This Land is Your Land, But Now It’s My Land

This lesson is made for middle school or high school history students. This lesson can be included in discussions of Westward Expansion.

In this lesson, students will look at a map and explore how the United States pushed west over the course of about fifty years.

Question to Ask Students Before the Lesson:

What were some reasons that the United States expanded west?

This discussion can include the concept of Manifest Destiny, the California Gold Rush, the railroads, etc. This discussion is important because it engages students in questioning the reasons for westward expansion.

This also is an opportunity to discuss the effects the push west had on native populations. After all, the land was not uninhabited when America pushed west. This allows students to engage in critical reflection of certain actions taken by America while also acknowledging a history that is often ignored.

The Map

The map below has different areas that the United States gained as the nation expanded west.

Students can click through the different layers of the map to see the land America gained along with a small explanation on how the land was acquired. This activity can be done individually or as a class with discussion happening on each layer of the map. As a possible group activity, the teacher could have students examine the different lands gained and have students research and add more information to the map as class collaboration.

To see the different layers, click on the icon in the top left corner below:

Here is the link to the map: https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/edit?mid=11iH7VUlZuRAkUQFY2UJBEAH53O6OtajL&usp=sharing

Image Citation

Featured Photo by Joey Csunyo on Unsplash

3 Replies to “This Land is Your Land, But Now It’s My Land”

  1. Great to see that you gave both MyMaps layers and drawing tools. Nicely done!

    The result is an interactive way for students to explore land acquisition during the era of westward expansion. They have control of toggling layers on and off.

    A powerful introduction to loss of Native American lands and economies. Lots of opportunities for students to dig deeper into each section of land and how it reflected expansion in different eras of American history

  2. Hi Sophia, I absolutely love that you used different layers to represent years on the map. I think it makes it so easy to visualize how the US expanded and took over more territory over time. I also really like that you are highlighting the idea of “critical reflection” rather than glorification of this expansion. It provides a great insight into the darker aspects of our history.

  3. Hi Sophia! I love this idea for students to learn about the origins of the land we live in. I think It is so important to teach students about where this land came from and how to recognize that this was not always our land to take! Great use of visuals on the map!

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