Lesson Plan

Mountain Man: Pre-visit activity

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Grade Level:
Third Grade-General
History, Westward Expansion
45 minutes
Group Size:
Up to 24 (4-8 breakout groups)
National/State Standards:
These activities are designed to include Missouri, Illinois, and national standards for Social Studies and Language Arts.


Students will roleplay a “rendezvous” activity depicting the trading activities of mountain men during the mid-1800s.


barter – To trade goods or services without the exchange of money
bison—a wild animal with a shaggy mane and curved horns; another name for the American buffalo
cache– A place for hiding or storing provisions or equipment
castoreum– The oily substance produced by castor gland inside beaver
confluence– A place where two or more streams or rivers flow together
felt– An unwoven fabric made by matting together fibers of wool, fur, or hair using heat, pressure and/or chemicals
gaff–rowdy fun; also, to hook fish with a gaff hook
Great Plains—the level stretch of land located between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River
habitat– The part of the physical environment in which a plant or animal lives.
pelt– The skin of an animal with the fur left on
pioneer—a person who goes before others. Pioneers led the way in settling the West
rawhide—a piece of animal skin that has not been treated in any way, but dries hard and stiff
rendezvous– A French word meaning “the place where we meet;” used by mountain men when referring to an annual gathering for meeting and trading.
resource—something that meets the needs of a community. Resources can come from
nature or be man-made
season—a period of time marked by weather or special events. Winter, spring, summer and fall are the seasons of the year
settler—a person who makes a permanent home in a place
sinew—a stringy fiber connecting muscle tissues to bone; used by American Indians for sewing, bowstrings, etc.

Last updated: April 10, 2015