Nora Garcia

Hamlin Middle School

Corpus Christi, Texas

July 2006




8th grade US History

Underground Railroad Activity




Objective: The students will be able to be interviewed (in FIRST person) and play the role of a person who lived during the era of the Underground Railroad.  Interviewees will be, but not solely limited to, travelers, assistants, abolitionists and slave catchers on the Underground Railroad. 

        Acceptable activities will include


                Hands on projects

                Songs and poetry



Materials: Prior knowledge of the Underground Railroad.  The students should have a concept of the series of events and the movement.  They will need to know about the political, social and religious circumstances during this time period.  Students may have already worked on and research individuals.


Sources to use:


* National Geographic website.  Use maps; take tour, decision making activities to help assess a better understanding of the events.


*Following the Drinking Gourd. (Children’s’ book narrated by Morgan Freeman.)  You can purchase video through Reading Rainbow.   Students can watch the video and discuss the circumstances and reason why someone would risk their lives to escape to freedom.   


*Before the research essay is to begin, the students will need to have a basis of background information about the topic.



Worksheet/ Class discussion:


·        Why was the UGRR organized?  For whom?      

·        What other means of escape could the slaves have planned?

·        During which time period are these events taking place?             


Who were the people/ communities involved in the UGRR.

·        Why was there such a need to have this system in operation?

·        Why was this network crucial for slaves?

·        What was the duration the of journey?

·        Describe some of the dangers they faced by going and by staying put.

·        How did they know which houses/ places were “SAFE”?

·        What might happen if a slave went to the wrong place?

·        By traveling on the UGRR, what were slaves hoping to find?

·        Those who assisted, risked what?

·        Why did they continue to help?


After the students have research and established an understanding and appreciation for the UGRR, they will individually take on the roll of a character.


Options for Assignments may include:


        Verbal interview ~ this will be facilitated by the teacher.  The teacher will ask runaway slave, slave catcher, potential UGRR traveler, and etc. questions.  The “actor” will need to have an established identity and a story to share.  This can be fictional or based on biographical information.  If fictional, circumstances and scenarios must be historically accurate.  The “actor” will take on the roll of a real person and speak in first person.  If they are a runaway slave, the students will have to detail and rationalize their reasons for wanting to escape by way of the UGRR. 


Extension of activity is to have an interaction between all the parties.  The students will be allowed to tell their stories and justify their point of view.   The class can be set up as slave, border or Free states.  Students may even want to dress in vintage or time period clothing.





Visual Project ~ the students may illustrate a map, draw the travel route of voyage, do a family portrait, draw what their plantation or farm may have looked like, construct a poster board with items that a typical slave may have eaten, seen, worked at.   Students could put together a family tree or scrapbook detailing first hand experiences and document their family’s history, celebrations and ordeals. 






Verbal Assignment~ Students may sing their Stories!!    They can incorporate personal stories and words into a modern day song or even a poem.  Teacher may include a list of mandatory words for them to use or students may take information from a research paper. 

Word Bank


Flee, escape, hardship, family,

Underground Railroad, safety, freedom, North star, transport