Underground Railroad


The lesson introduces students to the Underground Railroad, used to help slaves escape from the South to freedom.  Most students may not know about the Underground Railroad, but they have heard of the Civil War and slavery.  Students can learn about a slave’s life on their journey using the Underground Railroad.  The lesson may be used in conjunction with a lesson related to Harriet Tubman, the Civil War, and slavery.  It is recommended students view one or more of the additional resources videos.

Underground Railroad Lesson Plan Includes:

  • Full Teacher Guidelines with Creative Teaching Ideas
  • Instructional Content Pages about the Underground Railroad
  • Answer Keys
  • Common Core State Standards
  • Many Additional Links and Resources
  • Built for Grades 4-6 but can be adapted for other grade levels.

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Introduce your students to an important and inspiring part of United States history with this lesson all about the Underground Railroad.  Combined with lessons related to Harriet Tubman, the Civil War, and slavery, students will gain an understanding of this tragic yet hopeful era of American history.  Throughout this lesson, students will learn about slaves’ lives on their journey along the Underground Railroad, including the fear they felt during their flight, and the bravery and kindness of the men and women who helped them along their way.  Additional resources included with this lesson, particularly the videos, will be useful to help your students understand the material.

Sample Classroom Procedure / Teacher Instruction: 

  1. What kind of railroad has no trains or no tracks, but still transports people from place to place?
  2. Allow for responses and discussion. If students guess correctly, the Underground Railroad, ask students to share some details they may already know about it.  If not, ask additional questions to give hints, such as what war was between the North and South, etc.
  3. Allow for further responses and discussion. Introduce the Underground Railroad.
  4. Distribute Underground Railroad content pages. Read and review the information with the students.  Save the final question for the lesson closing.  Use the additional resources to enhance understanding.
  5. Distribute Activity page. Read and review the instructions.  Place students in groups of 4.  Each student will play a part in the conversation, if less than 4, a student may have 2 parts.  Students may create the conversation used between the helpers on the Underground Railroad, but may improvise as well.  Tell students to think of it as an audio or radio skit or play – no physical action involved.
  6. Once students complete the conversation notes, each group will present or “perform” the conversations for the class.
  7. Distribute Practice page. Check and review the students’ responses.
  8. Distribute the Homework page. The next day, check and review the students’ responses.
  9. In closing, ask students: Do you believe places in the world still need a system of moving people from place to place without being detected? Why or why not?
  10. Allow for responses and discussion.

Common Core State Standards:



Class Sessions (45 minutes): at least 2 class sessions

Additional Resources: 

Many more teaching resources in Download!

Want more social studies resources? Check out our other Social Studies Lesson Plans!

Additional information

Grade Level

4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade


Social Studies

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LaTonia R.

Black History

The website is full of information. Students really enjoyed the passage.