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Flight to Freedom: The Story of the Underground Railroad

<i>by Henrietta Buckmaster</i>

Lesson Plans by Elizabeth Pedro

Find these Common Core aligned lesson plans and more like them in our Elementary School Category!

Flight to Freedom: The Underground Railroad

Student Activities for Underground Railroad Include:

Flight to Freedom: The Story of the Underground Railroad is a nonfiction text that projects the history of the Underground Railroad and the risks both blacks and whites made to reach abolition.


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Underground Railroad Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Visual Vocabulary

The Underground Railroad - Vocabulary
The Underground Railroad - Vocabulary

Example

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In this activity, students demonstrate their understanding of several words using a spider map vocabulary board. After choosing the word(s), students provide the part of speech, definition, an example from the text, and demonstrate their understanding of the word(s) through an illustration in the related storyboard cell.


Example Vocabulary Words from Flight to Freedom

  • abolition
  • plantation
  • fugitive
  • abductions
  • refugee
  • underground

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Student Instructions

Demonstrate your understanding of the vocabulary words in Flight to Freedom by creating visualizations.


  1. Choose three vocabulary words from the story and type them in the title boxes.
  2. Find the definition in a print or online dictionary.
  3. Write a sentence that uses the vocabulary word.
  4. Illustrate the meaning of the word in the cell using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.
    • Alternatively, use Photos for Class to show the meaning of the words with the search bar.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.



Vocabulary Template Blank
Vocabulary Template Blank

Example

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(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Text Evidence

The Underground Railroad - Text Evidence
The Underground Railroad - Text Evidence

Example

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Provide students with a question or prompt to answer with a storyboard using text evidence.


The example prompt is, "What sacrifices did people make in order to make the Underground Railroad a success?"

Possible answers to the prompt include:


  • Runaways traveled through dangerous terrain in the middle of the night.

  • People who helped runaways were fined.

  • Agents had a ruse to avoid suspicion.

  • Farms were seized by the government.


Other prompts might include: "What risks were slaves willing to make to reach the North?" and "How did the Underground Railroad influence people and the future of the United States?"

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment to Account", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that answers the prompt using at least three examples from Flight to Freedom. Click on "Add Cells" to change the number of examples.


  1. Type the question into the central black box.
  2. Think about examples from the text that support your answer.
  3. Type text evidence in the description boxes. Paraphrase or quote directly from the text.
  4. Illustrate each example using scenes, characters, items, etc.


Text Evidence 3 Cell Spider
Text Evidence 3 Cell Spider

Example

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Integrate Informational Texts

The Underground Railroad - Integrate Texts
The Underground Railroad - Integrate Texts

Example

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In this activity, students will integrate what they have read in Flight to Freedom and the article, "Slavery, the Civil War & Reconstruction - The Underground Railroad". These texts discuss the Underground Railroad, the secrecy, and the system that helped slaves escape to the North.

Have students record and illustrate information from each article in a T-Chart. Side-by-side cells should relate to one another. An example storyboard is below.


Flight to Freedom: The Story of the Underground Railroad

  • Men and women followed codes: agents were reminded their work was illegal, nothing was ever put in writing, and all evidence was destroyed.

  • The physical property was a line of farms running zigzag from the slaves states to Canada.

  • If any traveler was unable to make it to the next station, the agent would hide them in caves.

"Slavery, the Civil War & Reconstruction - The Underground Railroad"

  • People thought slavery was immoral and they took risks to help slaves.

  • Each house told the fugitive where the next station would be.

  • Slaves traveled by night; the North Star was their guide to freedom.



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Informational Text Structure

Text Structure - The Underground Railroad
Text Structure - The Underground Railroad

Example

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Understanding text structure can improve students’ comprehension of the text. Examples of informational text structures include compare/contrast, chronological, cause/effect, and problem/solution. In this activity, students will identify the cause and effect relationships in the text.


Example 1

  • Cause: "Drastic laws made the Road illegal in the north."

  • Effect: Agents put "God’s law" above the law of the land; they believed in "universal freedom for mankind" so they created "stations" in an abandoned barns.

Example 2

  • Cause: The second Fugitive Slave law was passed in 1850.

  • Effect: The District of Columbia alone complained that in this period the number of its slaves had been reduced from 4694 to 640 by "underground railroads and felonious abductions."

Example 3

  • Cause: "Unaccustomed to making their own way, unused to the rigors of northern climate, many of them met poverty and disease."

  • Effect: "The Canadians, however, did much to help them; they were willing to absorb the fugitives into their national life, to share their work, and to give them aid in establishing farms."


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Flight to Freedom: The Story of the Underground Railroad Summary

The Underground Railroad maintained such high secrecy that little evidence can be found. The Underground Railroad was a secret line of farms leading from the slaves states to Canada. These "stations" were organized by hundreds of men and women, (both black and white) who did not believe in slavery. Slaves were provided food, clothing, and a place to rest during daylight. The "conductors" of the railroad were daring and resourceful; they often had to participate in a ruse in order to avoid suspicion from slave owners.

For free slaves, life was difficult; they experienced poverty and faced the harsh cold and sickness. As the number of slaves diminished, additional laws were made and rewards were posted. Even during the war, the Underground Railroad continued and later revealed itself as the Aid Commission to begin rehabilitation for runaway slaves.


Discussion Questions for Flight to Freedom

  1. What was the Underground Railroad?
  2. Are the men and women who participated in the Underground Railroad considered heroes? Why or why not?
  3. How did farmers and other common people change slavery laws?

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•   (English) Underground Railroad   •   (Español) Ferrocarril Subterráneo   •   (Français) Chemin de fer Souterrain   •   (Deutsch) Untergrundbahn   •   (Italiana) Ferrovia Sotterranea   •   (Nederlands) Underground Railroad   •   (Português) Estrada de Ferro Subterrânea   •   (עברית) מסילת רכבת תת קרקעית   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) السكة الحديد تحت الأرض   •   (हिन्दी) भूमिगत रेलमार्ग   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Подземная Железная Дорога   •   (Dansk) Underground Railroad   •   (Svenska) Underjordisk Järnväg   •   (Suomi) Underground Railroad   •   (Norsk) Underground Railroad   •   (Türkçe) Yeraltı Demiryolları   •   (Polski) Podziemna Kolej   •   (Româna) Cale Ferată Subterană   •   (Ceština) Podzemní Dráha   •   (Slovenský) Podzemná Železnica   •   (Magyar) Földalatti Vasút   •   (Hrvatski) Podzemna Željeznica   •   (български) Подземен Железопътен Транспорт   •   (Lietuvos) Požeminis Geležinkelis   •   (Slovenščina) Underground Railroad   •   (Latvijas) Underground Railroad   •   (eesti) Underground Railroad