Moon Over Manifest Historical Connections

This Storyboard That activity is part of the lesson plans for Moon Over Manifest


Moon over Manifest Historical Connections

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Activity Overview


Moon Over Manifest contains rich historical detail, spanning two decades of history through its parallel stories. A good way to enhance students’ reading experiences is to supplement the novel with historical background information. Students can then use storyboards to make connections between the novel and historical accounts. Suggested historical topics include the Great Depression, the home-front during WWI, and the immigrant experience in America.

The sample storyboard above shows text connections with the history of the Great Depression. Have students create a T-Chart storyboard to present historical facts on one side and Moon Over Manifest on the other. Historical facts can be presented in the form of photos, direct quotations from primary documents, or summarized research. To connect to the novel, students should use the storyboard graphics to depict a scene from the story that addresses the same historical topic.


Moon Over Manifest Historical Connections

American HistoryMoon Over Manifest
Little FoodDuring the Great Depression, many Americans struggled to get enough to eat. Children often had to work long days just to earn enough money to survive. Soup kitchens cropped up across the country. Lines for bread and other food handouts could stretch for blocks. Abilene and her friends are constantly hungry. Most days, Abilene gets pork and beans to eat, but she is happy to eat anything, including frog legs! Abilene, Lettie, and Ruthanne eagerly accept any food that is offered to them by others.
MigrantsAmericans migrated far and wide during the Great Depression. When they couldn't make a living where they were, they packed up and moved to a new region. Some people moved every few months when the seasonal jobs changed. Others joined the thousands of hobos who had no home at all and slept in forests, boxcars, and kind strangers' homes. Abilene and Gideon are migrants. They move from town to down, jumping off the next train in search of a new place to find work and something to eat. Abilene has never known a real home until she comes to Manifest.
ProhibitionFrom 1920-1933, the United States federal government enforced prohibition, which meant that citizens could not buy or sell alcohol. Some individual states passed laws that extended prohibition even longer. In Kansas, the sale and manufacture of alcohol was prohibited from 1881-1948. To get around the law, Americans made alcohol in illegal stills and sold it in secret bars, called speakeasies. When Abilene meets him in 1936, Shady runs a speakeasy from his home/church. Miss Sadie reveals that even in 1917, Shady was making his own alcohol and selling it illegally. When Jinx suggests that the townspeople make an alcoholic elixir to raise money, they fake the Spanish Flu in order to keep the sheriff out of town.
HopelessnessThe Great Depression lasted so long that many Americans began to lose hope. Lack of jobs and opportunity left many desperate just to survive the week. Dreams of a better future came crashing down. A sense of hopelessness pervades Manifest when Abilene arrives. Even the welcome sign seems to suggest that hope is lost. Although it used to read "Manifest: a town with a rich past and a bright future," the words "and a bright future" have been shot through with bullets.


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Template and Class Instructions

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Student Instructions

  1. Use the template provided by your teacher.
  2. In one column, identify historical facts about the time period.
  3. In the other column, identify how those facts appear in the story.
  4. Illustrate the examples with appropriate characters, scenes, and items.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.
T-Chart 3 Rows

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