Lesson Plan: Boats Up the River G PreK - 2

Written By: Lisa Shoults
Grade Level: PreK - 2

Time Allotment

Three to Five 30 minute sessions


With the use of Legos, these sessions are designed to give students the opportunity to design and develop early engineering techniques and patterning for math procedures.

Subject Matter

Math; Social Studies; Regional Arts; History and/or Culture

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:
  • Identify the shapes; circle, triangle, square, and rectangle.
  • Identify colors.
  • Develop fine motor control and coordination.
  • Learn through hands-on and exploratory play.
  • Exercise their creativity, problem solving, and build team-work skills.
  • Recognize the value of local history and the part it played in North Dakota.

    Students will listen to a variety of books and view a variety of video clips.

    Students will engage in group discussion about the Missouri River, boats, Lewis and Clark, Sakakawea, and the Heritage Center.

    Students will find North America and North Dakota on a map.

    Media Components - Video/Web

    Learn 360:
    All About Shapeshttp://www.learn360.com/showVideo.aspx?ID=132615
    Shapes and Colors Around Ushttp://www.learn360.com/showVideo.aspx?ID=254760
    Shapes in the World Around You: Lines, Angles, Circles, Triangles, Rectangles, and Squareshttp://www.learn360.com/showVideo.aspx?ID=318776
    Lewis and Clark Go West: To the Westhttp://www.learn360.com/showVideo.aspx?ID=145892
    Rivers of North America: Missourihttp://www.learn360.com/showVideo.aspx?ID=130099

    PBS Website:
    Postcards from Buster – Click on Songs – “The Ballad of the Baxters” (Mandan & Bismarck, ND) Click on My Blog – Find “Up the River” – (More information about Mandan/Bismarck)
    Click on ‘Parents and Teachers’, then ‘Resources’, then ‘recommended books to go along with unit’: “Three Days on a River in a Red Canoe” – Vera B. Williams — http://pbskids.org/buster/

    North Dakota Studies:
    Lewis and Clark’s North Dakota: Retracing Lewis and Clark’s steps – http://www.ndstudies.org/media/lewis_and_clarks_north_dakota_part1

    State Historical Society of North Dakota:
    This website provides a host of resources for use by students and teachers — history.nd.gov
    Online Exhibit: Creating Sakakawea (Background information and photos)

    First click on ‘K-12 Educators’ then click on ‘Gallery Visit Worksheets/Activity & Coloring Sheets’. (Missouri Riverboats, Lewis and Seaman(Dog), and Sakakawea Coloring Sheets).


  • Book – Three Days on a River in a Red Canoe? (Shared Reading)
  • 3 to 4 containers of Legos
  • 1 map of North America, United States and North Dakota
  • Writing and drawing materials
  • Teacher Preparation

  • Load the websites listed in this lesson plan so they are on your computer. Also become familiar with the content of these websites.
  • Go to the library and get the book: “Three Days on a River in a Red Canoe”
  • Prepare journaling booklets for each student.
  • Find and save boat pictures from Learn 360.
  • Go to history.nd.gov and make copies of Missouri River Boat page, Sakakawea page and Lewis & Seaman(dog) page
  • Introductory Activities

    Day One:
    1. Start the lesson with a video from Learn 360. Introduce the video: “All About Shapes”(listed above in Media Components). After the video review shapes.
    2. Bring out the Legos and show the shapes of the different Legos. Sort the Legos by shape and put in storage boxes. Discuss what a “story” is. A Lego “story” is the number of layers. Make various shapes out of Lego pieces. For example, use rectangle pieces and turn into bigger squares or triangles. Discuss what a cube and pyramid are and build these with the Lego pieces. Allow the students to create before showing an accurate model.

    Learning Activities

    Day Two:
    1. Watch the video from Learn 360 entitled “Shapes In The World Around You”(listed above in Media Components).
    2. Have the students work in teams of two. Have each team make a sturdy structure that is 10 to 20 Lego stories tall. Then each team can knock structures over. Finally, talk about what could have made each structure more sturdy.
    3. Have each team build a vehicle that two Lego people could sit in. Have them name their vehicle and describe its function.

    Day Three to Day Five:
    1. Read the book: “Three Days on a River in a Red Canoe”. Discuss how they traveled on the river. Bring up the website: pbskids.org/buster/ and have the students listen and sing to the song “The Ballad of the Baxters.” Go to the Blog on that website, share info and discuss things about a river. Ask students how they travel on a river and ask which river do we live by. Then show the video from Learn 360 called “Rivers of North America: Missouri River.”
    2. Find pictures of a variety of boats from Learn 360. Take out the Legos and start to build boats. This will be done in small groups. This activity might take three to five days. Each student will draw in their journal a picture of their boat. The students tell the teacher about their boat. The teacher writes in the student’s journal. Extension: put the boats in water (sensory table) to see if they sink or float.

    Culminating Activity

    1. Students show and tell the class about the boats they built.
    2. Play the video: “Lewis and Clark’s North Dakota: Retracing Lewis and Clark’s Steps. (See Media Components)
    3. Visit the online Exhibit “Creating Sakakawea”. (Locate at history.nd.gov). Click on K-12 Educators and then on Gallery Visit Worksheets. Print and copy the activity sheets available for this lesson: Missouri River Boats, Sakakawea, and Lewis & Seaman(his dog).

    Cross-Curricular Activity

    Social Studies: Students will be able to recognize the value of local history and the part it played in Bismarck, on the Missouri River, and in North Dakota. After watching videos and going to the online exhibit students will engage in group discussion about the Missouri River, boats, Lewis & Clark, and Sakakawea.

    On a large US Map show students the route Lewis and Clark took from Saint Louis, Missouri to Bismarck, North Dakota. Use directional terms and identify the states along the way. Students will draw in their journals and can draw a map of the journey, drawing things that Lewis and Clark might have seen along the way.

    Community Connections

    1. Take a field trip to the ND Heritage Center in Bismarck.
    2. On field trip show students the statue of Sakakawea and her son in front of the Heritage Center.
    3. Show pictures of the keel boat that is located at Keel Park by the Missouri River.
    4. Show picture of the big buffalo from Jamestown.

  • Journals: Booklets made by the teacher.
  • Pencils, Crayons, Markers