Lesson Plan

Planning the Trek - 4th Grade Math Lesson

Natchez Parkway

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Grade Level:
Upper Elementary: Third Grade through Fifth Grade
Lesson Duration:
60 Minutes
State Standards:
MS Objectives:
3, 3a, 3b, 3c, 3d, 3f, 3h, 5, 5c
Thinking Skills:
Understanding: Understand the main idea of material heard, viewed, or read. Interpret or summarize the ideas in own words. Applying: Apply an abstract idea in a concrete situation to solve a problem or relate it to a prior experience. Creating: Bring together parts (elements, compounds) of knowledge to form a whole and build relationships for NEW situations.


Essential Question: What factors make it quicker to hike the Natchez Trace today rather than in the early 1800's?

The students will be able to:
1) Locate various places on Natchez Trace Parkway
2) Identify landmarks on a map
3) Measure distances between points on a map using using the four operations
4) Use critical thinking and math operations to plan a successful trip.


Students will use maps to locate specific points and measure the distances between those points. Students they will pretend they are mapping out a trip along the Natchez Trace. They will determine how long it would take to drive (easy), walk (hard), bike, and ride the Natchez Trace Parkway today. They will compare their answers to the average time it took historic boatmen to travel the Trace.

The old Natchez Trace was a hard place to walk. A very fast journey would take about two weeks. Most people took much longer; some people died or were murdered before they completed their journey. A healthy person in good shape can walk 15 or 20 miles per day. Today, an experienced bicyclist might travel 50 miles per day. The speed limit on the Natchez Trace Parkway is 50 miles per hour. Horses can average 35 miles on good trails.

Maps may be downloaded from our website https://www.nps.gov/natr/planyourvisit/maps.htm or call 1-800-305-7417



1.) Instructions

2.) Natchez Trace Map

3.) Bicycling Tracking Sheet

4.) Car or Motorcycle Tracking Sheet

5.) Hiking Trip Tracking Sheet

6.) Horseback Riding Tracking Sheet

7.) Scissors and tape to put the 4 sections of map in proper sequence


A math lesson to help student learn to plan a trip in a national park.

Download Lesson Plan for Planning the Trek

Lesson Hook/Preview

Math can help you plan a fun trip on the Natchez Trace Parkway.


Student Task: The students will determine the number of stops (nights) or the number of hours it takes to travel the Trace. The students may be assigned only the hiking option, or all of the options.

Student Instruction:

1.) Map a trip along the Natchez Trace.

2.) Depending on the teacher assignment, you will hike, bike, ride or drive.

3.) Hikers may hike no more than 20 miles per day. You may hike less than 20 miles.

4.) Bikers may bike no more than 50 miles but may bike less.

5.) Riders may ride no more than 35 miles but may ride less and drives must travel no more than 50 miles per hour.

6.) You will need to stop and spend the night at a town or campground.

7.) On your tracking sheet, write the name of the stop and the mileage you traveled that day. When you are done, count the number of stops you made. This is how many nights you spent on the Natchez Trace.

Teacher Closure: Lead the students in a discussion about what factors make it quicker to hike the Natchez Trace today rather than in the early 1800's.


Legend, map key, boatmen, Kaintuck, math, trip planning, mapping, measuring, distance, map skills

Supports for Struggling Learners

Reminders on board or on top of paper of days per week, hours in day, minutes in an hour. Have students help teacher with writing these important prior knowledge notes on the board.

Enrichment Activities


1.) Play the Trekking the Trace Classroom Game

2.) Visit the Natchez Trace Parkway and see how long it takes your school bus to travel from one point to the next.

Contact Information

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Last updated: February 14, 2018