New Deal Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

With this lesson plan from, along with a video lesson, you'll be ready to enrich your students' understanding of the events and consequences of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal.

Lesson Objectives

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

  • Identify the major programs of the New Deal.
  • Understand the role that government played in the New Deal.
  • Relate the issues of the New Deal to experiences of their own generation.


50 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.


Instruct students to take notes on the following while watching the video:

  1. Identify each of the three major categories of New Deal programs and list one program that complies with each. Include a brief description of the purpose of the three programs selected.
  2. Consider the role the government played in the New Deal. Be prepared to discuss.

Play the video Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, pausing it at the following points for discussion:

  • 2:24 - Why do you think making sure that farmers could stay in business was so important? How do you think things would have been different had farms not been stabilized?
  • 3:45 - Why do you think the government sought to encourage companies to comply with certain guidelines instead of just enforcing them? How do you think this could play out today with respect to organic food, minimum wages, and fair trade products?
  • 4:44 - How do you think these regulations compare to ideas like net neutrality today?

After the video, examine the three major categories New Deal programs. Have students discuss the programs they selected.

Talk about the cost of all this. Emphasize that the government was putting people to work, but at what cost. How was the government trying to get people back to work while not destroying businesses against which the government was competing?

Finally, consider the role the government played in the New Deal. Encourage students to share their notes.


Divide your class into groups and have each group pick a program from the New Deal to support. Tell them that they have to present why their program is the most beneficial to society and why the others should be disregarded. Allow time for brief presentations.


  • Ask students to compare some of the programs from the New Deal to those that followed the Great Recession (e.g. Cash for Clunkers, the bailouts of big banks). How were these similar? How were they different?
  • Identify a local landmark or connection to the New Deal. For example, many high school football stadiums were built by the WPA. Encourage students to make connections between their community and the New Deal.
  • Review with students other organizations created by the New Deal. These were often called 'Alphabet Soup' due to their acronyms. Have students quiz each other on which is made up and which actually existed.

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