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Harriet Tubman Activities

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

Harriet Tubman is a great figure for getting students more engaged in history. Use these activities to help them explore the lives of historical figures beyond their textbooks.

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman was one of the great heroes of the 19th century. Born a slave, she escaped and became one of the most successful conductors on the Underground Railroad, an abolitionist and resistance organizer, and a spy for the Union Army during the US Civil War. These in-class activities can help students engage more deeply with their class material, exploring the life and legacy of Harriet Tubman in creative and unique ways.

Harriet Tubman Activities

Historical Fiction

For this activity, students are going to write a short story of historical fiction that features a fictional protagonist who interacts with Harriet Tubman in a real event in US history. They can choose to write in the first or third person perspectives, and should focus the story around one of the events of her life. This could be her work on the Underground Railroad, the Raid at Combahee Ferry, her time as a spy, or any other moment. Ask students to think about what historical fiction is, and how to insert fiction into real history. Students cannot make any major changes to history in their short story, but will have to invent dialogue and some actions.

  • Materials: Writing supplies, research supplies if desired.

Monument to Harriet Tubman

This activity can be completed by students independently or in groups. Students will imagine that they have been commissioned to create a public monument to Harriet Tubman. Their job is to come up with a design that they can pitch to the monument committee. Students will have to design this monument (will it be a statue of Tubman, a placard, a memorial garden, a work of art that is symbolic of her accomplishments?) as well as select its location in the USA. Give students time to complete their designs, reminding them that they only need to completing a rough sketch of their monument. When they are ready, ask students to pitch their design to the class.

  • Materials: Art and craft supplies as desired.

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