Hands-On Activities for Studying the 1800s

May 27, 2020

Jeannette Tuionetoa

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When it comes to history with kids, it can get pretty dry, really fast. Use these hands-on activities for studying the 1800s to spruce up your history lesson plans.

Hands-On Activities for Studying the 1800s


The 1800s were years of exponential growth in America. Many events occurred during this time that it may be hard for homeschooling kids to complete it in a short period. 

One way to tackle this issue is to break up the events in sections. What’s cool is that you can pick and choose which events to mention briefly, and which to invest time in with your kids.

Here are a few of the topics to possibly cover with hands-on activities during your study of the 1800s.

Pioneer Life

The pioneers were those considered to have made their home in the American frontier in the 1800s. These people came from Britain, Germany, France, Sweden, Ireland, Russia, Scotland, and Italy.

They saw America as the land of opportunity. You can find out more about pioneers here. The resources and hands-on activities below will help your kids learn all about the pioneers and pioneer life.

Pioneer Unit Study Resources | Premeditated Leftovers

Focus on American Pioneers With These Clever Hands-On Activities | Education Possible

FREE Pioneer Printables and Montessori-Inspired Pioneer Activities | Living Montessori Now

Free Pioneer Printables and Montessori-Inspired Pioneer Activities

FREE Davy Crockett Unit Study Ideas | How to Homeschool for Free

American Girl Kirsten- Pioneer America Unit Study | Fields of Daisies

Pioneer Crafts for Kids | The Crafty Classroom

Lewis & Clark’s exploration

Two United States infamous explorers are Lewis and Clark. In 1804, Lewis and Clark headed west on a 2-year and 8,000-mile expedition in hopes of exploring the new Louisiana Purchase territory. These hands-on activities and resources will help your kids learn more about them.

FREE Printable Templates for The Lewis & Clark Lapbook | Homeschool Helper Online

Lewis and Clark for Kids – Activities, Worksheets, and more | 123 Homeschool 4 Me

Primary Student Lewis & Clark Unit Study Curriculum Bundle | Whole Child Homeschool

Hands-On Lewis and Clark Unit Study | Organized Homeschooler

Lewis and Clark Expedition Journal and Map Activities | Shelly Rees

Art & English Lewis & Clark Hands-On by Sharon Jeffus

FREE Download – Lewis and Clark Animal Discovery Journal | Education Possible

Lewis & Clark – Mighty Mississippi book & Sediment Activity | Tina’s Dynamic Homeschool Plus

Lewis & Clark Mighty Mississippi text with image examples of printables and filled plastic bottle experiments

War of 1812

The War of 1812 was fought between the United States and Great Britain due to violations of U.S. maritime rights. Trade restrictions from the British wasn’t just put on America, but also on France. They did lots more than American’s just didn’t agree with.

Find out more about the War of 1812 with the resources below:

Learning Ideas about James Madison and the War of 1812 | Line Upon Line Learning

War of 1812 – 3 Minute History | Jabzy

Western Expansion

The western expansion started in the 1800s and began with the Louisiana Purchase. The expansion was ignited by the Gold Rush, the Oregon Trail, and the idea of “manifest destiny.”

Check out these hands-on activities to teach your kids about Western Expansion in America:

Westward Expansion Trading Cards (US History) | Technology Integration Depot

Project-Based Westward Expansion Unit Study | Our Journey Westward

10 Ways to Teach Westward Expansion During Your Literacy Block | Around the Kampfire

Oregon Trail – The Great Migration

The Oregon Trail was a crucial transportation route for those emigrating from Missouri to Oregon during the mid-1800s. The trail was laborious and went 2,200 miles from east to west.

FREEBIES & Activities for The Oregon Trail (5/22/1843)

On This Day in History Oregon Trail the Great Migration May 22, 1834

6 Covered Wagon Learning Activities for Middle School | Education Possible

Oregon Trail Lapbook and Notebook Pages | Homeschool Den

California Gold Rush

The Gold Rush was inspired by the discovery of gold nuggets in the Sacramento Valley in 1848. Thousands of people traveled there in hopes to mine the gold there—a total of 2 billion dollars (over 750,000 pounds) worth of gold.

FREE Printable Gold Rush Worksheet

Learning About the California Gold Rush Activities | The Barefoot Homeschooling Mom

Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad was formed in the late 1700s. It ran north and ran continuously until the start of the Civil War. It was a safe haven for escaped slaves on their way for hopes of freedom and opportunity north.

Leaders of the Underground Railroad FREE Worksheet | Education.com

19 Harriet Tubman Movie Lesson Plans, Activities, and Projects | Homeschool Super Freak

Civil War (1961 – 1965)

In its most simple explanation, Americans disagreed on slavery. The North sought to free people from slavery, and the South wanted to keep slavery for their plantations. Your kids can read about and learn more about the Civil War with the below resources.

Bring history to life for your students! You will learn fun facts about what life was like and how things differed for children during a particular time in history.

These fun notebooking journals include coloring sheets, spaces to draw illustrations, questions for research, comparison charts, and more.

History Themed Notebooking Adventures text with image examples of workbook covers

Hands-On Activities for Studying the Civil War

Hands-On Activities for Studying the Civil War

FREE Leaders of the American Civil War Notebooking

Leaders of the American Civil War Free Printable Notebook

FREE Civil War Printables & Resources for Your Homeschool

Free Civil War Printables & Resources for Your Homeschool

Grab these hands-on activities for studying the 1800s:

Studying Mid-American History with Movies | Whole Child Homeschool

Reform Movements of the 1800s Task Cards Activity | Koala Case Curriculum

Reform Movements DBQ, Document Based Questions Google and Print | Learned Lessons LLC

From history to politics, to culture – how well do you know the 1800s? (FREE Online Quiz) | Quiz Freak

American Reform Movements of the 1800’s Magazine Project | Students of History

What People Ate in the 1800s? | Ancestry

American History Crafts & Projects: the 1800s | A Book In Time

Fun Colonial Games for Children To Play | Education Possible

Planning Our 1800s America Unit Studies | Next Gen Homeschool

Transportation in Ohio in the Early 1800s | JRSpradlin

Hands-On Activities for Studying the 1800s

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