natural science, animals, plants, and geography they learn about through out the unit study.  Be sure to read our story about the Explorers Journal, how we made them and used them.

My kids had lots of fun making and using these.  We had a few mishaps, so be sure to check out our story about these journals and see what we learned.


Science/Field Trips/Research:

Suggested activities:
    Go on a field trips to locate animals, beavers, crayfish, trees, plants.  Record 
    your observations in your exlporers journal.

Find animal tracks & make a plaster cast of them.  
We have some animal track molds to use with clay or playdough also. 
Find a beaver damn.

Geography Mapping:

Label a map with the 13 states and the territory purchased in the Louisiana purchase.
Make a topographical (3D) map.

Lapbook and Notebooking:

Once-a-Week Unit Studies also encourages families to make lapbooks if they desire to do so, but it is not a requirement for the unit study.  Included in the unit study are a few learning worksheets for different weeks.  There are also suggestions for writing assignments and research. All of these learning activities can be placed in a notebook or lapbook.  

I searched on the internet and found lots of ideas and pages for creating a Lewis and Clark lapbook, and I will share this in a future story.  I also found lots of coloring pages, worksheets, and printables to enhance our study, and we are adding them into our lapbook too. 

I think making lapbooks or notebooks about our learning adventures enhances our learning and they are great fun to look back on for review and to enjoy for years to come. Our Lewis and Clark lapbooks are a work in progress, and I will show the finished lapbooks and where to find the printables in a future story.

Well, I hope that “taste test” of our Lewis and Clark: From Sea To Shining Sea unit study we did wets your appetite, and you are hungry for more!  These unit studies are a great tool to make your learning adventures fun and memorable for the whole family.

You can order the Once a Week Unit Study products directly from the Homeschool Legacy website.  You can also find these products at booths at several homeschool conventions in NC, SC, TN, and more. 

Stop over at the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to see what others on the Crew had to say about this product.


Disclaimer:  I was sent an e-version of the unit study listed above in exchange for writing and honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own honest opinion. 

Please share.

Lewis and Clark Explorers Journal

This was a fun project we made from the Lewis and Clark: From Sea to Shining Sea unit study.  Be sure to read our review, and other stories about what we did in this unit study, including crafts, timelines, field trips, a lapbook, and more. 

Louis and Clark had a journal covered in leather, Elk hide, that they recorded details of their journey in from 1803-1806 as they explored the Louisiana Purchase, and further west all the way to the Pacific Ocean. They recorded and mapped their route, the landscape, animals, plants, and people they encountered. Their journal was a valuable tool for them, as well as for government, pioneers, tradesmen, biologists, scientists, and historians.

We have 5 school age children (and a baby) and we wanted each of the children to make an Explorer’s Journal.  We had a few blunders along the way.  Homeschooling sometimes is about trial and error. Life is always about trial and error.   Sometimes, projects can go awry and become something other than you originally intended.  Sometimes the lessons are for our children and us parents to learn patience and forgiveness.  Below I have shared our ups and downs with this craft project in hopes that it will bless you and so you can learn from our mistakes and perhaps be able to avoid them yourself.  It is kind of funny now looking back on it, but it wasn’t so funny at the time.

Making the Journal:

Directions from the unit study:

    Inexpensice blank sketch book available at craft supply stores
    Chamois available from the automotive section of your local discount store
    Brown emboidrey thread
    Sewing needle with a large eye

“Spread a piece of chamois out on a table.  Open a blank sketchbook.  Lat it cover side down on top of the chamois.  Using a pencil, trace around your book.  Now draw another line 3″ out from the left and right sides of your tracing.  Set the book aside.  Fold and pin the left and right sides of the chamois in 3″.  Blanket stitch the top and bottom edges of your book cover using a needle and brown emboidery thread.  Slip your notebook into the chamois book cover. Write in your journal…..”  Lewis and Clark: From Sea to Shining Sea, pages 13, 17, 18.

We went to the store and bought 5 Chamois 18 x 14 inches, brown emboidry thread, 5 sketch pads, and a needle with a large eye for stitching with the emboidry thread.   The Chamois is easy to use and recommended as a substitute for leather which requires some special tools. 

We jumped in to the craft project with both feet (actually both hands).  But I soon learned it required a little more custom work than I realized at first.  Depending on the size of your book, the binding, and the size of your chamois, it requires some calculating and adjusting.

