Child Labor Today and Yesterday

A Unit Plan by Debbie Martin


Table of Contents:

Overview and Rational

Teacher Background Information

Unit Planning Chart

Organization and Subject Matter

Goals and Objectives

Learning Activities Bank





Overview and Rationale

My unit theme is child labor today and yesterday.This topic first interested me in elementary school when I learned about child labor in the United States during the Industrial Revolution.I remember finding it hard to believe that a nation as great as ours would place children in danger.I felt sad for the children that had to suffer, but I was also relieved that our government eventually created laws to protect children; however, I later learned that the United States cannot protect children through out the world and that child labor continues to be a global issue.

I not only chose this topic for my unit because Iím interested in it, but I also realized that I could create a unit on child labor that followed my Social Studies philosophy. One of my first beliefs is that teachers should connect the past with the present.†† I believe this can be accomplished in my unit plan because I will teach my students about child labor in the United States and also child labor today around the world.

Secondly I believe students should be actively engaged in learning. In this unit plan I offer several hands on activities including a labor strike, town meeting, book in a day, and a discussion about international organizations against child labor. This will give students a chance to not only understand the issue of child labor, but they will also find a way to solve it.

My final social studies belief is that social studies should be meaningful to the children.I think that child labor is a topic that every student will be able to relate to for several reasons First it involves children their age from the past.Children are automatically curious about what children from the past were like so I think that they will be interested in knowing the working conditions for children during the Industrial Revolution. Secondly the rules passed on child labor affect children today. They will be grateful to learn that they do not have to work because of things that happened in the past.And finally child labor continues to be a problem around the world today. I think children are always interested about what other children around the world are like. I think thatthey would beshocked to learn about child labor in the world today.

Besides following my social studies philosophy this unit also addresses several national standards.I focused on the followingfour standards during this unit.

1.Show how groups and institutions work to meet individual needs and promote the common good.†† In the unit I will be discussing how different people worked together to end child labor.Standard V g

2. Explore the role of technology in communications, transportation, information processing, weapons development or other areas as it contributes to our helps resolve conflicts.During this unit we will learn about how technology development during the industrial revolution added to the problem of child labor. Standard VI g

3. Identify examples of rights and responsibilities of citizens.Students will be learning about childrenís rights today and laws that were created to protect children. They will also understand the responsibilities of other citizens to protect these rights. Standard X b.

4. Explore causes, consequences, and possible solutions to persistent contemporary and emerging global issues such as pollution and endangered species.Students will be learning about child labor around the world and how it is being solved. Standard IX d.

This unit will also coincide with the Utah State Standard 7 for fifth grade which states that students will analyze the contributions of individuals, groups, and movements in the United States from 1900 to the present.This standard will be addressed as students learn about child labor in the United States and the world.

In conclusion the history of child labor has always interested me.I discovered that I could build a unit plan around this idea that would follow my social studies philosophy and national and state standards.


Teacher Background


Child labor has always been part of American history.The Puritans believed that it was a virtue to be industrious and idleness was a sin.Children were taught to work at a young age.The early poor laws believed pauper children were condoned to work to help support their family income

††††††††††† The Industrial Revolution; however, had one of the greatest impacts on child labor.It moved children from the farm to the city.The nationís economy was expanding and factories, mines, and mills needed plenty of cheap labor.Child labor was considered a necessity to further the material greatness of America and became less and less a question of moral principle.During the Industrial Revolution children as young as six worked long hours for little or not pay normally 12-14 hours.They worked in unsafe conditions surrounded by large, heavy and dangerous equipment.Some states had child labor laws, but they were often not enforced.

It was not until 1912 that the United State Childrenís Bureau, a government agency, was charged with investigating working conditions and mobilizing public opinion against child labor.The reformers fought for a national child labor law that would apply equally to all American children.Congress finally passed a law like this in 1916, but in 1918 the Supreme Court believed they were ďunconstitutional because they infringed on states rights and denied children the freedom to work.Ē

Child labor only began to fade away during the great depression of 1938 when adults were competing for jobs normally held by children. In that same year President Franklin Roosevelt passed the Fair Labor Standards for all workers and put limitations on child labor.Children under sixteen could not longer work in manufacturing and mining.By 1949 these laws were improved.Childrenís work hours were limited and they could not work during school hours.Today although child labor has been eliminated in the US, it continues to be a problem throughout the world.


