Lesson Plan

Picture Analysis/Stories from the Trail of Tears: Building Background Knowledge

Artist rendition of Cherokees walking The Trail of Tears in the winter months

Photo by Sam Kitts

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Grade Level:
Fourth Grade
Health, Linguistics, Literature, Mathematics, Science History, Social Studies, Writing
60 minutes
Group Size:
Up to 36 (6-12 breakout groups)
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
American Indians, Native American history, american indian culture, trail of tears, hiking trails, Paddling


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 learn how to survive the Trail of Tears by analyzing photos and stories from historical records that are associated with the Cherokee during the Trail of Tears.


  • The events the Cherokee experienced at removal. 
  • The events the Cherokee experienced on the Trail of Tears 
  • The nutritional needs of the Cherokee 


In "Picture Analysis/Stories from the Trail of Tears: Building Background Knowledge," Students will build background knowledge of the Cherokee as they walked along the Trail of Tears through photo analysis, reading real documented accounts from the Cherokee, and use prediction skills. 

This unit coincides with each, "Building Background Knowledge"  lesson plan but can be done independently. However, each lesson plan comes with its own set of objectives and assessments. This program takes 60 minutes to accomplish and targets 4th grade students. 


Walking Area – trail, track, or inside gymnasium,Pedometer/Walking AP,Student Trail of Tears ,Notebook Journal,Pencils,Computer with overhead projector,Internet Connection,Ration Pictures,Family Stories from the Trail of Tears,Map of the Trail of Tears,Daily Nutritional Guide,Poster Board,Magazines with food pictures,Computers for groups of students to conduct research,Trail of Tears photo,Yarn,Rulers,Glue.



  • The teacher will observe student participation throughout the photo analysis.

  •  The teacher will observe student participation during story activity.

  • The teacher will critique class presentation.

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

Additional Resources

Additional Resources and Websites


Trail of Tears
Native American

Last updated: April 14, 2015