Great States: Daniel Boone and the Opening of the Blue Grass State

Great States: Daniel Boone and the Opening of the Blue Grass State
Elizabeth Monroe: Economics, Discovery and Daily Life

Skill: Elementary School
Time Required: One week


The wilderness exploits of Daniel Boone were well known to several generations of First Ladies, including Elizabeth Monroe.  Although her public role as the wife of President James Monroe was not large (she preferred a much more private one), it is probable that she knew when her husband awarded a large tract of land in Missouri to Boone in 1815, as it is likely that she recognized the importance of his opening of large amounts of land in what would become Kentucky and further western territories.


Students who participate in this activity will learn about Daniel Boone’s part in the exploration of land ‘west’ of the original colonies, and his part in the exploration and development of the state of Kentucky.

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet; access to print materials; PowerPoint or other materials for presentations.


1.  Begin the lesson by showing students the U.S. Explorers (1675-1800) map (below), paying particular attention to the Kentucky area, Boone’s camp in eastern Kentucky, and the relation of this area to the rest of the colonies.
2,  Then, dividing the class into six groups, and using the websites below, as well as any print materials that are available, assign the following research areas to students:
  • Daniel Boone’s early life
  • Daniel Boone in the French and Indian War era
  • Daniel Boone’s exploration and settlement of Kentucky
  • The Wilderness Trail
  • The Cumberland Gap
  • Daniel Boone’s final years
3.  When the research is complete, each group should prepare a presentation—a PowerPoint (minimum four slides) or a large poster—so that the information gathered by the students is shared with the whole class.
4.  Conclude the lesson by discussing with the students those aspects of Daniel Boone’s life that could have been the basis for stories and legends that grew “larger than life,” even though they are—mostly—true.

Extending the Lesson:

This lesson could be extended by having a “Daniel Boone Festival” in your classroom and sharing the students’ new knowledge with other classes in the school.

Sources & Resources:

Kozar, Richard.  Daniel Boone and the Exploration of the Frontier. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 2000.
Stevenson, Augusta.  Daniel Boone: Young Hunter and Tracker.  New York: Aladdin Paperbacks, 1986.
Zronik, John.   Daniel Boone: Woodsman of Kentucky.  St. Catherine’s, Ontario: Crabtree Publishing, 2006.

U.S. Exploration and Settlement, 1675-1800 (map)
Daniel Boone, American Pioneer and Trailblazer
Daniel Boone Homestead
Daniel Boone at Wikipedia
Daniel Boone Timeline
Kentucky History
The Wilderness Trail
The Cumberland Gap
This lesson was developed by Averil McClelland, Kent State University.