Unit Planning Chart



  • Discuss why coal miners were affected by the black lung. What causes it and what effects does it have on the body?
  • Explain what cancer is.

Read aloud

  • Read to children a book about child labor.
  • Read children the first chapter of Lyddie before you begin a book in a day project.


        Listen to songs about children working. Discuss if it is a type of child labor or not.

        Listen to the song from the movie Newsies ďCarrying the BannerĒ and discuss what it was like trying to sell newspapers on the streets.

Oral language


  • Have students participate in a Readerís Theater on the Industrial Revolution. (See attachment)
  • Have students create a role play about the day in the life of a child laborer.



Written Language


  • Write a poem about working in the Mills or the coal mines.
  • Write a book review on the book Lyddie.


  • Do a weaving project to represent weaving done in the factory.
  • Create a picture using coal.
  • Draw a picture of what they think the inside of a factory looked like.


  • Compare the cost of living today and todayís wages with those during the Industrial Revolution.
  • Create a budget for a family living during the Industrial Revolution with the incomes of the parents and the children. Include expenses such as housing, food, and clothing.

Physical Movement

  • Have students imagine what is would be like to work in the mine have them pretend to crawl through the shafts and gather coal.
  • Have students pretend they are threading a large machine at the mill.


  • Show students websites about different international child labor organizations.
  • Show students pictures of children working from the Lewis Hine webpage.



Organization and Subject Matter Overview


The content will be organized in two ways. First it will be organized chronologically. It will follow child labor from the past to the present. Secondly the unit plan is organized problem to solution.The problem of child labor is first addressed and then students find a way to solve it. This unit begins by students learning what child labor is.It then follows the history of child labor in America and its solution. And finally we discuss child labor in the world today. Most of the activities in this unit are done in groups so the classroom will need to be organized so that students can work in a group.



Week 1:What is Child Labor?


Day 1


What is child labor?


Difference and similarities:

This unit will begins with students discussingthe differences and similarities between pictures of children working during the Industrial Revolution and children playing today.


KWL chart: I will begin a KWL chart to assess what children already know about child labor and also what they want to learn.


Reflective Journals: I will show students how to create a reflective journal which they will be using throughout the unit.This will resemble a portfolio.The journal will be used for quickwrites, diagrams, notes, vocabulary, and reflections.This journal will not only be a tool for assessment, but students will also use it as a reference as they complete activities in this unit.




Day 2


Child labor quiz:

Together as a class students will take a quiz to test their knowledge about what they think they know about child labor. After taking the quiz together as a class we will discuss what is considered child labor. Students take notes in their reflective journal about what child labor is and isnít. They will also reflect about how child labor laws affect their lives today.






Day 3


Todayís laws on child labor:

Students will be presented with todayís laws on child labor. They will discuss as a group what they like about the laws today and what they would like to change.Students will write a thank you letter to Congress or a proposal to change the laws on child labor in their reflective journals.



Day 4


Reasons for child labor:

Divide students into groups. Pass out strips of paper to each group with reasons why child labor happened in the United States. Students will discuss with their groups why these reasons had an affect on child labor. Students will then rank the reasons according to the impact they had on child labor.†† Thenthey will discuss as a whole group and come to a consensus about what they believe had the greatest impact on child labor.

Items written on strips of paper:

        Early poor laws wanted to prevent children from becoming public charge.

        Puritans believed in the virtue of industry and the sin of idleness.

        Spinning schools and houses of industry were created to provide employment of children.

        It was considered shameful for children to spend their time in the streets.

        The Great Law of Province, Pennsylvania provided that all children of the age of twelve years shall be taught some useful trade or skill.

        Child labor was a national asset that furthered the material greatness of America.

        Linen manufactories believed employment for the poor would lessen the burden of caring for them.

        Poor children could assist their parents in getting a livelihood.

        Laws that provided a low minimum of school were not enforced.


