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The French in Texas

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Subject: Texas History, English Language Arts and Reading

Grade: 4th

Author: Mary Janecek-Friedman, revised by Jason Terry (2023)

Time Duration: Two or three class periods

Objective: To give students a broad understanding of early French exploration and settlement in Texas.


Social Studies, Grade 4

  • (1C), describe the cultural regions in which American Indians lived such as Gulf, Plains, Puebloan, and Southeastern
  • (2A), summarize motivations for European exploration and settlement of Texas, including economic opportunity, competition, and the desire for expansion
  • (2B), identify the accomplishments and explain the impact of significant explorers, including Cabeza de Vaca; Francisco Coronado; and RenĂ© Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle, on the settlement of Texas
  • (2C), explain when, where, and why the Spanish established settlements and Catholic missions in Texas as well as important individuals
  • (8B), explain reasons why people have adapted to and modified their environment in Texas, past and present, such as the use of natural resources to meet basic needs, facilitate transportation, and enhance recreational activities
  • (19A), differentiate between, locate, and use valid primary and secondary sources such as technology; interviews; biographies; oral, print, and visual material; documents; and artifacts to acquire information about Texas
  • (19C), organize and interpret information in outlines, reports, databases, and visuals, including graphs, charts, timelines, and maps; and
  • (19D), identify different points of view about an issue, topic, historical event, or current event
  • (21D), create written and visual material such as journal entries, reports, graphic organizers, outlines, and bibliographies

Language Arts, Grade 4

  • (6A), establish purpose for reading assigned and self-selected texts
  • (6F), make inferences and use evidence to support understanding
  • (6G), evaluate details read to determine key ideas
  • (12B), compose informational texts, including brief compositions that convey information about a topic, using a clear central idea and genre characteristics and craft
  • (13C), identify and gather relevant information from a variety of sources


Activities and Procedures:

Step 1: Display "French Settlement in Texas Questions" on the overhead projector. Have students number a sheet of notebook paper from 1-10. Read the 10 statements aloud to students and have them write T for true or F for false by the statement's corresponding number on their paper. When they finish, let them know that they will be learning the answers to these questions over the next two days.

Step 2: Give each student a copy of "La Salle and Fort St. Louis" research and writing directions and read it aloud with students.

Step 3: Display the two grading rubrics and go over them with students before they begin their research. Post hard copies of the rubrics in the classroom for student reference.

Step 4: Distribute copies of "The French in Texas - Researching Notes."" Have students work with research partners to view the assigned websites and take notes.

Step 5: Using their notes, students will work alone or with a partner to create an illustrated journal with several entries.

Step 6: Students will answer questions on the "French Settlement in Texas Test."

Student Products:

  • Research notes
  • A journal entry from the point of view of a Karankawa who battled the French settlers of Fort St. Louis, a French person who accompanied La Salle on his journeys, or a Spanish explorer who discovered the remnants of Fort St. Louis after the French had left.
  • A 10-question test on the lessons initial questions

Closure: Volunteers may share their journal entries with the class.

Extension Activities:

1. Students may create a Google Slides presentation about La Salle and Fort St. Louis.

2. Students can research other explorers and write journal entries about their experiences.

3. Students may work together to create a mural showing what happened with La Salle and the French at Fort St. Louis.

Assessment: "French Settlement in Texas Test" after finishing all other activities.