The Civil War

This Civil War Unit integrates many different subjects--particularly music and the language arts. Throughout the entire unit, The Tamarack Tree by Patricia Clapp is read either as a read aloud or as a class, if it is feasible for each student to have a copy. What is taught in class is planned to coincide with what is read in the Tamarack Tree. This is one sample lesson plan about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad.


  1. The students will be able to define the Underground Railroad.
  2. The students will know the contributions of Harriet Tubman in the cause to end slavery.


  1. Follow the Drinking Gourd by Bernadine Connelly
  2. The Tamarack Tree by Patricia Clapp
  3. United States textbook (McGraw-Hill)
  4. Paper and pencil for the students


  1. I will explain to the students that we will be learning about the Underground Railroad. I will ask the students if they know what it is.
  2. We will read the paragraph about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad on page 207 of the textbook (or any other informative reading about Harriet Tubman.)
  3. We will discuss Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. Possible questions:
    • What is the Underground Railroad?
    • Why is Harriet Tubman famous?
    • What kind of dangers do you think existed for the slaves who tried to escape, as well as the people who helped them escape?
  4. We will read p. 96-108 of The Tamarack Tree
  5. We will listen to the CD that accompanies Follow the Drinking Gourd, learning the song "Follow the Drinking Gourd" as we listen.
  6. The students will pretend they are slaves who escaped north via the Underground Railroad with the help of Harriet Tubman. They will write their experiences in coming north in the form of a story or a journal entry. In their story, they must explain what the Underground Railroad is as well as who Harriet Tubman is. The students should consider these questions as they write:
    • What dangers did you encounter?
    • What did you eat?
    • How did Harriet Tubman help you? What is her background?
    • What were your feeling as you traveled on the Underground Railroad-fear, excitement, sadness, etc.?
  7. The students will share their stories with their cooperative learning groups.


In the story they write, do the students explain accurately what the Underground Railroad is? Do they know that Harriet Tubman was a former slave who dedicated herself to helping other slaves escape?


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