Day 5


Industrial Revolution and its effects on child labor:

Have students read about the Industrial Revolution using reciprocal reading. Create a chart with students about what the Industrial Revolution was and why it caused child labor.Have students copy this chart in their reflective journals.


What is the Industrial Revolution?

Why did it cause child labor?





Week 2:Child Labor in the United States


Day 6


What was it like?

Have pictures representing groups of children working during the Industrial Revolution.Students will choose a picture and write a story about it in their reflective journal and then share their stories with the class.


Day 7


Book in a day

Student will read the book Lyddie, a historical fiction, in a day.They will understand what it was like for a child laborer.


Day 8


Occupations held by children

Students will research other occupations held by children using picture books and other sources.They will collect enough data to understand and present what it was like for those children to work in their jobs.


Day 9


I am From Poem

Students will write an ď I am FromĒ poem based on the occupation they have researched.Then share the poem with the class.



Week 3: Solving Child Labor


Day 10

Labor union mock trial

Begin this lesson by sharing the story of the Lowell Mill girls going on strike. Tell students that they will have a chance to make demands to their boss about changing working conditions. Students will be using information from their research on different child labor occupations and information they have on child labor laws today to create their demands.With each demand students will write why they believe the demand should be met and how.


Day 11

Labor union mock trial

The students will present their demands and rationales to the teacher.The teacher will act as the factory owner and choose whether she/he will request or deny the demands.After the activity the teacher will discuss why it was so hard to end child labor and the control the factory owner had over the children.In studentís reflective journal they will write one thing they learned and how they felt about the trial.


Day 12

Town meeting

Divide students into small groups. Each group of students will receive information about one of the different types of people involved in the child labor movement such as doctors, parents, national child labor committee, Lewis Hine, and factory owners. The groups will read about their character or group and their opinions on child labor.Students will then prepare an argument to present to the class either for or against child labor.Students can send one or two people from their group to be a diplomat to talk to members of other groups and gather information that will further strengthen their argument. This activity would be similar to the activity in class involving Native Americans being removed from their land


Day 13

Town meeting

Students will hold a town meeting.Before the meeting begins the teacher and students will create rules the class must follow during the meeting.Each group will present their information and debate over the issue of child labor.Students will come to a consensus about what to do about child labor in their town.



Day 14

How it was resolved

Student and teacher will discuss different ways child labor came to an end in the United States.Students will write a short What if paper in their reflective journal about what life would be like in the United States if child labor was not eliminated.Students and teacher will add to KWL chart and fill out new information students have learned.

Week 4:Child Labor Around the World


Day 15


Child labor around the world will be introduced.†† Divide students in groups and give each group a current newspaper article.Have students research the country that is mentioned in the article and write reasons this country may have problems with child labor.


Day 16

Continue to research and share with the class.



Day 17

Compare child labor in the United States during the Industrial Revolution and child labor around the world today.Have students create a Venn Diagram with their groups to place in their reflective journal.

††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††

††††††††††††††††† Child labor in the US††††† Child Labor around the world

















Day 18

Organizations helping to end child labor:

Introduce students to international organization working to end child labor by walking them through a website of an organization.Discuss what the organization is doing to help end child labor based on the information from the website.Give each group a different organization that is helping end child labor. The information can be printed off from each organizations website.Have the groups read the packet of information about the organization they should find out how the organization was founded, what they hope to accomplish, and what they are currently doing to end child labor.


Day 19

Ending child labor

Student will write an advertisement convincing other students to join their organization. They will share these with the class.


Day 20

Students will use all their information from the entire unit to create a proposal to the world about the rights for all children. Student will reflect on the unit and complete the KWL chart



Goals and Objectives


There are several goals in this unit that will be accomplished that follow state and national standards. The first national standard addressed in this unit is Standard Vg.Show how groups and institutions work to meet individual needs and promote the common good. This standard will be met as students discuss different groups and individuals that worked to abolish child labor in a town meeting.†† Students will also be discussing different international organizations that are working to eliminate child labor around the world.

