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The Underground Railroad - Story and Activities

Take a journey to freedom with a great book and lesson ideas!

Featured Book:
Jip: His Story, by Katherine Paterson.

There are some ideals worth dying for. Freedom is one of these. United States history is full of examples when men and women, civilians and soldiers, gave their lives for their own and other's freedom. The Underground Railroad is one of the most powerful examples in our history of men and women breaking the chains of injustice and fighting for freedom at any cost.

This unit can fit into the larger study of the Civil War or it can be part of a thematic unit of the strugle for freedom. In this larger thematic unit should include the flight of Jews during the Holocaust and the continued immigration to the United States of men and women from all over the world seeking religious, political, and economic freedom.

Objectives
  1. Students will learn the role of the Underground Railroad in freeing slaves and helping to bring about the end of slavery in the United States.
  2. Students will read and responsd to the historical fiction and non-fiction concerning the Underground Railroad and slavery.
  3. Students will study the many men and women who risked their lives to help others during this era.
  4. Students will learn that the fight for freedom continues to this day. Freedom is a continuous stuggle for many people in our world today.


Jip is an orphan boy who lives on a "poor farm" in Vermont, in the 1850s. Jip practically runs the farm on behalf of the lazy manager and his wife. After building a cage for a newly arrived "lunatic" he befriends this unusal person. During the novel Jip searches for clues to who his family might be. Helping Jip to grow as a person is Lyddie Worthern, his teacher. A stranger arrives which leads to a revelation about Jip's past, and puts him in danger.

Topics For Conversation

  1. How Africans were first brought to the colonies as slaves.
  2. Abolitionists.
  3. The role of free Blacks and escaped slaves in the Underground Railroad.
  4. The role of Quakers in the Underground Railroad.
  5. Canada as the "Promised Land."
  6. Navigating at night by the North Star and the Big Dipper.
  7. Relate the journey to freedom of the American slaves to other freedom seekers in the past and present, such as Jews finding safe passage out of Germany during the Holocaust and those who risked their lives to help them. Also, immigrants who risk their lives to make it to the United States is a very real issue in our lives today.

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