Transportation Revolution Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

The transportation revolution not only changed the way we get around, but altered the face of America. This lesson plan uses a video lesson to summarize key points. An activity highlights important facts about the modes of transportation that emerged at this point in history.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • discuss the factors that led to the transportation revolution in America
  • list and explain the various modes of transportation that emerged during this time
  • explain how the transportation revolution changed America


45 to 90 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.


Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.



  • Begin by writing the following term on the board for the class to see: 'Transportation'.
    • What is transportation?
    • What are some examples of transportation?
    • How different was transportation in the early years of our country?
  • Play the video lesson The Transportation Revolution: Turnpikes to Steamboats to Railroads for the class, pausing it at 1:01.
    • What was the transportation revolution?
    • What factors led up to the transportation revolution?
  • Play the video and pause it at 1:58.
    • What were the early turnpikes like?
    • Who built them?
    • How did they change transportation?
    • Why weren't the turnpikes a complete solution to the transportation issues that plagued the country?
  • Play the video lesson. Pause it at 4:39.
    • How did steamboats change transportation?
    • What changes were made to broaden the range of steamboats?
    • How did steamboats impact population and economic growth around the country?
  • Play the video lesson again for the class, pausing it this time at 6:49.
    • What prompted railroad expansion?
    • How did steam engine technology improve the rail system?
    • How did the rail system evolve in the face of financial turmoil in the country?
  • Play the remainder of the video lesson for the class.
    • What were the lasting effects of the transportation revolution?
  • Distribute the worksheet to each of the students in class.
  • Ask the students to work independently to complete the worksheet using what they learned about the transportation revolution from the video lesson.
  • When all students have completed the worksheet, review each question and answer with the class, allowing students to make any necessary corrections to their papers.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account