††††††††††† The second national standard addressed is Standard V g2.Explore the role of technology in communications, transportation, information processing, weapons development or other areas as it contributes to our helps resolve conflicts.During this unit we will read about how technology development during the Industrial Revolution added to the problem of child labor. Students will understand how although technology is a positive thing it can also have negative effects.

††††††††††† The third standard addressed is Standard X b.Explore causes, consequences, and possible solutions to persistent contemporary and emerging global issues such as pollution and endangered species.Students will be learning about child labor around the world.In groups that will read articles about different countries that have problems with child labor andthey will also learn about different organizations that are helping to end child labor.

††††††††††† Finally the most important standard discussed in this unit is Standard VI gIdentify examples of rights and responsibilities of citizens.Students will be learning about childrenís rights today and how they received those rights in the United States.Students will also understand first hand how difficult it is to earn rights by participating in a labor strike and town meeting activities.



Learning Bank Activities


Lesson 1


Title of lesson: Introduction to Child Labor

Teacher: Miss Martin

Date: October 16, 2003

Time Allotted: 1 hour

Grade Level: 5

Number of Learners: 25-30 divided in to groups of 4-6 students


Unit Theme: Child labor today and yesterday

Standards met: see below

Goal: The students will be able to identify examples of rights and responsibilities of citizens. Standard VI g


Objectives:Given pictures of child laborers during the Industrial Revolution and pictures of children today, students will organize the pictures according to differences and similarities to understand the changes of childrenís responsibilities from the Industrial Revolution to today.



Materials needed:

Pictures of children during the Industrial Revolution about 8 for each group

Pictures from magazines of children today playing about 8 for each group

6 manila envelopes

Chart paper and marker

Reflective journals for all students

Construction paper

Overhead of daily response sheet



In preparation for the lesson the teacher should create packets for each group of students. This activity works best for groups of 4-6 students. So for a class of 30 I would create about 5 to 7 packets.Each packet contains pictures of children during the Industrial Revolution and also pictures of children today.There should be about 20 pictures in each packet. I found pictures of children from the Industrial revolution in the book ďakjd;oifjeoĒ These same pictures can also be found on the internet type in Lewis Hine and you should find several websites that contain his photos. I collected pictures of children today from magazines and the internet. After I found the photos I made copies for each packet and then glued them on cardstock. This way the photos will not be destroyed.Then put the photos in a manila envelope and wrote the words top secret across the top. I also created a letter to read to the students. This makes the activity more realistic.

Before this lesson the teacher should also create a KWL chart onpaper that will be used during the entire unit. Reflective Journals should also be ready made for students.I have included the guide to making a reflective journal at the end of this lesson plan.



To begin this lesson there will be large unopened manila envelopes on each groupís table with the words Top Secret written across the top.Explain to the class that they have just received top secret information that they must analyze.Along with the manila envelopes that were sent to the school earlier this morning, there was a letter with specific instructions to follow. Read students the letter attached below.After the letter is read clarify any questions students may have about their assignment. Then set a timer and have students open the packets and start.




  1. Have students open the packets. Walk around the room and watch them sort the pictures.
  2. Ask students what they notice are the same in all the pictures and what is different about these photos.
  3. After students have had time to sort the pictures discuss as a whole class what they noticed about the photos.What was the main difference among them? Direct student to noticing that some of the pictures were of children working while others were of children playing.
  4. Tell them that the black and white photos are pictures of children working during the early part of the 1900ís and the colored pictures are of children today.
  5. Have students put the pictures back in the packet and gather students on the rug around the KWL chart you created earlier.
  6. Tell students that over the next few weeks they will be discussing child labor.
  7. Ask students what they already know about the topic.Write studentís responses on the paper.
  8. Then ask students what they would like to know about the topic or about the children in the black and white pictures.Write studentís questions on the chart.
  9. Tell them that throughout this unit you believe that many of their questions will be answered. Have students return to their seats.
  10. Tell students that they will be compiling the information from this unit in a reflective journal.Show students an example of a journal.
  11. Walk students through the different sections and how to use them.Pass out a journal to each student.
  12. Have them turn to the section daily response.
  13. Reproduce this section on an overhead.Model how to fill this sheet out with the students.
  14. Begin by filling out the date. Then ask students what they learned today and write their response under the sectionWhat I learned.
  15. Ask students what their reaction to the lesson was. How did it make them feel? Write their response in the section How I felt.
  16. Finally ask students if there was anything about the lesson that was still unclear.Write their questions in the section Questions I still have
  17. Invite students to fill out their own response sheet about what they remember from the lesson.



