Initiation Lesson Plan



  • The students will identify where the mountain men started their journey to the West.
  • The students will understand the reasons the mountain men went West and why they stopped trapping.
  • The students will be able to name three mountain men.
  • The students will be able to explain that silk replaced beaver as a fashion trend. 


The mountain man’s era is important to Utah, especially Northern Utah. This lesson will be given with the intent to introduce the students to who the mountain men were, why they came West, and how they lived while they were here.


Orientation/Anticipatory Set
  1. Tell the students that today and the next few weeks we will be learning about mountain men. Do a KWL with the students to get an idea of what they would like to learn about mountain men and explorers and what they already know.
  2. Let them know that today we will be watching a video about mountain men and that they will need to pay close attention because they will be answering questions about it later.
  3. The class will watch a video about mountain men from a series called The Real West. The video is paused after parts that the class will talk about. The class discusses the parts that are paused and finishes watching the video.

Lesson Development

  1. When the portion of the video we are watching is over, ask if there are any questions. Ask the students to share something with the class that they learned from the video, which they did not know before. Review with the students that most of the mountain men started from Saint Louis, Missouri. Remind them that many mountain men and explorers set out with adventure and curiosity on their minds, but the main reason most of them went was to trap beaver.
  2. Find out if they understand that beavers were trapped to satisfy the trends of the rich. Make sure they know that they stopped trapping because silk was found and it became the new fashion trend.


Play a game like "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" with questions that the children can answer in their table groups. These will be questions that we discussed as we paused the video.


Assessment Plan:

The students will be watched to see if they are participating with their groups. Also assessed will be their ability to answer questions that we talked about as a class. The assessment will be informal. No papers or tests will be handed out or be expected from the students.



  • Video: The Real West (made by the History Channel).
  • Television and VCR


Other Possible Initiation Activities
  1. What Would I Take? - Writing Activity

    After discussing and learning where the mountain men and explorers came from and went, and why they went West, the students would write a personal journal about what they would take on a long journey to the wilderness. They will describe what they will take and will explain why they think the items they chose are important. Materials needed: writing utensils, paper. Time needed: approx. 45 minutes.

  2. Children Debate

    Discuss that the reason the mountain men primarily came was to trap beaver for their fur. Have the class split into two sides. Explain that one side of the class will argue for trapping and hunting as mountain men. The other side will argue against hunting and trapping. They will speak as if they lived then. Let each side discuss their own arguments for fifteen minutes before bringing them together for the debate. Explain to the class the rules of debate and let them know that you expect them to respect each other. Remember to debrief afterwards. Materials needed: Information for both groups on their topic to get them talking. Time needed: approx. 1hr.

  3. Who/What/Where Am I?

    As the students come in from recess, put a string around each child’s neck, which is attached to a card. The card will have on it a word that pertains to mountain men and will be facing out on the students’ backs. Have the students sit in their seats until you give them further instructions. When they are all seated, instruct them to ask their classmates yes/no questions to find out what word(s) are on their cards. When most have figured out what their cards say, ask them to trade and try again. Materials needed: Note cards and strings for each student. Time needed: Approx. 30 minutes.


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