Lesson 6: The West

Getting Started

Materials: "Timeline of American History"*
People living in America gradually migrated from the eastern seaboard to the West. Read pages 60-61 in Smart About the Fifty States. These pages explain how the United States grew. The West has wide-open spaces, and the population is not as dense as it is in other regions of the country. There are some very large cities in the west: Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles to name a few. The West has a rich history involving cowboys, gold, oil, and cattle. There have been many movies made about the "Old West."

If you are using the "Timeline of American History," record that the Louisiana Purchase took place in 1803, western land was won from Mexico in the Mexican-American War in 1848, and The Oregon Treaty was signed in 1846.

Stuff You Need

  • "Timeline of American History"* (optional)
  • Smart About the Fifty States: A Class Report by Jon Buller
  • blue and brown icing
  • cardboard
  • chocolate chips
  • cookie dough
  • rolling pin
  • toothpick

* - denotes an optional material that may or may not be needed

Ideas to Think About

  • What relationships and interactions do residents have with the states in which they live?
  • How does the geography of a state affect the culture?

Things to Know

  • The western region includes the states of California, Nevada, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, Montana, and Oregon.
  • The climate and geography vary in different parts of the West. Some parts have flat and dry deserts; other parts have dense forests and mountain ranges; and still others have coastal climates on the ocean.
  • In the West, people enjoy swimming in the ocean, skiing in the mountains, and going to the rodeo.
  • Relief maps are three-dimensional representations of the terrain found in a geographic area.


  • Explain patterns of settlement at different time periods. (SS)
  • Describe the distribution of settlement in the United States. (SS)

Introducing the Lesson

Explain to your child that today she will finish her journey across the continental United States, ending in the West.
Reading and Questions
In Smart About the Fifty States read about the states in the West. After reading about them, add a major landform and body of water to each state on the map. You can use the book and other resources as needed.
  • Washington
  • Oregon
  • Idaho
  • Montana
  • Wyoming
  • California
  • Nevada
  • Utah
  • Colorado
The Western States
Student Activity Page
Your child will draw and label a landform and body of water found in each state of the West.