Denise Leschak

4th Grade



The purpose of this lesson is to introduce the issue of slavery to fourth grade students.  The lesson will introduce students to the personal experience of a slave and help them make a personal connection to this experience.  From there it will explore the motivations and dangers of running away for a slave.  Through this exploration, students will learn that some slaves were not alone.  There were different people who may have helped them in their quest for freedom.  This will lead into the fifth grade lesson on the different groups of people who disagreed with slavery.  Fourth graders will get to listen to the fifth grade persuasive point of views.


Learning Goals:

  1. Use a primary source to learn about conditions of slavery.
  2. Use the Internet to learn about the difficulties of running to freedom for a slave.
  3. Discuss and present an escape story to the class.
  4. Use the Internet to begin to learn about people who helped slaves escape—the different components of the Underground Railroad.


  1. Ask and discuss with students the following questions:


  1. Read to students section titled “Slaves on the Auction Block”, pp. 7-11.  (Or a similar slavery experience.)
  2. Ask and discuss with students the following questions:



  1. Students use the following web site to “take a trip” on the Underground Railroad.  Depending on your needs, this site can be used teacher led, whole group using a digital projector; small group, using a computer center; or independently in a computer lab.
  2. Questions to discuss during or after “The Journey:”

o        What can happen if you break the law?  What could happen to your family?

o        Would it be easy to walk to Coventry Mall (or other local landmark)?  2 miles away.  King of Prussia Mall? 23 miles away.  250 miles is mentioned in “The Journey.”  Show distance on map. 

  1. Share the following escape story(stories) with students:

o   Henry “Box” Brown: , PP. 59-62

o   Recollections of Slavery by a Runaway Slave.  A slave narrative serialized in The Emancipator in 1838.  The Emancipator, August 23, 1838.  From the Advocate of Freedom.  RECOLLECTIONS OF SLAVERY.  BY A RUNAWAY SLAVE.


  1. In a guided reading group, have students read one of the following escape stories.  Lead students in a discussion of the story.

o        Sheridan Ford:

o        Linda Brent (AKA Harriet Jacobs):

  1. Each group will share their slave story with the rest of the class.




1.     Tell students that in our study, we have learned that some slaves had help escaping. 

2.    Help students to recall names and/or roles of helpers they have learned about.

3.    Listen to fifth grade persuasive paragraphs.  Discuss.