(Discoveries is a creative time for highly motivated and task committed students in grades 2-5 to be challenged to go a step higher in studying and researching topics.)


Cynthia Lawhon



Level:  4th Grade

Unit: Underground Railroad

Time:  7- 90 min. periods

Date:  Between September 4 and October 22, 2007



1.      To help children improve their thinking skills

2.      To provide insights into the process of critical and creative thinking

3.      To give students a sense of intellectual excitement when an idea snaps into place

4.      To give children a sense of belonging to a group that can work independently and in a group



1.      Students demonstrate competence in speaking and listening as tools for

                  learning and communicating

2.      Students locate, select, and synthesize information from a variety of texts, references, and technological sources to acquire and communicate knowledge

3.      Students interpret different kinds of maps, using a map key and distance scale

4.      Students interpret data presented in a timeline or construct a historical timeline

5.      Students compare and contrast primary and secondary sources.

6.      Students identify leaders and their influence in the early development of America



1.      Week One:  Read the book Harriet Tubman by Marie Patterson.  Discuss her in reference to the Underground Railroad and what it was.  Develop a vocabulary to be displayed for the entire unit.  Add words as needed.  Give a brief overview of the Underground Railroad.

2.      Week Two:  Review vocabulary words and Harriet Tubman.  Develop a timeline using the overhead projector.  Discuss the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793.  Place on timeline.  Place Harriet Tubman on timeline.  Continue adding to the timeline each week.

3.      Week Three:  Discuss the Underground Railroad in terms of where this took place.  Using the overhead projector, introduce a map from that period of time showing the routes used by slaves.  Relate the routes to the Louisiana territory after researching the Underground in Louisiana.  Create a salt map to show these routes.

4.      Week Four:  Introduce leaders of the Underground Railroad.  Assign a leader to each group of three or four.  Each group is to research the person using books, Internet, the library, etc. with emphasis on primary and secondary sources. A report is to be written and presented the next week.

5.      Week Five:  Groups will review their reports briefly and present to the class.  Dates will be added to the timeline.  Vocabulary words will be added to the Vocabulary list.  Presentations will be video taped.

6.      Week Six:  Discuss the travel conditions of passengers on the Underground Railroad.  How did they travel and when, what did they eat, drink, etc.    Read Henry “Box” Brown from Landmarks of the Underground Railroad (Course Book).  Make leather water pouches in groups and burlap bags for provisions.  Use cardboard to represent the wooden box using proper dimensions.  Act out this story.

7.      Week Seven:  Review the Henry “Box” Brown story and video record using props made. These videos and props will be presented to Mrs. Wolfe’s Art class to enhance their study of the Underground Railroad in Art.



1.      computers

2.      camcorder

3.      books

4.      leather

5.      burlap

6.      yarn

7.      needles

8.      scissors

9.      yardsticks

10.  pencils

11.  cardboard for salt map

12.  salt

13.  tempera paint/brushes

14.  overhead projector/markers



1.      US History

2.      Math

3.      Science

4.      Language Arts

5.      Art



1.      primary source

2.      secondary source

3.      abolitionist

4.      burlap

5.      conductor

6.      depot

7.      fugitive

8.      master

9.      overseer

10.  passengers

11.  plantation

12.  seceded

13.  slave hunters

14.  slave

15.  slave quarters

16.  stationmaster

17.  station

18.  terminal

19.  territory

20.  Underground Railroad



1.      Written reports and oral presentations given by groups on leaders and passengers of the Underground Railroad

2.      The salt map created by the students representing the routes taken in the Louisiana territory

3.      Burlap bags and leather drinking pouches made to help portray the acting out of the slave escapees

4.      Understanding of primary and secondary resources

5.      Understanding the timeline and this period of time in US History