Learn about…slavery and abolition in America using this lesson pack and acclaimed board game “Freedom the Underground Railroad”.
This is the first in a new series of classes from Online G3 that will pair tabletop games with in-depth, explorations of topics introduced in other Online G3 classes. This particular class is intended to supplement the discussion of slavery in America in our A History of US, History Through Movies, and Advanced U.S. History courses.
For a high-level overview of these classes, see this video.
Participants will need to own or acquire a copy of the “Freedom the Underground Railroad” core game. No expansions are required.
Before signing up for this course, parents should obtain a copy of “Freedom the Underground Railroad” from a local game store or purchase online. Two online options are linked below:
- Rainbow Resource: Link
- Amazon (includes expansion card back, not required for the class): https://amzn.to/3cR9aZy
Freedom can be played solo but is best enjoyed with 2-4 players.
This lesson pack includes tutorial and instructional videos for young learners on playing Freedom the Underground Railroad. Once young learners are comfortable with the game and content, they will have several main topics to explore in whatever order they would like. Like all Online G3 history courses, this lesson pack will provide ample opportunities for young learners to learn and deploy critical thinking skills and primary source analysis.
Main Topics and Explorations:
- The Origins of the Institution of Slavery in the United States
- Readings and videos on the Atlantic Slave Trade and the first enslaved peoples at Jamestown.
- Slavery Entrenches in the U.S.
- Readings and videos on slave ships and life on plantations, including primary sources.
- An exploration and forum discussion on the Amistad Supreme Court Case.
- The Abolition Movement
- Video and written introductions to key figures in the abolition movement, many of whom appear in “Freedom the Underground Railroad”, including primary source readings.
- An exploration of Cartes de Visite and an opportunity to create one for an abolitionist figure of the student’s choice.
- A forum debate using the Underground Railroad as a basis, asking students to consider when it might be justified to defy the law.
- Opponents of Abolition
- Explorations of the legal basis of slavery in America, including primary source perspectives.
- A discussion comparing the public perspectives for and against slavery using primary sources (William Lloyd Garrison v. John C. Calhoun).
- An exploration and analysis of the economics of slavery focusing on primary sources (James Henry Hammond v. Abraham Lincoln).
- The Underground Railroad
- Videos and primary source readings focusing on some of the key figures connected to the Underground Railroad.
- An activity beginning with the game board that empowers students to deeply research a path that an escapee from slavery might take from the plantation to Canada.
- An exploration and discussion of the life of Harriet Tubman based on primary source letters.
- An exploration and discussion of the Underground Railroad based on Frederick Douglass’ thoughts.
- The Slave Narrative in American History
- An initial exploration of what students have gathered about the lives of slaves from previous activities or other classes.
- An analysis of what we can learn about the lives of slaves through close readings of slave narratives.
- An analysis and discussion of the slave narrative as literature.
- An analysis and discussion of the role that slave narratives played in the abolition movement.
- Free Blacks in the United States Before the Civil War
- Primary source explorations of the lives of free blacks in the U.S.
- An analysis and discussion of Sojourner Truth’s life based on three different versions of a story from her childhood.
- An activity allowing students to research a free black from the antebellum period and compose a short excerpt of a biographical or historical fiction account of a moment from their life.
- Civil War and Emancipation
- Videos and readings about the end of slavery in the U.S.
- An opening exploration and discussion on whether slavery in America could have been abolished peacefully.
Besides the above broad topics on slavery in America, students will also learn:
- How tabletop games can be used to model real life situations and what we can learn from those models.
- How to ask questions about the world and history using a simulation of a historical moment in time.
- How to solve problems and overcome mistakes in a tabletop environment.
- How figures in the real world worked cooperatively (or some times at odds) to overcome the systemic challenge posed by slave catchers, slave markets, and an entrenched system of inequality.
As noted game designer Volko Ruhnke says, “A [game] puts you into history in a way that no book can…. If I’m doing my job properly, the mechanics of the game will force you to consider the choices that real people had to make. That’s advanced. That’s grad-school history, not grade-school stuff.”
While students progress through the many hours of class content, they will earn experience points and badges for the completion of videos, readings, and projects.
Enrollment in this course includes access to the following educational resources for one year from registration:
- The lesson pack content and existing Online G3 social community, within the class and in social forums
- Discovery Education
When you register for this class, you can choose to register an individual learner OR a set of young learners within the same family, allowing multiple students to explore this class together, simultaneously and with their own individual accounts, including access to BrainPOP and Discovery.