Grade Levels: 6-8, 9-12

NOTE TO EDUCATORS: The BrainPOP movie featured in this lesson plan contains descriptions of the suffering endured by Native Americans as they were forcibly relocated by federal troops. Due to the difficult nature of this topic, consider previewing the movie before showing it to the class.

*Click to open and customize your own copy of the Trail of Tears Lesson Plan.

This lesson accompanies the BrainPOP topic Trail of Tears, and supports the standard of describing the cooperation and conflict that existed among Native Americans and between the Native American nations and the new settlers. Students demonstrate understanding through a variety of projects.


Ask students:

  • What do you already know about Native American history?
  • What do you want to know more about?


  • Read the description on the Trail of Tears topic page.
  • Play the Movie, pausing to check for understanding. 
  • Assign Related Reading. Have students read one of the following articles: “Did You Know?” or “In Depth” Partner them with someone who read a different article to share what they learned with each other.

Step 3: APPLY and ASSESS 

Assign the Trail of Tears Challenge and Quiz, prompting students to apply essential literacy skills while demonstrating what they learned about this topic.


Students express what they learned about the Trail of Tears while practicing essential literacy skills with one or more of the following activities. Differentiate by assigning ones that meet individual student needs.

  • Make-a-Movie: Produce a mini-documentary explaining the effects of the Indian Removal Act. 
  • Make-a-Map: Create a timeline identifying the events leading up to and following the Trail of Tears.
  • Primary Source Activity: Read a letter from the Cherokee Nation to Congress, then cite details to answer accompanying questions.

More to Explore  

Related BrainPOP Topics: Deepen understanding of Native American history with these topics: Native American Traditions, Tecumseh, Seminole Wars, and Reservations.

Teacher Support Resources:

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments