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Growing Up in Coal Country - Lesson Plans

Page history last edited by ann.thier@st.bemidjistate.edu 13 years ago

I have listed 3 separate lessons activities connecting Growing Up in Coal Country with child labor during the Industrial Revolution and today. The standards and objectives apply to all lessons.


Lesson Objective:


     Students will identify what child labor is.  Students will know why child labor was and is used and how it has helped to shape our country.  The students will identify how child labor has been improved in the US and how they can help to stop child labor today.




G. Reshaping the Nation and the Emergence of Modern America, 1877-1916  The student will analyze the transformation of the American economy and the changing social and political conditions in response to the Industrial Revolution.

4.  Students will analyze the impact of the Progressive Movement on child labor and working conditions; the rise of organized labor; women’s suffrage and the temperance movement, and identify the contributions of individuals in these movements



Pre-Lesson Vocabulary

      Do Steps 1 and 2 from Vocabulary Activities



Lesson 1 Introduction to child labor


Growing Up in Coal Country

Child Labor

Jobs the young boys had in the mines




            Growing Up in Coal Country by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

            4 pieces of poster board or other large paper

            4 sets of markers

            Copies of the book for each of the 4 jobs for each group.

             Scissors and glue


I will begin the lesson by reading pages 11 through 13 to introduce the book Growing Up in Coal Country


This is a jigsaw activity.  The class will be divided into 4 groups each of the groups will be given a different job.  The jobs are Breaker boy, Nipper, Spragger and Mule Driver.   The group will need to read the pages from Growing Up in Coal Country about their assigned job.  After reading the group is required to make a poster explaining the job they have received.  Each member of the group needs to be in charge explaining one of the following.


The responsibilities for the person doing the job..

Why the job is hard/dangerous.

What age are the boys and when did they get the job?

Find personal story about a boy doing this job.

Find visuals to use on the poster.


Together the group will design a poster to help explain to the class the job they were in charge of doing.


When the groups are done with their posters, each group will explain their poster to the class.  The class will ask them questions and we will have a brief discussion about each job. 





Students should do step 4 of the Growing up in Coal Country Vocabulary Activities to review the new words they have learned.




Lesson 2 Information Gathering


Students should do step 5 of the Growing up in Coal Country Vocab Activities and write their own stories based on pictures from the book.




     KWL chart and marker

     Power point presentation



We will fill in a KWL chart about child labor


We will then have a discussion about child labor and use a power point presentation about laws on child labor in the US. 

Power Point

We will finish the KWL chart with what they learned.



     Students will take an open note quiz on information included in the power point. 


Lesson 3 Time to take action




     Web site for Child Labor Public Education Project



Students will use the Child Labor Public Education Project   web site to research where and why child labor is being used today.  They will also use their notes from the power point presented in Lesson 2.   Students are then required to write a summary of why child labor is used today.  They then need to write a solution to the problem.  They need to come up with a plan of action that we living in the United States of America can do to stop child labor in other parts of the world.



     Students need to include 5 reasons for why child labor is used today to get full credit.  Students need to include in their solution what can be done by our government, our local area and what they can do individually to get full credit.




Reasons for child labor today

     5 points for at least 5 reasons for child labor today

     4 points for 4 reasons related to child labor today

     3 points for 3 reasons related to child labor today

     2 points for 2 reasons related to child labor today

     1 point for 1 reason



     5 points for having a solution that is out of the box.  Solution includes what our Government can do, what our local area can do and what they can do individually.

     4  All of the above but the solution is not out of the box.

     3 Student's solution includes only two of the following government, local area or individual

     2 Solution includes only one of the following government, local area, or individual but is out of the box.

     1 Solution includes only one of the following government, local area, or individual 

     0 No solution listed.    





Incorporated other Growing up in Coal Country Vocab Activities when time allows through out the unit



We will continue to use this book as we move on in the Industrial Revolution and study working conditions that led to the formation of unions and strikes.  


The information on the open note quiz will also be included on the unit test about the Industrial Revolution.





Home Page for Growing Up in Coal Country

Vocabulary Activities for Growing Up in Coal Country

Vocabulary for Growing Up in Coal Country

Comments (3)

cindy alfred said

at 7:30 pm on Mar 29, 2011

Ann, I see you have a start to your lesson plans. I like the jigsaw activity and look forward to reading more about it. I like your reference to the citizen action plan of the students writing a solution to the problem.

mdowings said

at 8:17 pm on Mar 29, 2011

I am loving what you have so far for the jigsaw lesson. It is age appropriate and feel that the students will really dive into this. You are missing a crucial part which is the lesson objectives (I am sure you will get to them). A suggestoin I would give is for the objective the experts in their area of studie (i.e. breaker boy, nipper etc). It seems that you are in the process of creating multiple lessons that fit into the best practices for social studies and look forward to seeing the end result however as of now there is not enough information for me to review. I feel that the jigsaw does afford the students ways to improve their litteracy and content skills because you have them reading the portion of the book they have been directed to read and then creating posters describing their section/person. The literacy portion could be improved up by tying in the new vocabulary somewhere. A suggestion would be for the students to include at least five new vocabulary words in their presentation. Again these are all just suggestions. I hope they help. Great start Ann!

mdowings said

at 8:21 pm on Mar 29, 2011

I now see the objectives at the top please disreguard my previouse criteque on this section. I do however feel that they do not quite match up with what the lesson achieves. Are they going to identify how child labor was improved during the disucssion portion of the jigsaw? Just something to think about.

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