Simulated Underground Railroad Experience – Part B
(Culminating activity of a three week unit)

By Kim Markley (in collaboration with Sandy Frasch – part A)
Williamsport Elementary
July 24, 2001

National Geography Standards:
1- spatial terms, 6 – places and regions, 17 – uses of geography

Indiana State Social Studies Standards:
4.1.12 – The Civil War era
4.3.2 – world in spatial terms
4.3.4 – places and regions

Teacher Background Materials:
Douglas, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas. Boston: Published at the Anti-Slavery office, 1845

Howell, Donna Wyant.  I Was a Slave (series of books by the same author) American Legacy Books
Book 1: Descriptions of Plantation Life.  1995
Book 5: The Lives of Slave Children.  1998
Book 6: Slave Auctions.  1999

McGovern, Ann. “Wanted Dead or Alive” The True Story of Harriet Tubman. (Original title: Runaway Slave) New York:  Scholastic, 1965

Winter, Jeanette.  Follow the Drinking Gourd. New York:  Dragonfly Books, 1998

Purpose of Materials:
Computer Program:  Riding to Freedom on the Underground Railroad. “Our Indiana Heritage Staff”, Kokomo Center Township.  (Interactive simulation)

Web Site:    (makes crossword puzzle)

Videos:  Follow the Drinking Gourd. Rabbit Ears, 1992  (30 min.)  Harriet Tubman. Nest Entertainment, 1996. (30 min.)

Additional Equipment/ Materials:  Wooden box - 2½ ft.  x  3 ft. x 2 ft. 8 in. (for use at the Henry Box Brown activity)
Barrel – approx. 40 gallon. (for use at the barrel activity)
Harriet Tubman booklet – see attachment #1
Video Response form (to be used while watching the videos) – see attachment #2
Henry Box Brown story – see attachment #3
2 computers in the classroom
Brown paper sacks – to be torn into letter size pieces
Pencils, scissors, stapler, crayons

After completing the Underground Railroad obstacle course in part A, students “arrive” at Cabin Creek (a black settlement in southern Indiana) where they will rotate through a series of activity stations to further enhance their knowledge and Underground Railroad experience. There are 6 stations. (Each station is manned by a fifth grade student who has been through the activities the previous year.) A description of each activity follows.

Henry “Box” Brown Station: Students listen to the oral reading of the Henry “Box” Brown story (see attachment #3). They then take turns getting into the box to experience the cramped quarters he endured during his shipment north.

Video Station: Students will watch one of the two videos (both if time permits). They will use the video response form (attachment 2) to help them focus on the information presented. This is used as an assessment component (all questions have been thoughtfully responded to).

Computer Station: (2 activities) At one computer, students use the interactive program. At the other, they will create a crossword puzzle using Underground Railroad terms and definitions. Guidelines for the puzzle are located at this station as it is an assessment piece (definition of terms).

Barrel Station: Students get in a barrel to experience the conditions slaves endured while traveling north.

Booklet Station: Students will cut, color, and assemble a booklet about Harriet Tubman (see attachment #1). This also is used as an assessment (following directions, sequencing, illustrations are representative of text).

Letter Writing Station: This activity is the last one the students do. They will use a piece of the brown paper sack to write a letter to family and friends they left behind.  They are to write about the emotions they experienced as they traveled through the obstacle course, what it feels like to reach a place of freedom and also, how it feels to have left behind their loved ones knowing they may never see them again. This is an assessment for writing a friendly letter (parts of a letter, proper locations of the various parts, complete sentences, punctuation, capital letters, etc.)

See computer station, video station, and letter writing station under the procedure category.

Adaptations and/or Extensions:
1.Once the students have reached Cabin Creek they need to continue their travels to Canada. Using an outline map, students would label the location of Cabin Creek, the Ohio
and Wabash River, Levi Coffin’s home, Second Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, Detroit River, Sandwich Baptist Church in Windsor, Canada. The map should also include a compass rose and Indiana’s neighboring states. Students will use atlases to estimate the mileage between each of the locations.  They will take the maps to the gym to be used in their physical education class (part A, adaptations and extensions). The completed map would be an assessment.
2.  Journal Writing – Students will respond to the following question in their writing journals.
How would you feel about people that had enslaved your ancestors?

Second Baptist Church of Detroit.  Abbreviated History by Nathaniel Leach.  441-461 Monroe Ave., Detroit, Michigan, 48226.

Levi Coffin House State Historic Site.  An Underground Railroad Station.  Lesson Plan for Grades K-12.  113 US 27 North, Fountain City, IN., 47341.

Coffin, Levi.  Reminiscences of Levi Coffin.  Cincinnati: Western Tract Society, 1876.


Government Publication:
U.S. Department of the Interior.  National Park Service Handbook.  Underground Railroad.  Washington, D.C.