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Harriman Expedition Retraced



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Lesson Plan
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Instructional Guide

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A Neighborhood Expedition


Grade level: Kindergarten

Subjects: History, science, geography, language arts

Time Needed for Completion: Five class periods

Objectives for Students

  • Observe and collect data, and learn about the scientific process.
  • Research Internet resources relating to the 1899 Harriman Expedition.
  • Review and assess map making and navigational strategies.
  • Generate and answer questions.



  • Correlates to the national standards set by the National Center for History in the schools.
  • Chronological thinking &emdash; Distinguish past, present, and future. (Standard 1)
  • Historical comprehension &emdash; Reads historical narratives imaginatively, draws upon data in historical maps, draw upon visual data. (Standard 2)


  • Correlates to the National Science Foundation Education Standards.
  • Science Inquiry &emdash; Scientific concepts, nature of science, skills necessary to become independent inquirers. (Standard A)
  • Science and Technology – Distinguish between natural and man-made objects. (Standard E)
  • Science in Personal and Social Perspectives – Resources, changes in environment. (Standard F)


  • The World in Spatial Terms – Using maps (Standard 1)

Language Arts:

  • Correlates to national standards developed by MCREL.
  • General skills and strategies of the writing process. (Standard 1)
  • Grammatical and mechanical conventions in writing.(Standard 3)
  • General skills and strategies of the reading process.(Standard 5)
  • Listening and speaking strategies for different purposes (Standard 8)


  • Each student will need paper for drawing, sketching, and writing, color pencils and crayons.
  • During the expedition the class will need zip lock bags for data collection, rubber gloves and a map of neighborhood.
  • Two disposable cameras and a book binding kit.
  • Internet access for students to review on-line souvenir album.
  • Maps of all kinds to share with the class.
  • Book binding kits, binders, scrapbooks.



  • The Harriman Alaska Expedition of 1899 yielded a wonderful historical record, including a number of one-of-a-kind souvenir albums. In these albums one finds photographs, sketches, handwritten notes, guests lists.
  • Students in any neighborhood can plan an expedition and, once back in the classroom, create their own souvenir album.

Part I: Class Discussion and Review of Harriman Souvenir Album

Conduct a general discussion about trips and vacations that students have taken or have heard about. End this with a brainstorm session on what to take on a trip and why.

Introduce the class to the Harriman Expedition and discuss the word expedition and how it differs from vacation. List some things that the Harriman group did -- scientific

collection of samples, hunting, meeting new groups of people. Read a picture book about going on a trip, then tell the class that they will be taking an expedition of their own. See the resource section below for book suggestions.

Have the class generate a list of all the items they will need to have a successful expedition. Arrange for additional adult supervision if necessary.

Part II: Planning and Mapping the Route

Review the previous days work. Introduce maps of all kinds to the children. Discuss why maps are used, why they are necessary.

Introduce the word navigation, define it, and have the children explore the concept either in discussion, or by an actual navigation practice around the classroom.

Working on newsprint or the blackboard, make a map of the neighborhood you will be "exploring." Map the route the class will take on their expedition.

Review the materials needed to make the trip with the class, using the list that was completed in Part I.

Allow students time to review pictures and books about travel. Have this PBS web site up, and have the class review the maps section in pairs.

Part III – We’re Off!

Review the previous work, and discuss the things students will be doing on the expedition – observing, recording, collecting things. Discuss conduct and the proper way to collect.

Have students create a list of the items the Harriman Expedition gathered (learned through pictures and web sites). And discuss some of the items that they may want to collect on their trip.

Send students to restroom before setting out.

Using the map of the neighborhood, set out on the expedition. Have students travel in pairs. Stop frequently to review your location, direction and plans.

Make two or three stops to allow students to record (draw) what they observe. Give ample time for this. (Make sure students have writing materials.)

Have students take turns with the disposable cameras. Allow them to take pictures of what they deem "important."

Point out significant landmarks and items of importance. Have students collect items that they feel represent their neighborhood; include Leaves, debris, plant samples, pebbles.

After arriving back to school, have the students discuss their thoughts and feelings about the expedition. Gather all the drawings, writings, and data collections, and discuss what should be done with them. Talk about what the members on the Harriman Expedition did with their findings.

Send photographs out for processing.

Part IV – Planning the Souvenir Albums

Discuss the importance of a good album. Have students select their own work to include or revise and include in their albums. Encourage them to add details, assist them in generating labels on the work.

Have the class decide how they want to organize their expedition -- should there be one album, or individual ones? Can the class do both?

Collect all revised work.

Part V – Finishing the Albums

When photographs are back, review with the whole class.

Discuss again the organization the class has decided on, and use material to “publish.” This can be as simple as a three-ring binder, or a spiral notebook. A more ambitous project could include papers bound in illustrated cardboard covers. If your school has a lamination kit, use this for the covers.

Put the album(s) together. Review with the class. Read it through together. Save the albums for an end-of-the-school-year review.

Review the web site, and have students talk about how their trip compares with the Harriman Expedition. Have students talk about what went right and what could have been Done better on their expedition.

Assessment Suggestions

  • Students can be assessed on their participation in the discussions and activties that took place during the lesson.
  • Students can be assessed on how well they work cooperatively in a group.
  • Students can be assessed on their completed souvenir albums.


  • Students can produce a display of the "artifacts" they found while on their expedition. Include photographs, and invite another class for a reception.
  • Students can add on to the neighborhood map, listing the landmarks they "discovered." They can propose names for these landmarks, just as the Harriman trip did.


  • Further reading for teachers includes Green Alaska by Nancy Lord and Looking Far North by William H. Goetzmann and Kay Sloan.
  • For children one good book is Me On the Map by Joan Sweeney, published by Dragonfly Books/Crown. A child places herself on maps of her room, her town, her state and the world.
  • A second recommendation for children is As the Crow Flies: A First Book of Maps, published by Aladdin Publishing Company.

Prepared by William Pugh, Muldoon Elementary School, Anchorage, Alaska.




For information on the Harriman Retraced Expedition e-mail: harriman2001@science.smith.edu

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