Freedom Train

Freedom Train lesson plan

Simulate the Underground Railroad and design dream homes for fictional former slaves.

  • 1.

    Read non-fiction and fiction books about slavery and the Underground Railroad in book groups, as read-alouds, and independently. Share information about life in slavery and methods used to communicate secret information about passage on the Underground Railroad.

  • 2.

    Use Crayola® Model Magic®, Crayola Multicultural and Regular Markers, and fabric scraps to model a small figure of a slave. Give the slave a name and identity.

  • 3.

    Make a small box into "slave quarters" with minimal furnishings of scrap cardboard, using Crayola School Glue and Crayola Scissors.

  • 4.

    One or two students label another box FREEDOM and place it in an inconspicuous area of the room.

  • 5.

    Write your slave's testimonial, including details about life in slavery found in your reading. Each day, write about your slave's desire to be free and escape. Write songs, letters, poems, and plans.

  • 6.

    Four students (chosen randomly by the teacher) become conductors on the Underground Railroad. They secretly free slaves over a period of 1 to 2 weeks. The first child secretly removes slaves from their quarters, then passes the figure along to the next ch

  • 7.

    Discuss how slave owners reacted to losing slaves. Make posters publicizing rewards for lost slaves.

  • 8.

    Finally reveal the Underground Railroad and return figures to children now as free citizens. Use a variety of craft and recycled materials, Crayola School Glue, and Crayola Scissors to build new homes. Write about new lives in freedom, including details


  • Students experience a simulation of the Underground Railroad viewed through the identity of a fictional slave they create.
  • Students write journal entries to show their understanding of the condition of slavery and the history and workings of the Underground Railroad system and its brave leaders including Harriet Tubman.
  • Students construct freedom homes from recycled materials; close adult supervision is required to ensure safety.


  • Create journals with recycled paper grocery bags with torn edges. Bind journals by sewing string through the binding. Keep journals hidden and secretly write in them throughout the school day to imagine what it was like for a slave to keep writing ability
  • Underground Railroad conductors keep a daily record of each slave's journey to freedom. When did each slave disappear and where were they hidden on their journeys? Were there any close calls? Share information with the class when the Underground Railroad