Underground Railroad 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 materials from, you can help your students learn about the Underground Railroad. After the text lesson, let students create their own board game that takes them on a journey along the Underground Railroad.

Lesson Objectives

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

  • describe the role of the Underground Railroad in helping slaves achieve freedom
  • analyze the role of the Underground Railroad on both Northern and Southern politics


40 minutes, plus 40 minutes for 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 Vocabulary

  • Civil War
  • Abolitionists
  • Fugitive Slave Act of 1850
  • Fugitive Slave Act of 1793


  • Start this lesson by reviewing the landscape of early 19th-century America with your class. Remind them that many Southerners owned slaves, while many Northerners were against slavery.
  • Next, have students watch the lesson What Was the Underground Railroad? - History, Facts & Route.
  • After completing the video, discuss these questions:
    • Why was it so important that secrecy was maintained concerning the Underground Railroad?
    • Why do you think that common railroad words and phrases were used as codewords?
    • Why do you think that quilt patterns were so useful as ways of communicating?
    • In what ways was the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 worse on escaped slaves and their helpers than the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793?

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