Gilded Age Unit Plan

Instructor: Laura McNeice

Laura has a masters in Curriculum and Instruction in Social Studies Education and has been teaching for 7 years in North Carolina.

The Gilded Age was a time of tremendous growth and progress as the nation began recovering from the US Civil War. This unit plan contains lessons and activities that focus on the changing economic, political, and social climate of this period.

Gilded Age Unit Plan

With the ending of the Civil War in the 1860s, the United States went through a long-lasting period of growth and success, which caused a growth in industry, political power, imperialism, and immigration. The Gilded Age created a diverse and dynamic society that lead to greater influence for the US worldwide. This unit provides a vast amount of resources to use in the classroom as you make the individual choices about what to emphasize. This unit is designed to give an overview of the time period with extension lessons that can be used to enhance and personalize your instruction to the interests of your students. This unit would be best used in a high school US history classroom.


Use The Gilded Age Lesson Plan to introduce your students to the climate of the age by using political cartoon analysis and partner work. This lesson should be a great way for students to dip their toes into the topic of the Gilded Age.

Industrial Revolution

As you move into the subtopics of the Gilded Age, start with the Industrial Revolution, as it was a large catalyst for the other changes that occurred during this time. The American Industrial Revolution Lesson Plan is a good lesson to start with as it will introduce the students to the essential inventions from this period and pairs it with the significance they had on daily life. As you introduce the growing industries, you should also introduce students to the men who became rich during this time. The Robber Barons Lesson Plan introduces students to the general idea of ''robber barons'' and then goes deeper into a case study of Andrew Carnegie, a very successful industrialist.

Utilize the Second Industrial Revolution Urbanization Lesson Plan to illustrate the change over time that occurred as industrialization grew throughout the age. This lesson will have students directly examining the side effect of urbanization through discussion, group work, and image analysis. This topic is crucial for students to fully understand the true and long-lasting impacts of the Gilded Age on American society.

As you wrap up discussing this subtopic, the American Industry Development in the Gilded Age Lesson Plan has a great mini-debate activity in which the students can evaluate the pros and cons of the Industrial Revolution in depth. Another wrap-up lesson you could consider using would be the Market Revolution Lesson Plan, which helps students to examine the Industrial Revolution through the lens of moral versus monetary gains. This will have students bringing in the knowledge of urbanization with the extreme economic growth that occurred during this time. Gauge which one would best fit your classroom.


During this era of US history, there was a large wave of new immigrants to the country. In the Immigration During the Gilded Age Lesson Plan, students will examine the topic of immigration during this period from two sides of the debate, immigrants and nativists. They will use historical fiction to illustrate the plight of the immigrants and then discuss how the nativists reacted to these new populations. As an extension of this lesson, you should also introduce your students to the political machines that often dominated poor immigrants lives in the bigger cities. This can be done by utilizing the Tammany Hall Lesson Plan which is a case study of the most famous political machine that operated out of New York City.

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