Learning About Slavery


by Heath Stahle



Background Information

Lesson Plan


 Background Information


The African Slave Trade started in the 1400’s when Portuguese sailors kidnapped and/or traded for African villagers, which would be transported around the world and sold as slaves. This turned out to be a very lucrative business for the Europeans, so the transportation of Africans by Europeans lasted late into the 19th century. The majority of slaves were captured along the western coast of Africa, with some slave trading taking place along the northern and southern coasts as well.

Africa natives were taken away from their villages by people called slave traders. These traders forced the captured slaves to march to the coast were they waited in slave camps until a ship came which would take them away from their homeland. Slave ships were filled over capacity and the slaves were made to endure long journeys under unbelievably horrible conditions. Just as it is unknown exactly how many Africans were taken into slavery, it is also unknown how many of these people died on the march to the coast and on the voyage in the slave ships. It is almost certain though that the numbers for both of these categories are well into the millions.

Additional information is included in the Author’s Note section of the book Now Let Me Fly: The Story of a Slave Family, by Delores Johnson.



Lesson Plan


Learning About Slavery


Author: Heath Stahle

Grade Level: Early Elementary


  1. Students will be able to locate on a map the places in Africa where the majority of slaves came from.
  2. Students will be able to express their own personal thoughts and feelings about slavery.

Materials Needed:

  • Book- Now Let Me Fly: The Story of a Slave Family, by Dolores Johnson

    Large map of the world (that can be written on with dry erase markers)

    Dry erase markers

    Photocopied map of Africa

  • Procedures:

    1. Read the author’s note section from the book Now Let Me Fly: The Story of a Slave Family to the class and discuss the information in this section about when slavery started, where slaves were taken from in Africa, and how many people were taken as slaves from Africa.
    2. Using a large map of the world, have the class find Africa and with a dry erase marker outline or shade in places Africa where slaves were taken from.
    3. Read the remainder of the book to the class.
    4. Ask students to share how they feel about slavery and how they would have felt if they were in the position of the characters in the book. Write down students’ answers on a board for everyone to see. Discuss any unfamiliar words from the book with the class. Examples of some of these words are: plantation, heritage, oppression, savanna, and blacksmith.
    5. Give students a photocopied map of Africa (check for usable maps). First, have students color in places on the map where slaves came from. Then, on the same paper, have students write down their thoughts and feelings about slavery. Students can write short sentences or list words that they feel are related to slavery.
    6. Give students a chance to share what they have written.


    1. Observation of students as they work on coloring the parts of their Africa maps where slaves came from and the things they write down that express their personal thoughts and feelings about slavery will assess whether or not the lesson's objectives have been met.


    Return to the Africa Table of Contents