Emancipation Proclamation Lesson Plan for Elementary School

Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

Use this lesson plan to teach your students about the historical events that surrounded the Emancipation Proclamation. They'll delve into the Proclamation itself, and discuss its important ramifications as well as their personal thoughts on the document.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to do the following:

  • Understand the historical circumstances under which the Emancipation Proclamation was issued
  • Recognize the key events surrounding Emancipation Proclamation


60 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.


Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.


  • arts and craft supplies
  • printer paper, 6 sheets per group of 3 - 4 students


  • Prior to your students' arrival, print a copy of the text of the Emancipation Proclamation from the national archives website and place one on each desk. Print copies of the quiz, one for each student.
  • Have students read the lesson Emancipation Proclamation: Lesson for Kids silently.
  • Instruct students to stop reading when they reach the 'Reaction to the Emancipation Proclamation' heading. Hold a short class discussion on the topics discussed in the lesson thus far to ensure your students understand the material. Some example discussion questions include the following:
    • Why wouldn't the southern states accept Lincoln's offer?
    • Why do you think Lincoln's hand was shaking? Why was he the most certain he had ever been that he was doing the right thing?
  • Have students read the rest of the lesson.
  • Hold another short discussion on the remainder of the material. Some example discussion questions include the following:
    • How did abolitionists feel about the Proclamation?
    • What happened after the Proclamation was made?
  • Pass out the quizzes. Have your students take the lesson quiz.
  • Have students exchange their quizzes with a classmate and correct the quizzes together as a class.

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