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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 Study.com, 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

Length

40 minutes, plus 40 minutes for activity

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.2

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

Instructions

  • 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?

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