The Great Chicago Fire Lesson Plan for 3rd Grade

Instructor: Kristen Goode

Kristen has been an educator for 25+ years - as a classroom teacher, a school administrator, and a university instructor. She holds a doctorate in Education Leadership.

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 was an historic event in the city of Chicago. In this lesson plan, students will learn about the effects and possible causes of this fire and develop a project to report on what they learn.

Learning Objectives

By the conclusion of this lesson, students will:

  • Describe the Great Chicago Fire
  • Create a news report about the fire


1 - 2 class periods

Curriculum Standards


Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.


Determine the main idea of a text; recount the key details and explain how they support the main idea.


Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.


  • Printed copies of the text lesson, The Great Chicago Fire Lesson for Kids (one per student and one for the teacher)
  • Access to the lesson quiz/worksheet (printed copies if computer access is not available to students)
  • Miscellaneous art supplies (such as drawing paper, construction paper, markers, colored pencils, scissors, etc.) as needed


  • Begin by locating the city of Chicago on a US map so students have a frame of reference for the lesson.
  • As a group, talk about how cities handle fires in today's day and age (talk about firemen, 911, etc.).
  • Explain that cities haven't always had the technology they have today and that fire stations weren't always as quick and effective.
  • Give each student a printed copy of the lesson.
  • Read through the lesson together, stopping occasionally to discuss:
    • Why was this called the Great Chicago Fire?
    • Rumors said that the fire started how?
    • Why did the fire get to be so out of control?
    • What were some of the effects of the fire?
    • Was the city able to overcome? How?
  • Review the ''Lesson Summary'' portion of the lesson carefully and answer any questions that students might still have.
  • Administer the quiz for assessment of learning.


Reinforce learning by guiding students through the following activity.

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