By: Tara Webb

Slavery and the Underground Railroad

Fourth Grade


1. SWBAT trace the routes of slaves on a map and calculate how far each one traveled.

2. SWBAT make a list of the terrains, seasons, and circumstances the slaves experienced.


1. Maps with routes of the slaves and mileage scale.

2. Follow the Drinking Gourd by Jeanette Winter (1998)


1. Divide the students into groups and ask "What is an Underground Railroad? The students will discuss it among their groups.

The groups will share their ideas and teacher will put the most dominant ones on the board. Now is the time to explain that it is not an actual railroad.

2. Definition of Underground Railroad: many routes that lead, as directly as possible, from slave holding states of the southern United States to the closest free territory. After 1850, escaping slaves had to go all the way to Canada and that often meant weeks sometimes months of walking.

3. Hand out copies of the slave's routes to each of the students. Each group will choose a different route to study. The groups will figure out how many miles their escapees had to travel in order to get to safety.

4. Each group will share their route with the class. Terrain, seasons, and circumstances will be considered and shared. Each of the groups will take notes and compare to what they have discovered.


1. Have the students write an essay about the escape route that they followed from the map.

2. Have the students draw a picture of the Underground Railroad and have it include the three characteristics that were determined.