When we opened the 7 1/2 inch long sketch pad, it measured 15 inches from end to end. It seemed that 18 inches would be enough, but 18 inches, minus 15 inches, minus the folds, left us with about 2 1/2 inches, or 1 1/4 inch for each side (not the three inches required for each side).  It did not leave enough chamois fabric length left over to make the pockets. We tried every which way but our sketch pads were to big and did not leave enough material left to make the pockets to hold the cover.

So we had to cut two inches off the length of the sketch pads. We measured everything with a ruler.

We cut the cardboard cover with scissors and the sketch paper inside the book with a paper cutter to get nice straight edges.   It took some time as the paper cutter could only cut through the thickness of one page at a time.  The pages are made out of thick card stock.

Now our sketch pads measured 5 1/2 inches long, and 5 inches tall.

Then we traced out the sketch pad shape onto the fabric. Then measured 3 inches on each side and drew another line. Next we cut out the fabric.

Again this was another place where things went wrong and we had to re-make our custom covers again.  We did not realize we needed to leave extra space on top and on bottom of the fabric for stitching and to accommodate the depth of the sketch book.


If you cut along the top and bottom of the book outline, you have no room to sew the cover so there is room left over to slide the cover in.  This was another place we needed to add in a calculation. So we re-made them leaving an extra 1/4 inch on top and 1/4 inch on bottom, and an extra 3 inches on the left and on the right.


The older boys got a lot of experience measuring, cutting, threading their needles, and blanket stitching. 

Yeah!  We got the pockets done and the cover is ready!!…  NOT!!!…  Now the journals would not close.  ARGH!!!

The next mistake was that we used a sketch pad with a spiral binder and this needed an additional allowance in fabric.  This meant that when the book was laid open, the top and bottom covers laid flush, but when closed the cover slipped forward and the spiral binder stuck out past the covers. This required extra length or the spiral binding of the cover prevented the journal from closing.  Who knew?  OOPPS! 

I just could not believe we had made the covers and they looked so nice, and fit perfect when the journal was open, but when we tried to close the journal, there was not enough fabric to allow it to close.  Another re-do!!!  We had to make them again adding in another 1/2 inch to accommodate the spiral binding when it was closed, except for my 9 year old.  He was determined not to remake his, so he took the stitching off of one side, and reduced the size of the pocket on that side and it added a half inch of slack to the cover.  Then he re-folded the  smaller pocket and sewed both sides of the pocket.  Now he had one big pocket and one small pocket and he was happy it was done!

After going through all of this, we decided not to make covers for the 3 and 5 year olds.  We still had some chamois fabric left, but they did not want a cover and liked the way their journals looked without it.  Why argue with a 3 and 5 year old?  At this point, I was fine with their choice.  Their journals had cute designs already on the covers, one in pink and one in red. If they change their mind in the future, we will make them one too.

We ended up with three finished covers that looked great (and several prototypes).  These books all looked the same when we were done, so for the two older boys, ages 9 and 12, I had them monogram theirs with their first initial on the front and middle initial on the back.  This was great practice for them in creating their initials with the thread.  We drew their initial in pencil backwards on the reverse side and they followed the design.  It turned out great on the front side.  The 12 year old also blanket stitched all the way around his cover instead of only on the pocket.  On the 7 year old’s cover, we wrote his first name on the front.  Now, we can get started using them.  Yeah!  Or not……

Finally, we had one last misshap I will share with you. Older brother had helped me a bunch with this project.  He helped make and re-make the other covers when there was a mistake.  He made his own cover last and finally his was done also.  He was very proud and had monogrammed his with his first and middle initials.  But because all the boys share the same first initial, one brother thought this was his book and used a marker to write the rest of his name after the monogrammed letter.  He was so sorry, and embarrassed when he flipped the book over to see his brother’s middle initial on the back.  But he had written in permanent marker and there was no fixing it.  The oldest brother was heart broken, but took it all in stride.  Now he would have to start over again.  This was a good opportunity for the boys to build relationships and to empathize with each other.  They had to ask for forgiveness, and to forgive each other.

He made a completely new journal cover: from measuring, cutting, folding, pinning, sewing, emboiderying, etc. from start to finish in about two hours.  He had the system memorized! 


He monogrammed the outside with his first and middle initials, and designed a pine tree and a star that he made on the inside pockets.  He did a great job and was a real trooper!


