The First Railroads

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The lesson introduces students to early railroads and the Transcontinental Railroad.  Young children are usually interested and intrigued by trains.  In some parts of the country, seeing a train may be rare, so it is important for students to see how this early form of transportation brought the people of the United States closer together.  The lesson could also be used as a geography lesson related to the locations of the states.

The First Railroads Lesson Plan Includes:

  • Full Teacher Guidelines with Creative Teaching Ideas
  • Instructional Content Pages about The First Railroads
  • Hands-on homework activities
  • Answer Keys
  • Common Core State Standards
  • Many Additional Links and Resources
  • Built for Grades 5-6 but can be adapted for other grade levels.

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Description

Engage your students natural curiosity about trains with a lesson that introduces them to early railroadsas well as the Transcontinental Railroad.  In some parts of the country, seeing a train may be rare, so it is important for students to see how this early form of transportation brought the people of the United States closer together.  The lesson covers railroad tracks, steam locomotives, the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads, and mentions President Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Pacific Railroad Law.  The lesson could also be used as a geography lesson related to the locations of the states.

Sample Classroom Procedure / Teacher Instruction: 

  1. Open the lesson playing some train sounds from this site: http://www.soundjay.com/train-sound-effect.html
  2. Ask students if they recognize any of the sounds.
  3. Allow for responses and discussion.
  4. Ask: Have you ever taken a ride on a train or have seen a train close-up?  What was it like?
  5. Allow for responses and discussion. Introduce railroads.
  6. Distribute The First Railroads content pages. Read and review the information with the students.  Use the additional resources to enhance understanding.
  7. Distribute Activity pages. Read and review the instructions.  Distribute the U.S. maps showing the cities and states.  You may also include a listing of cities across the country with important landmarks as suggestions for students to visit.
  8. In addition, with the class, point out and label the connecting point of the Transcontinental Railroad. Once all students have completed the activity, allow students to share some of the responses about the cities they would like to visit.
  9. Distribute Practice page. Check and review the students’ responses.
  10. Distribute the Homework page. The next day, check and review the students’ responses.  Allow student volunteers to share responses related to train experiences of another person, or what they think it would be like to travel on a train.

Common Core State Standards:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.1.7, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.2.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.2.7, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.7

Class Sessions (45 minutes): At least 2 class sessions.

Additional Resources: 

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Additional information

Grade Level

5th Grade, 6th Grade

Subject

Social Studies