If I knew a child was going to struggle with the activity, I would give them a peer tutor to work with during the group activity



For closure students have a chance to share with their class or groups what they wrote in their reflective journal.



I will read their reflective journals and listen as we discuss what they found was similar and different in the pictures.



Ask students to look for pictures of children working or playingtoday and bring them to class to share


Lesson 2


Title of Lesson: Child labor Quiz

Teacher Miss Martin

Date October 17, 2003

Time Alloted 45 min

Grade Level 5

Number of learners 25-30


Unit theme: Child Labor Today and Yesterday

Standards met: (see below)

Goals: The learners will be able to identify examples of rights and responsibilities of citizens Standard VI g


Objectives: Given a quiz on child labor and information about what child labor is the learner will identify the difference between situations of child labor and normal activities for children to understand what the rights of children in the United States are.



Child Labor Quiz

Construction paper




1. Construct three signs. Each should have one of the following written on them 1. Child labor 2. Not child labor 3. Not sure

2. Create a chart on the board like the one below


Child Labor

Not child labor

Not sure























































3. Create a second chart like the one below



What is child labor?

What isnít child labor?





1. Begin by asking students about different jobs they do around the house.Write students responses on the board.

2. Tell students how much you hated doing chores when you were little especially the dishes.Tell them that you used to believe that this was against the law because it was child labor.

3.Ask students if they think it should be illegal to do chores. Why or why not?




1. Tell students that today they will be learning about what is considered to be child labor.You have a few scenarios that you will be reading to them and they need to determine if they are examples of child labor or not.

2. Explain that around the room you have posted signs. The first sign says child labor. The second sign says not child labor and the third sign says Iím not sure.

3. Tell students that after you read the scenario they will stand next to the sign that they believe this scenario represents.

4. Ask students to repeat back the instructions to you and take any questions for clarification.

5. Read the first scenario. Then invite students to move from their seats to the sign they believe the scenario is.

6. Use the chart that you created before the lesson to record the number of students that are standing underneath each sign.

7. Read the next scenario. Then invite students to move underneath the sign they believe the new scenario represents.

8. Repeat step 7 until all the scenarios have been read. Then have students move back to their seats.

9. Discuss the chart with the students to see if they came to a consensus or if they were confused about what is considered child labor.

10. Read the scenarios again and give students the correct answers.

11. Use your second chart that you create before the lesson and ask students based on the quiz what do they think child labor is. Write their responses on the chart.

12.Next ask students what they believe child labor isnít. Record their responses on the other half of the chart paper.

13.Add anything the students forgot to mention. Make sure they cover all the ideas listed on the What is child labor quiz sheet under the headings What is child labor and what isnít child labor.

14. Have students copy the chart in their reflective journals and also fill out their daily response sheet.



I offered the option of Iím not sure when students have to decide ifeach scenario is child labor or not. This way they do not have to be embarrassed if they donít know the answer.If a student struggled with writing I would copy the chart we created in class and give it to them the next day in class.



Have students answer the question addressed at the beginning of class. Are doing chores at your house against the law? Based on information in the lesson students should be able to answer the question.



There are several ways I assessed this lesson. First I created a chart with students about what child labor is and isnít. If students understood the lesson they will be able to fill out this chart.Secondly students were given time to write in their reflective journals. I would read these after class to get an idea what students learned and what questions they still had.



Students go home and do chores for their parents without complaining because this is not child labor.

Lesson 3


Title of Lesson: Book in a day Lyddie

Teacher Miss Martin

Date October 18, 2003

Time Allotted: the entire school day

Grade level 5

Number of learners 25-30


Unit Theme Child labor today and yesterday

Standards met : see below

Goal: The learners will be able to identify examples of rights and responsibilities of citizens Standard VI g



Objective: Given the book Lyddie the learners will create a chart about the chapters they read to share the book with the class and understand what life was like for a child laborer.


