Lesson Plan

Trace Trekking Game

Cottonmouth at Cypress Swamp
Cottonmouth at Cypress Swamp

NPS Photo

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Grade Level:
Fourth Grade-Eighth Grade
2 or more class periods, or 1 class period and home assignments
Group Size:
Up to 36
National/State Standards:
History: 1, 3, 4, 5)
human migration, Kaintucks, pioneers, pioneer trails, game, Survival


Explain to students that they will be developing and then playing their very own classroom size game.  They will be learning about the hazards encountered by people traveling the Natchez Trace during the 1800’s. This is an excellent fun review of a study of the old-southwest Mississippi territory history in 1700-1800, especially concerning the Natchez Trace Parkway.


Enduring Understanding: Human migrants faced many obstacles, hardships and challenges, some of which we may also face today.

Essential Question: What hazards did travelers of the Trace encounter?

This lesson will review the history and location of the Natchez Trace.

The students will be able to: 

1) understand the hazards of travel and survival during the 19th century

2) understand the historic significance of the Natchez Trace Parkway

3) (measurement option) measure distances along the Natchez Trace


Explain to the students that it took much longer for early visitors to the Natchez Trace (animals, American Indians, boatmen, etc.) to travel from Natchez to Nashville. Along the way they encountered many hazards. Brainstorm and review concepts before the students complete the assignment sheets.


1.) Official Natchez Trace Parkway map

2.) Assignment Directions for Teachers

3.) Assignment Sheet A

4.) Cards for Assignment A

5.) Assignment Sheet B

6.) Cards for Assignment B

7.) Assignment Sheet C

8.) 60 plain pieces of paper (20 hazard spaces, 40 location spaces)

9.) Markers, crayons, or colored pencils

10.) Rainbow 3x5 index cards (25 cards each of 5 colors, so that each student gets one card of each color)

11.) Rainbow Index Card Examples

12.) Game Piece for each team of students

13.) 1 die or 6 count spinner (see websites for spinners)

14.) 3 Tally sheets for each team (money, health, equipment)

15.) Place Name Markers

16.) Game Instructions

17.) Game Setup diagram

18.) Student Location Assignment Sheet



Participation in the activity and follow up discussion.

Park Connections

Explains the history of the Natchez Trace.


Have the students further research historical places and people on the Natchez Trace and write a paragraph or short report on the place or person.


Kaintuck, boatmen