Lesson Plan

Lost on the Trace

Trail sign
Trail sign on Natchez Trace Scenic Trail
NPS Photo


The students will be divided into pairs and they will pretend they are “Lost on the Trace”. They will be racing against each other to reach their destination by following the directions on a card.


Enduring Understanding: Geographers use tolls like globes, maps and compasses to gather and analyze data. 

Essential Question: How do you find North on a compass?

The students will be able to:

1) Identify cardinal and intermediate directions

2) give directions using cardinal and intermediate directions so that students end up at a predetermined location

3) follow directions using cardinal and intermediate directions so that students end up at a predetermined location


Early travelers on the Natchez Trace may get off the trail and find themselves lost. A compass would help travelers to keep moving in the right direction and reach their final destinations.


1.) 5 laminated pictures of locations on the Natchez Trace

2.) Direction cards

3.) Answer Key

4.) Marker to indicate starting point


Student Task: Follow instructions and work as a team. The students will receive a card with directions and will follow the directions on it using a compass.

Student Instruction:

1.) Have the students gather near a predetermined starting point.

2.) Give each pair of students a Direction Card in an envelope and a compass.

3.) On the go signal, students will remove their cards from the envelope and follow the directions written on them. They must start off at the marked starting point.

4.) When they reach their destinations, they should remain by the picture until a teacher checks to see if they reached the correct location.

Teacher Closure: Ask the students to imagine following directions in a heavily forested area. Have them discuss what obstacles they might encounter along the way.


Participation in the activity and success in following directions to the correct location.

Park Connections

Will teach students how to navigate parks using a compass.


Have the students participate in a similar activity on the school grounds or classroom. One student can give directions and the other student can follow them.


Natchez Trace, Kaintuck, Boatman