Materials needed

Classroom set of the book Lyddie

Butcher or chart paper






Begin by introducing the book Lyddie to the class.This book is about a young girl who had to leave her home to go work at the mill.Show students the cover of the book and read the back of the book .Tell students that they will have an opportunity to read the whole book in one day without actually having to read all the chapters.



  1. Tell students that you are going to begin the book by reading the first chapter aloud to them.Gather students on the rug and read the first chapter.
  2. After you have read the first chapter ask students to go back to their seats.
  3. Divide the class into five groups and then divide the chapters into five sections.Assign each group a section to read.
  4. Tell students that they will be given time to read their section and that they should take notes about what happens in their chapters so that they will be able to share what they read with the rest of the class.
  5. Give students time to read their chapters.
  6. When all the groups have finished have them discuss with their groups what they thought the main events of the story were.Students should compare their notes with other members of their group. Then as a group make a list of all the main events.
  7. After the group has identified the main events, give them a piece of chart paper and tell them that they should write and draw pictures on the chart paper about the events in their chapters
  8. Give students time to complete their chart.
  9. After all the charts have been completed,have students present their charts in order from the first chapters read to the last.
  10. After students have listened to each groupsí presentation, it will feel as if they read the whole book in a day
  11. Display the charts around the room in order.



I would divide the sections up unevenly and give struggling reader the smallest section so that they would be able to finish the assignment.I would also consider partner reading if the student needed it



End with discussing why the book was related to the topic of child labor and what students thought about child labor after reading this book.Ask students how the problem was solved in the story.


Assessment: Based on the information on the chart the teacher will be able to know that the students read and understood their chapters.During our discussion about child labor and the book I will listen to see if students understand how the book was related to the topic.



Have students write in their reflective journals about what they liked about the story and how it made them feel.


Teacher Reflection


Lesson 4


Title of lesson: Town Meeting on Child labor

Teacher: Miss Martin

Date: October 18, 2003

Time Allotted: 45 mins

Grade Level 5

Number of Learners 25-30


Unit theme: child labor today and yesterday

Standards met

Goal: Show how groups and institutions work to meet individual needs and promote the common good. (Standard Vg.)Identify examples of rights and responsibilities of citizens. (Standard VI g)


Objectives: Given information about different groups and individuals concerned with child labor students will create an argument for or against child labor in order to understand the how groups and individuals work together to solve a problem.


Materials Needed:

Lewis Hine Pictures

Information sheet for factory owners, reformers, parents, national child labor committee, doctors.



Tell students that after hearing about all the horrible stories of child labor you have decided to call a town meeting to discuss the issue.Tell them that everyone from the town is invited to attend and present an argument for or against child labor and together you will decide if you want to stop child labor in your town. Tell students that they will each be assigned to be a member of the town and that they will be presented with information about the character they are assigned to. With the information they should create arguments to present to the class that will convince students to think the way they do.



  1. After explaining the activity divide the students into five groups. Tell students that they should follow the directions on the papers they are given.Present each group with information about their town member. Have students read and discuss with their group the information presented.
  2. Walk around the room and observe students working with their groups. Answer any questions that arise and encourage students to develop their arguments.
  3. After each group has had time to discuss and create their argument, tell students that they may select two diplomats to travel to other groups.The diplomats can ask other groups what they think about child labor and also present their own arguments.
  4. Once the diplomats have traveled to other groups they can report their finding to their own groups
  5. The group can decide to change or add to their arguments based on their findings.Tell students that they should now be ready to present to the class tomorrow.
  6. Give students a chance to write in their response journals about information they have learned.




Students will be working with groups. This will help everyone be involved.The group can decide who they want to present their information to the class so that students who are uncomfortable with this will not have to.



End by asking students if the information has changed their opinion about child labor.


Assessment: I will go around to each group and listen to their argument and see if they understand why their group is for or against child labor.


Extension: Have students write in their reflective journals about something new they learned about child labor.


Teacher Reflection.




Prior to:

I will gather information prior to my unit plan by creating a KWL chart with the students. This will help me assess what they all ready know about the topic and also what they are curious about.




