Lesson Plan

History of the Natchez Trace

Slide of travelers on the Natchez Trace
Natchez Trace travelers
NPS Photo
Grade Level:
Second Grade
Social Studies
1 class period
Group Size:
Up to 36
National/State Standards:
Language Arts: 2, 2b, 2d

Social Studies: 1, 2, 2a, 2b, 2c, 2d, 3, 5
human migration, early settlers, settlers, Old Trace, Natchez Trace, Old Southwest, Roads, Mississippi History, Alabama History, Tennessee History, boatmen, Kaintucks, natchez trace parkway


The teacher will show the students a map of the Natchez Trace Parkway and show the students where they live in relation to the Parkway. The teacher will read "How the Natchez Trace Came to Be" (downloadable)  to the students.  The teacher has the option for several activities. The students can take notes during the reading of the story, help to retell the story, write sentences, fll out a cloze activity, and/or draw a picture of the Natchez Trace Parkway.


Enduring Understanding: Human migration impacts cultural development of societies.

Essential Question: Who were the people who created the Natchez Trace Parkway?

The students will:

1) Listen for comprehension and interpret a story.

2) Relate information in the non-fictional story to their own lives.

3) Locate the Natchez Trace Parkway on a map.

4) Copy or write 5 to 6 sentences about the story.


The beginning of the Natchez Trace was initiated many years ago by animals and subsequently by American Indians who followed the trails to hunt game. After the Europeans began to explore the land, they also used the Indian and animal trails. Later, the Kaintucks, or boatmen used the American Indian trails to walk back home to the Ohio River Valley areas. They had ridden their flatboats down the Mississippi River to trade goods and furs in Natchez, Mississippi and paddling up the Mississippi was impossible, so the Kaintucks walked the most direct way back home, the Natchez Trace. The Natchez Trace was also used a Postal Road. The Trace was the quickest way to get from Nashville, Tennessee to Natchez, Mississippi. The Natchez Trace has been traveled for many years. The Natchez Trace we travel today is not the same as the one the Kaintucks had to travel many years ago. Now, the Trace follows closely to the original trail, but because of some of the original Trace is on private land, the contractors in the 1930s improvised and built the roadway according to availability. Parts of the Old Trace can still be found along the Parkway and are still available for visitors to walk. 


o Kaintucks- a person who traveled the Natchez Trace Parkway back home to the Ohio River Valley

o National Park Service- part of the Department of Interior that is responsible for nationals parks, monument, and historical sites


1. How the Trace Came to Be (as a book or powerpoint)

2. Paper, pencils, colored pencils

3. Official map of the Natchez Trace Parkway

4.) Natchez Trace History Worksheet

5.) Natchez Trace Worksheet Answer Key

6.) Notes Sheet


Student Task: The students will determine their location in relation to the Natchez Trace Parkway. The students will listen to How the Natchez Trace Came to Be . The students will take notes on the Note-Taking sheet as the story is being read. They are to focus on when the Natchez Trace was developed, how it was developed, and who protects it now. When the story has been read, the students and teacher will retell the story orally as a class discussion. This time, the teacher will write the information to complete the note sheet on the board for the students that did not to take good notes during the reading of the story. The students will then use their note sheet to compose at least one paragraph summarizing the formation of the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Option: The teacher may encourage the students to illustrate their stories. Option: The class may collectively retell the story as the teacher writes it on the board. The students will then copy the story from the board.

Student Instruction:

1.) On an official Natchez Trace Parkway map, the students will collectively determine their location in relation to the Natchez Trace Parkway.

2.) The students will listen as the teacher reads How the Natchez Trace Came to Be. As the story is being read, the students should take notes on any information they think is important. The teacher will provide the note sheet for students to use.

3.) After the story is read, the teacher will lead the students in the writing process: 1. Planning - 2. Drafting - 3. Revising - 4. Editing - 5. Publishing. The teacher will keep the story available to students if they need to reread the story to find information. The students will complete the assignment in the classroom.

Teacher Closure: The teacher will allow several students to read their reports to the class.


The students will be graded on grammar, mechanics, and punctuation.

Park Connections

This program teaches students of the history of the Natchez Trace Parkway.


1.) To conclude the lesson, the teacher may research and show a video from the internet. One example is "Exploring Natchez Trace" from the link http://www.vehix.com/video/vehix-adventures/exploring-natchez-trace/ CAUTION: advertisements at the beginning of video may not be appropriate to show in a classroom. This short video shows footage and audio about some of the sites along the Natchez Trace Parkway.

2.) Book a trip for the class to the Natchez Trace Parkway where they can have a ranger led program about the history of the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Additional Resources

Video on "Exploring Natchez Trace": http://www.vehix.com/video/vehix-adventures/exploring-natchez-trace/


Kaintucks, National Park Service