Hiddin’ Out


Jane Ensley




Holland Elementary School


Fort Wayne, IN


(Overall theme)

Habitats Encountered by Fugitive Slaves

Classroom sessions or estimated time

4-5 sessions(may vary on background children have on subject matter)

Grade Level(s)

Fourth Grade


*      To peak children’s interest in the Underground Railroad.

*      To inform them of different natural habitats and human habitats crossed by escaping slaves.

*      To make students aware of the difficulties and dangers experienced by escaping slaves.

*      To make students aware of different groups might assist them.

*Geography Standards Addressed

Spacial Terms #1

Places and Regions #4; #6

Physical Systems #8; #10; #12; #13

Environment and Society #15

Uses of Geography #17

*Indiana Social Studies Academic Standards addressed

Fourth Grade Indiana Standards

History  4.1.8.; 4.1.11; 4.1.12

Geography 4.3.2.; 4.3.3; 4.3.5;4.3.14

Individuals, Society, and Culture 4.1.5; 4.5.2; 4.5.3; 4.5.4; 4.5.5; 4.5.9


1.      Students will be able to list natural habitats encountered by fugitive slaves.

2.      Students will be able to list two human habitats encountered by fugitive.

3.      Student groups will compile lists of advantages and disadvantages of each habitat.

4.      Students will draw three major Underground Railroad routes crossing Indiana on an outline map and include habitats and towns

5.      Students will produce an oral history involving at least three natural habitats and one human habitat.


*Teacher Background Materials

Children’s Books

*      Bial, Raymond. The Underground Railroad. HoughtonMifflin, 1995.

*      Freedman, Florence B. (Florence Bernstein). Two Tickets to

      Freedom. Simon and Schuster, 1971

*      Lawrence, Jacob. Harriet and the Promised Land. Simon      and Schuster for Young Readers, 1993.

*      Levine, Ellen, and Williams, Richard. If You Traveled on the Underground Railroad. Scholastic, 1988.

*      Majors, Charles. The Bears of Blue River. MacMillan,1901

*      ---. Uncle Tom Andy Bill. Indiana University Press, 1993

*      Rappaport, Doreen. Freedom River. Hyperion Books for

     Children 2000.

*      Sanders, Scott Russell. A Place Called Freedom. Aladdin


*      Willis, Patricia. Danger Along the Ohio. Clarion,1997

Adult Books

*      Hanson, Ellen. The Underground Railroad. Discovery Enterprises, 1995.

*      Weaving a Network of Freedom: Proceedings of the Second Kentucky Underground Railroad Symposium. Education, Arts and Humanities Cabinet, 1999

Web Sites (current as 7-26-01)

*      http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/travel/underground/

*      http://www.nationalgeographic.com/features/99/railroad/j4.html

*      http://www.statelib.lib.in.us/WWW/ihb/terrain.html

*      http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/travel/underground/



*Purpose of Materials


A tape recorder, VCR camera, or computer programs which allow audio taping are required. Three maps of Indiana 1. An outline map. 2. A map of free Black settlements in Indiana  3. A topographical map of Indiana. (see previous box for web link) Pictures of habitats found in Indiana. (Examples: forests, rivers, wetlands/swamps, caves)

Pictures of animals found in Indiana during the 1800’s.


1.      Before the lesson on overview of the Underground Railroad should take place. (This could be accomplished by using the Indiana History text book) Some background about natural habitats is needed.

2.      With the entire class create a list of natural and human habitats slaves might encounter while journeying north through Indiana. (Examples would be deciduous forests, swamps/wetlands, rivers, caves, meadows, Free Black settlements, white settlements

3.      Break the class down into groups of 3 or 4 with each group listing advantages and disadvantages of different habitats for the slaves.(An example for caves would be advantages-would be dry; comfortable temperature; well-hidden—disadvantages-would be…caves may harbor dangerous animals, may be known hiding places checked by local people, could fill up with water.)

4.      Have each group share their discussion results, and asked the class if they can add any advantages and/or disadvantages.

5.      Display a physical map of Indiana on an overhead or computer projection. Point out places where different habitats will occur in Indiana.

6.      Overlay a map of Underground Railroad Routes through Indiana over the physical map and discuss what slaves might encounter on different route.


*Teaching Strategies

Whole group instruction; Small group collaboration;

Interdisciplinary instruction in social studies, science, and language arts

*Assessments (key questions to simulate critical thinking)

1.Create an oral history a slave might tell an interviewer. The history must cover a minimum of 10 days and nights trip experience. The oral history must have a minimum of three different habitats and one human habitat. Happenings in each habitat can be advantageous and/or the opposite and should be appropriate for that environment.

2. Given an outline map of Indiana draw in the three major Underground Railroad routes crossing Indiana. Use symbols and labels for various surroundings. Example: a tree=deciduous forest; grass=wetlands,

Label at least one Black settlement and/or White settlements you might encounter on each route if appropriate.

Follow up questions:

1.      Why didn’t every fugitive slave reach Canada?

2.      How long do you think a journey took to complete?  A week? A month? A year? Etc.

3.      What advantages/ disadvantages would slaves have escaping in summer? In winter?

4.      Today, many illegal immigrants journey from Mexico and other Central American countries. How is their journey similar to that of the escaping slaves? How is it different?


Adaptations and/or Extensions

*      Produce a “Choose Your Own Adventure” activity using a computer programs such as Flash, PowerPoint, Dream Weaver.

*      Produce an Excel spreadsheet survey of the most and least valuable habitats slave could encounter.

*      Take a trip to a wooded area, wetlands, etc. looking for appropriate hiding areas.