I thought the best way to assess during this unit would be through a reflective journal. The journal would be similar to a portfolio; however, all the assignments would be kept in one notebook instead of in a folder. The reflective journal would be used throughout the unit to take notes, write vocabulary words, and write different assignments in.Students would also be required to write one journal entry each day that included one thing they learned, how they felt, and questions they have.The teacher should read the journal entries each day and address questions student may still have.By reading the journals the teacher will also understand what children thought was most important in the lesson. Besides writing daily journal entries students will also complete assignment that will be compiled in their journal. These assignments will be used to help the teacher assess their knowledge on child labor through different parts of the unit. Here is a list of assignments in this unit that students will be completing to test their knowledge on child labor.

1.†† Letter to Congress. Student will write a letter to Congress either thanking them for creating child labor laws or writing a proposal to change the laws on child labor.This assessment will be after the lesson on Child Labor Laws today in the United States. By completing this assignment the teacher will be able to see if the children understand the laws.

2. What if. Students will write about what their life would be like if child labor had not been eliminated.This will be written after the lesson on child labor laws today to assess students understanding of the importance of these laws.

3. I am from poem.This assignment is completed after students have researched an occupation held by children during the Industrial Revolution.It will assess studentís knowledge about the difficulties of the childrenís occupation and if they understand what life was like for the child laborer.

4.Create an advertisement. This assignment will be completed after students learn about different organizations that are working to end child labor.Students will draw an advertisement that will convince others to join their organization. The advertisement should reflect their understanding about the different organizationsí purpose and accomplishments for ending child labor.


The reflective journal will be the main tool for assessment; however, students will also be helping the teacher create charts.†† The charts will be used to see if students understood the lesson. There will be a chart that is included after the lesson plan on the Industrial Revolution.This chart will include information about what the Industrial Revolution was and why it caused child labor.The student will fill out the chart with the teacher.The KWL chart will also be used throughout this unit. After the students and teacher have created the KW part of the chart they will refer back to the chart to fill out information about what they have learned about child labor.


The final type of assessment will be the teacher continually watching and listening to students as the engage in learning. The teacher should keep a record of things that confuse students during the unit and things that she/he believes students have learned



The final project students will be working on to assess their understanding of the whole unit is to write the Rights of all Children.Students will use their knowledge from the unit to write why they believe children should have rights and what they should be.






Freedman, R. (1998). Kids at Work : Lewis Hine and the Crusade Against Child Labor. New York: Clarion Books.

Levstik, L. & Barton, K. (2001).Doing History: Investigating with children in the elementary and middle schools (2nd ed.) Manwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Paterson, K (1991).Lyddie. New York: Puffin Books.






Letter for Lesson 1




Inside these top secret packets are photographs they must be analyzed.Your mission if you choose to accept it is to find all the differences and similarities among these pictures. You are to sort the photographs into as many different groups as possible. You will be given 15 minutes after this letter has been read. If you have any questions ask Agent Martin. She will be able to assist you in your efforts.


Yours Truly,

Agent 757


Guide to making a reflective journal


The journal should include three sections: daily response, assignments, and notes.The daily response section includes copies of the daily response sheet. The assignment and notes section should include lots of lined paper for different activities students will be doing throughout the unit.The front and back cover is construction paper and the whole booklet is stapled together.



Town meeting information


Factory Owners


You are a factory owner during the Industrial Revolution.You realize that you need children to work in your factories because of their cheap labor.At the town meeting you will speak out for child labor. Here is a list of items that you believe promote the idea of child labor.Discuss them with other factory owners in your group and create arguments that will convince others to be for child labor.

  • Child labor is good for the economy.It is a national asset that is furthering the material greatness of America.Child labor will help reduce poverty in American by producing cheap consumer goods.
  • It is building the childrenís character. It stops them from being lazy.
  • Many of our workers are orphans and have no where else to go.We give them food, shelter, and clothing.
  • The children with parents work for wages.They do not work under any conditions that their parents find unacceptable.
  • The workerís houses are near the factory so that the children can walk to work and have time to play in the evenings.
  • Child labor adds very little to our profit margin so it is mainly considered a charity to children of desperate parents or no parents at all.
  • The labor conditions are not excessive.
  • At the Lowell Massachusetts Mill young girls are boarded, put in a controlled environment, and offered church and schooling.It is actually improving many of the lives of these girls.
  • At the Ashworth mill Mr. Thomas Ashton limits the work hour of children in his factories, established a school for them, and provided homes to children and their parents who worked at his factory.
  • The wages of a farm worker are low and because of new inventions and machines there are fewer jobs. We offer work to thousands.