3 Keys to crafting cover success. 
If you plan to make a cover for your journal:

step one:
  make sure you measure your journal, and then measure again.  Be sure you add to your measurements these additions so you can buy the right size material:  add 1/2″ for the binding, 1/4″ for the top, 1/4″  for the bottom, and 3″ to the left and 3″ to the right.  Then when you blanket stitch the seams of the pockets about 1/4 inch from the edges, and open and close the covered journal, it should all fit just right.

step two:  buy the material based on the measurements above so that it is big enough to make the journal cover.

step three: if you have multiple children, be sure to add distinguishing features so the children do not confuse who’s journal is who’s.

If you don’t have a chamois, other substitutes for the leather cover could be felt, thin cardboard from a cereal box, or thin foam sheets.  You could also use heavy multilayered brown paper (often made into bags with nice handles from specialty stores).  I have seen several of these brown paper covers and they look very realistic. The brown paper is aged and made to look and act like leather by wrinkling it up and flattening it out several times and then “trimmed” by burning the edges. It really does make it look like old leather. Any of these options would make a nice cover for an explorers journal.  You could also make your own sketch pad instead of buying one.  We have made these many times with sheets of paper and thin cardboard from a cereal box.

Using our Explorers Journal:

In the 7 week unit study, Lewis and Clark: From Sea To Shining Sea, we are given a lot of fun ideas about using our journals to record plants and animals, natural science, and geography that we learn about along the way.  We have almost completed 3 weeks of the study as of the time of writing this story, and our review for The Old Schoolhouse, and I hope to post a future story when we have finished all seven weeks.

Some of the things we did in the first three weeks of our study with our Explorers Journal include
d leaning about mammals, endangered species, animals that are native to our local area, beavers,  Newfoundland dogs, and crayfish, making a map, identifying native plants.  We spent some time reading and researching.  

During week one, the kids learned about beavers, and looked up information on the internet, what they look like, their tracks, their homes, etc. 

I found some pictures online of beavers, a beaver building a lodge, a beaver lodge “blue print”, pictures of the hands and feet, and the track that matches the hand and foot.  I printed them out for each of the children to cut out and glue into their journals.




Daddy also found a beaver damn at a local creek in Brevard, NC when he was checking one of his job sites and we put this in our Explorers Journal.  We hope to take our own field trip for all the kids to see the damn soon.

During week two, we also learned about mollusks and crustaceans, and specifically crayfish, their body parts, what they eat, and their habitat.  I found some pictures online and a really cool labeled diagram of the crayfish body.


We visited the Mills River, and caught several crayfish and investigated their habitat. 


The oldest drew all of his pictures in his journal rather than cut and paste.  He loves to draw and this is a perfect learning activity for him.

In week three of our unit study, we learned about the Newfoundland dog and its special characteristics.  We added this dog to our journals.  We will be making a topographical map with clay and paint it and add a picture to our journals. We will also learn about 15 native species of plants and 12 species of trees and add them to our journals by the end of this week too.


Each week we will add more records of our learning adventures into our Explorers Journal.  Keeping an Explorers Journal is a great way to record and enrich what you are learning.  You can apply this to so many more things beyond a unit study. 

For example, if you plan a vacation, make an explorers journal to record nature, science, and geography that you see on your trip.  There are lots of great applications for a journal such as this.  For the past six months, we have taken a nature hike at the local parks every Tuesday and Friday and record our journey with photos.  We love looking through these each week.  We are going to expand our learning and make a new Explorers Journal to keep a record of our nature hikes in the parks.  I love recording how the plants change from week to week and this will be a great way to take the information we have recorded in photos and expand our learning in a hands on way.  Eventually I hope all the kids will draw many of the plants we see and I can save money on ink for pictures.  But I am willing to commit to buying the ink for this years record of hikes we have done to get us started and enjoy all the learning we have done over the past several months.

During our unit study adventure with Lewis and Clark, we also made a history timeline journal to record events we learned about.  I hope to post a future story about this also if I can find the time.  I don’t know where time goes, I need a personal historical timeline to record every 24 hours of my day so I can keep better tack of it.  By the time I feed, clothe, clean, teach, write, go here and there, with six kids the time is gone and I have a back log of stories I wish I could find more time to write about and share with you.  Lord willing, I will get it done soon…….

Be sure to read my review of the Once-a-Week Unit Study “Lewis and Clark: From Sea to Shining Sea” to learn more about the fun adventures we are doing with it. 

This post will be linked up with:
No Time For Flash Cards
Show and Share Saturday
Science Sunday
Sharing Time
Raising Homemakers
All Things Beautiful

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