Lesson Plan

Burning Calories on the Trails of Tears

The Cherokee Walking The Trail of Tears
The Cherokee Walking During the Trail of Tears
Photo By Sam Kitts
Grade Level:
Fourth Grade
Health, Linguistics, Literature, Mathematics, Science History, Social Studies, Writing
60 minutes
Group Size:
Up to 36
in the park
National/State Standards:

4.1, 4.2, 4.3
4.5, 4.9, 4.10
4.5, 4.7, 4.15
4.24, 4.25, 4.26, 4.28, 4.29, W. 4.1, 4.2, 4.7, 4.8
4.32, 4.35, SL. 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, L.4.1, L.4.2, L.4.3, L.4.6
L.4.4a, 4.4.b,
4.OA.2, 4.OA.3, 4.NBT.4, 4.NBT.5, 4. MD.1, 4. MD.2
trail of tears, American Indians, Native American culture, Native American history, native americans, Physical Fitness, fitness, hiking, Paddling, Alabama, social studies, history


Russell Cave National Monument is one of the few National Parks that is located and associated with the rich cultural stories of the Trail of Tears. Students will estimate the number of calories the Cherokee burned a day by learning about the Benge route and participating in a one-mile hike.


The events the Cherokee experienced at removal.

The events the Cherokee experienced on the Trail of Tears.

The nutrional needs of the Cherokee.


In "Burning Calories on the Trail of Tears" 4th grade students will get the chance to experince many of the factors that the Cherokee experinced as they walked the Trail of Tears. Students will learn about the Benge route by using interactive maps and discussing the food sources that the Cherokee used during the Trail of Tears.


Materials List


  1. The students will answer the following questions in their Trail of Tears Notebook Journal. They may discuss answers with the class.  
    1. How do we get energy?
    2. How do our bodies use energy?
    3. What do we use the energy for?
    4. How do we calculate our energy?
    5. What happens if we do not have enough energy?

  1. The teacher will explain to the students that they will be going on a hike to determine how long it takes to walk a mile and how many calories it takes to walk the mile.
    1. Suggested hikes at National Parks:

i.Russell Cave National Monument Hiking Trail 1.2 miles

                     ii.Russell Cave National Monument Nature Trail .5 miles

iii.Little River Canyon National Preserve Path to Learning Trail .5 miles

iv.Little River Canyon National Preserve Canyon Mouth Trail 1 mile

v.Little River Canyon National Preserve Beaver Pond Trail Loop 1.5 miles

vi.Desoto State Park Tail Map Link: http://www.alapark.com/parks/images/desoto/PDF-Files/2013-DeSoto-State-Park-Trail-Map-page-1-Letter.pdf

    1. The teacher and students will walk one mile using a pedometer or smart phone with a calorie counter. If your class can not visit one of the National Park trails in your area they can walk at a school track, park, or in a gymnasium.
    2. The students will write down how long it took them to walk a mile in their Trail of Tears Notebook Journal.
    3. The students will write down how many calories it took to walk the mile in their Trail of Tears Notebook Journal.

  1. Students will research how many miles the Native Americans walked on the Trail of Tears.
    1. National Park Service http://www.nps.gov/trte/historyculture/stories.htm

  1. Students will use maps to track and identify the path the Cherokee from
    1. Students will use the 2012 Trail of Tears Map 3.40 (attached) and highlight the Benge Route using the Interactive 2012 Trail of Tears 2.70 MG PDF map for clarification. (The 2.70 map allows you to click and enlarge areas on the map.)

i.Link to NPS interactive map: http://www.nps.gov/trte/planyourvisit/maps.htm

ii.Link toPBS interactive map: http://www.pbs.org/indiancountry/history/interactive_map.html

iii.The students will place a piece of yarn along the highlighted route.

iv.The students will use a ruler to measure the yarn.

v.Students will measure the map scale with the ruler.

vi.Students will determine the amount of miles the Cherokee walked using the information gained by measuring the yarn and comparing it with the map scale

1.(Optional) Students will glue the yarn onto the map showing the Benge Route.

vii.Students will assess the information gained through research and section C of lesson with their findings from the maps to determine the amount of miles walked.

  1. Students will calculate how many calories were burned along the Trail of Tears.
    1. Students will multiply their findings of calories burned from the hike and how many miles were walked on the Trail of Tears.
    2. Students will estimate how many calories were burned a day when walking the Trial of Tears 10 – 15 miles per day.



The teacher will observe activities on the hike.

The teacher will observe students as they complete activities and offer suggestions.

The teacher will read over Trail of Tears Notebook Journal Responses.

Additional Resources

Additional Resources and Websites


•Trail of Tears
•Native American