National Child Labor Committee

You are part of the National Child Labor Committee.The National Child Labor Committee was organized by concerned citizens and politicians and endorsed by Congress in 1907. The mission of the National Child Labor Committee is to promote the rights, awareness, dignity, well-being and education of children and youth as related to work and working.From 1908 to 1912 one of your members, Lewis Hine, documented numerous gross violations of laws protecting young children.At many locations he visited the children. They were quickly rushed out of his sight.He was told by many of the factory owners that the children at the mill or factory had just stopped by to visit or help their mothers.You believe that many of his photos should be presented to the town as evidence against child labor.Discuss with other members Lewis Hineís photographs describe what is happening in the photographs and why it proves child labor is wrong.





You are a parent of a child laborer. You were almost forced to approve of it because you needed the income. When the Industrial Revolution hit, the demand for labor was high that you quickly moved your family from the rural areas to the newly industrialize cities to find work.Once you got there things did not look as bright as you hoped.Just to survive in even the lowest level of poverty, you had to send every able member of your family to work.You even exaggerated the age of your youngest child so they could work.


Although you can not afford to see child labor disappear, you would like working conditions to be improved in the factories. Your children work long hard hours for little or no pay, sometimes up to 19 hours a day. You know the treatment of children in the factory is often cruel and unusual and safety is generally neglected. They are around large, heavy, and dangerous equipment and many accidents have injured and even killed children on the job. Your children receive only a fraction of what an adult gets and sometimes the factory owners get away with paying them nothing. Orphans are subject to slave- like labor.Discuss with other parents in your group how you would like to change working conditions.



††††††††††† You are one of the doctors for the town and have seen the effects child labor has had on the children. You would like to see it come to an end because you fear that many childrenís lives are in danger.In textile factories you observed that many children have lost limbs or been killed by factory machinery.In a visit to the mill you noted that all workers especially children were prone to sickness.You also noticed that night labor and long hours at the factory were injurious to the workers.They were more susceptible to disease and also in constant danger of being injured or killed by machinery.While investigating the effect of child labor you also discovered that cotton workers suffered from the inhalation of fine dust particles produced during the processing of cotton.You were especially concerned with children working in the cotton factories.Included below is a documentation of a recent interview you had with a reporter about the conditions of children in the cotton factories.

Question: Give the committee information on your knowledge of the health of workers in cotton-factories.

Answer: I have had frequent opportunities of seeing people coming out from the factories and occasionally attending as patients. Last summer I visited three cotton factories with Dr. Clough of
Preston and Mr. Barker of Manchester and we could not remain ten minutes in the factory without gasping for breath. How it is possible for those who are doomed to remain there twelve or fifteen hours to endure it? If we take into account the heated temperature of the air, and the contamination of the air, it is a matter of astonishment to my mind, how the work people can bear the confinement for so great a length of time.

Question: What was your opinion of the relative state of health between cotton-factory children and children in other employments?

Answer: The state of the health of the cotton-factory children is much worse than that of children employed in other manufactories

Question: Have you any further information to give to the committee?

Answer: Cotton factories are highly unfavorable, both to the health and morals of those employed in them. They are really nurseries of disease and vice.

Question: Have you observed that children in the factories have particular accidents?

Answer: When I was a surgeon in the infirmary, accidents were very often admitted to the infirmary, through the children's hands and arms having being caught in the machinery; in many instances the muscles, and the skin is stripped down to the bone, and in some instances a finger or two might be lost. Last summer I visited
Lever Street School. The number of children at that time in the school, who were employed in factories, was 106. The number of children who had received injuries from the machinery amounted to very nearly one half. There were forty-seven injured in this way.