Progressive Era 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 other resources from, you'll be able to show your students why they have to go to school, as well as why the food they eat is safe for human consumption.

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson students should be able to do the following:

  • Recognize the importance of the Progressive Movement to late 19th-century and early 20th-century American history
  • Analyze the motivations of the Progressives


40 minutes, plus 40 minutes for the activity

Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

Key Terms

During the lesson, students should pay special attention to these terms:

  • Progressive Era
  • 16th Amendment
  • 17th Amendment
  • 18th Amendment
  • 19th Amendment
  • Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
  • Pure Food and Drug Act
  • Meat Inspection Act


Start by discussing the impact of the Industrial Revolution with your class. Who benefited from all of this? What do you think the fate of the common worker was during this period?


First begin by reading the lesson The Progressive Era: Definition & Amendments, making a point to write down any key terms as well as asking the following discussion questions afterwards:

  • What motivated the Progressive Movement?
  • How was each of the four Progressive Amendments Progressive? Do you think this was ultimately a good thing for the country? Why or why not?

Now watch the video Work and Home Improvements of the Progressive Era, again pausing for key terms and the following points of discussion:

  • 1:51 - Why did some people believe that investing more in the common person would mean that society would become more productive?
  • 4:16 - How does this desire to help children go back to the previous point about helping people become more productive in the long run?
  • 6:55 - Ultimately, do you think the Progressive Era was more about the conditions of individuals or the conditions of families? Why or why not?

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