Lesson Plan

Journey on the Underground Railroad

This lesson combines historical facts and creative writing to engage students in exercises that enhance both vocabulary and social studies knowledge.
Download lesson plan
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Vocabulary in Context pre-lesson.
View aligned standards
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Vocabulary in Context pre-lesson.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will be able to use terminology related to the Underground Railroad correctly in context.
The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments


(5 minutes)
Underground Railroad MapThe Underground Railroad
  • Ask students if they have any knowledge of the Underground Railroad.
  • Explain that the Underground Railroad was actually neither underground nor a railroad. It was a term used to describe the secret way that slaves escaped from slavery with the help of many people.
  • Ask students, "Have you ever used or made up a secret code before?" Have some students share their experiences.
  • Tell students that the Underground Railroad also had something like a secret code. To keep the Underground Railroad hidden from slave owners, special terms were used so slaves could talk about escaping on the Underground Railroad without slave owners knowing what they were talking about.
  • Tell students that today, they will be learning some of the special language used to describe different aspects of the Underground Railroad.


  • Provide student-friendly definitions for the following terms: "slavery," "secret code," "underground," "railroad," and "escaping."


  • Show images related to the Underground Railroad to give more context and background knowledge to the ELs.