Student Activities

The Price of Western Expansion

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Grade Level:
Middle School: Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade
Subject:
Math,Social Studies
Common Core Standards:
7.EE.1, 7.EE.4.b
State Standards:
Gr 5-12 National Standards-Social Studies: World History Eras 4 & 7

Background

Students calculate the cost per square mile of the land purchased by the United States from Mexico after the U.S.-Mexican War. They compare that to the price of the Louisiana purchase and the purchase of Alaska. They then calculate the price paid in 1848 to what the price would have been today. 

Students can work individually, in groups, or as a class.

Before starting, review and print out the PDF files in the Materials section. Make sure there are enough dictionaries for students to use. Gather the real estate section(s) of the newspaper and make sure there are enough for the students to use.

Materials

Materials for this lesson plan include:

  1. The Price of Western Expansion Student Worksheet (PDF 347 KB)
  2. The Price of Western Expansion Answer Sheet (PDF 348 KB)

Part 1:

  • Tell students they will learn about the land purchased by the U.S. after the U.S.-Mexican War.
  • Define real estate (property in building and land) or have the students look up the definition.
  • Ask students why real estate is valuable and what makes it valuable. List responses on the board.

Part 2:

  • Hand out the student worksheet The Price of Western Expansion.
  • Allow students to review the worksheet.
  • Review the "Historic" column as a class and discuss:
    • How will you calculate the historic price per square mile (Division)
    • How will you set up the equation (divide price by the amount of land)
  • Tell students to complete the "Historic column."
  • Review the "Modern" column as a class and discuss:
    • How will you calculate the modern price per square mile (Multiplication)
    • How will you set-up the equation (multiply the historic price by the amount a dollar was worth from that time to the worth of a dollar today)
  • Ask students which land deal was the best

Part 3:

  • Divide students into groups of three-four students/group.
  • Hand out the real estate section of the newspaper to each group. (Optional: Allow students to look up sales of real estate on the Internet.)
  • Tell students to compare current property prices to those paid for the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo.
  • Have students share and explain their answers with the rest of the class.
  • Ask students if the land was based on these real estate prices, how much should the United States paid for land purchased after the U.S.-Mexican War.

Additional Resources

Background information  of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo can be found at ourdocuments.gov.

 
The National Archives has a lesson plan about the treaty on their Teaching with Historic Documents page.

 

 

Materials

Download The Price of Western Expansion worksheet

Download The Price of Western Expansion answer key

Last updated: August 19, 2015