Westward Expansion: December History Resources

Westward Expansion (1829-59)


The conclusion of the War of 1812 opened lands west of the Appalachians to settlement.  Lewis and Clarks expedition had opened the eyes of the young nation to the vastness of the continent and whet the appetite for adventure and growth.  A darker period of history also resurfaces here in Indian wars, resettlement, and conquest of native peoples. Expansionist tendencies couple with emerging technologies, steam trains and canal building, and promote the movement of goods and people on a scale not before seen in history.  Growth and expansion sews the seeds of contention and conflict with neighbors, perhaps more importantly lead up to the most destructive conflict in the nation’s history.

Do you remember going to a computer lab in school and playing Oregon Trail? I might be telling my age there but it is one of the first computer programs that I ever remember playing (along with Reader Rabbit but that is a story for another day).  You can still access that computer program in all of its simplistic glory on the internet for free. That is one of the many resources that we will use this month as we work our way through Westward Expansion, the Alamo, and the California Gold Rush.

We hope to visit Duke Homestead and our North Carolina State Capitol building during this month. They give great representations as to what was going on during this time in history and will be decorated for Christmas which will be an added bonus. Since a trip to California isn’t really an option right now we will also do a couple of virtual tours using the National Park Service to get an idea about the area involved in the Gold Rush and Fort Laramie.

We always do lots of baking around the holidays and this year we will include some of the desserts I found from this time period (like Molasses Cake) into our regular baking. We will also probably have some corn bread and other favorites using older recipes.

Years ago I had the opportunity to visit the Alamo. I remember being very shocked by its location. I had envisioned it in the middle of open land as it would have been all those years ago, but now it is in the middle of a city.  Since we won’t be able to travel to Texas we will also be doing a virtual tour of the Alamo during our study. Once we have studied the Alamo I plan to watch, Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier.  Then we can complete a Venn diagram about the real story of Davy Crockett and the Alamo versus the movie.

We will be enjoying a variety of books and continuing to read from America’s Story by Master Books. I know that Elizabeth is going to read A Nest for Celeste (John James Audubon) which is an adorable book about the travels of John James Audubon written from the perspective of a mouse.  She also plans to work on finishing up her Native American badge for American Heritage Girls as her project for this month. Matthew is still deciding on his but considering a Lego model of the Alamo.


We take several weeks off for Christmas, New Year’s and my daughter’s birthday, so this will be a slightly shorter month for us, but if we haven’t finished the movie or virtual tours the children would be happy to work on those during their time off. Let us know your plans for teaching about this period of westward expansion in the comments.


Also check our free resource library for two new Christmas freebies, Christmas Traditions and a Christmas Bucket List.

When you sign up for our free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library

This post may contain affiliate or referral links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

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