Activity Overview

Starting a unit or lesson with the key terms aids in overall comprehension and retention. In this activity, students will create a storyboard that defines and illustrates key terms related to Canadian History. It is helpful for students to preview vocabulary and important terms when studying history to help give them context.

Examples of Terms related to Canadian History

Black Loyalists: After the American War for Independence (American Revolution), about 300 Black Loyalists immigrated to Canada and settled in Nova Scotia.

Upper Canada: Upper Canada was the term for the region that is today called Ontario. It was created in 1791 by the division of the old Province of Quebec into Lower Canada in the east and Upper Canada in the west. Upper Canada was settled by many Loyalists and farmers immigrating from the United States.

Lower Canada: Lower Canada was a British colony from 1791 to 1840 where modern day Quebec is located. In 1791, Britain divided the Province of Quebec into Upper Canada and Lower Canada.

War of 1812: The War of 1812 was between the British and the United States partially caused by British restrictions on U.S. trade and the United States efforts to expand its territory. The Americans attempted to invade Canada but failed.

49th Parallel: The 49th Parallel is the longitudinal line that is used as the border between much of the United States and Canada since 1818.

Abolition: Refers to the abolition of the institution of slavery which was abolished in Britain in 1834. Abolition in Upper Canada was initiated by John Graves Simcoe in 1793.

Slavery Abolition Act: "An Act for the Abolition of Slavery throughout the British Colonies; for promoting the Industry of the manumitted slaves; and for compensating the Persons hitherto entitled to the Service of such Slaves received Royal Assent on 28 August 1833 and took effect 1 August 1834". The Act abolished slavery in most British colonies, freeing over 800,000 enslaved Africans in the Caribbean, South Africa, and Canada.

Underground Railroad: Thousands of enslaved people escaped and endured perilous journeys to freedom in Canada where slavery had been abolished in 1834. The route to freedom marked by allies who secretly provided food, lodging and directions was called the Underground Railroad.

Rebellions of 1837-1838: In 1837 and 1838, rebels in Upper and Lower Canada led rebellions against the British Crown. The revolt in Lower Canada was more serious and violent than the rebellion in Upper Canada and both events resulted in the creation of the Durham Report.

Durham Report: In 1838, British politician Lord Durham went to British North America to investigate the rebellions of 1837–38 in Upper and Lower Canada. The resulting Durham Report on the Affairs of British North America in 1839 led to a series of changes such as the Act of Union: uniting Upper and Lower Canada into a single colony, the Province of Canada, in 1841, as well as steps towards the development of democracy in Canada.

Act of Union: The Act of Union formally united Upper and Lower Canada into a single colony, the Province of Canada, in 1841

American Civil War: The American Civil War occurred between 1861–1865 and was fought between the northern (Union) states and the southern (Confederate) states. The southern Confederate states had seceded from the United States in 1860–61 primarily to create a nation that would uphold the institution of slavery. Despite an official stance of neutrality, about 40,000 Canadians joined the fight.

Dominion: The term Dominion was used by the British to describe their colonies or territorial possessions. It was used for centuries before the word was formally applied to the new nation of Canada in 1867.

North-West Mounted Police: The North-West Mounted Police were established in 1873 and are called the Royal Canadian Mounted Police today. They provide law enforcement at the federal level.

Gold Rush: Gold rushes refer to the influx of prospectors in the mid to late 1800s hoping to get rich from gold found in territories primarily on North America's West Coast from California to Alaska, and in Canadian territories like the Fraser River, Cariboo Mountains, and Klondike River. They influenced the settlement of what is now called British Columbia and Yukon territory by white people, as well as resource exploitation, displacement, and marginalization of many of the Indigenous communities in the region.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Due Date:

Objective: Create a storyboard that defines and illustrates key terminology relating to Canadian history..

Student Instructions:

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. In the title boxes, identify the terms you have chosen.
  3. In the description boxes, write the definition or description of the term.
  4. Create an illustration for each term using appropriate scenes, characters, and items.

Requirements: Must have 3 terms, correct definitions or descriptions, and appropriate illustrations for each that demonstrate your understanding of the words.

Lesson Plan Reference

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/L/9-10/3] Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening
  • [ELA-Literacy/L/9-10/4] Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grades 9-10 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies
  • [ELA-Literacy/L/9-10/6] Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Define and illustrate each of the key terms.
7 Points
4 Points
1 Points
The vocabulary words are correctly defined.
The meaning of the vocabulary words can be understood but it is somewhat unclear.
The vocabulary word is not clearly defined
The storyboard illustrations clearly depict the meaning of the vocabulary words.
The illustrations relate to the meaning of the vocabulary words but it they are difficult to understand.
The illustrations do not clearly relate to the meaning of the vocabulary words.
Evidence of Effort
Work is well written and carefully thought out.
Work shows some evidence of effort.
Work shows little evidence of any effort.

More Storyboard That Activities

Canadian History 1784-1896

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