Kansas-Nebraska Act Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught history, and has an MA in Islamic law/finance. He has since founded his own financial advice firm, Newton Analytical.

With this lesson plan and text lesson, you'll have everything you need to help your students better understand the events of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854.

Lesson Objectives

After this lesson, students should be able to:

  • Describe the history of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854
  • Analyze its role on the issue of slavery in the United States
  • Identify the role of Abraham Lincoln in the Kansas-Nebraska Act


1 hour

Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.

Key Terms

  • Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854
  • Missouri Compromise
  • Bleeding Kansas
  • John Brown


  • To initiate learning and activate prior knowledge, review the facts leading to the sectional crisis facing the United States. Make sure your students understand that slavery is at the core of this argument.
  • Tell students they will be discussing the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, by reading the text lesson Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854: Summary, Definition, & Significance.
  • As a class or individually, read the sections 'Background' and 'The Components of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854', defining the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. Make sure students have a clear idea of what was happening in America. Discuss:
    • Why might the Missouri Compromise have been viewed as fair? What ultimately defeated it?
  • Read the remainder of the lesson. Discuss:
    • What role did Abraham Lincoln play with respect to the Kansas-Nebraska Act?
    • How did the Kansas-Nebraska Act lead to violence?

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