Great Depression of the 1930′s
Lesson Plan with Activities:
“Brother, can you spare a dime?” became the catch phrase during the Great Depression. Many Americans felt hopeless about unemployment and the inability to sustain themselves. They had suffered the stock market crash, had lost their jobs and homes and at the same time families in the Midwest were forced to flee the Dust Bowl area of the United States. Students will explore these events beginning with the immediate time period which preceded the Great Depression. They will also research the lives of individuals who endured these hardships and examine Americans perseverance during the most “depressed” time in U.S. history.
Lesson One: What preceded the Great Depression?
a.) Using the computer lab, students will research and take notes on the economic and
social conditions of the late 1920′s using The American Folklife Center.
b.) Working in groups of 4, students will then share information and create a written
storyboard of the most important facts in 1928 and 1929. Complete for homework.
Lesson Two: What is the Stock Market Exchange?
a.) One student from each group shares storyboard ideas on 1928 and 1929.
b.) Students will watch a 17 minute video on the Stock Market, “Stock Market:
What Goes Up…?”.
c.) Students will begin discussing the purpose and function of the Stock Market
in the late 20′s. Selected vocabulary will be noted for future quiz.
Lesson Three: The Crash.
a.) Using the Smart Board, material from Prosperity and Thrift: The Coolidge Era
will be reviewed in class to scope the depth of the Stock Market crash. Students will
take notes and highlight new vocabulary.
b.) Students will view and take notes on a 10 minute videotape clip from, “The Great
Shake-Up”, examining the relationship between the stock market and the
national economy in 1929.
c.) Homework includes research on individuals who survived “The Crash”.
Lesson Four: The Crash — Part Two.
a.) Quiz on vocabulary words and take an essay defining “what is an economic
b.) Discuss and share notable individuals lives who witnessed this era.
c.) Students will share their research in groups of 4 and continue their storyboard
for 1929-1930. Storyboards should be completed for homework including facts
on “how this happened”.
Lesson Five: The Great Depression.
a.) Students will display storyboard with overview by one member in each group.
b.) Introduction to the Great Depression will be viewed on the Smart Board from
the website, American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project.
Several stories cited with Depression stories and lifestyles will be examined by the class
and read aloud.
c.) Students will begin reading text on the Great Depression Era. Review for test.
Lesson Six: Great Depression — Part Two.
a.) Students will view and take notes on the last segment of the videotape on the Great
Depression Era. Vocabulary words will be highlighted.
b.) In the computer lab, students will research and take notes on this tragic time period.
c.) Storyboard material is researched on the Great Depression of the United States.
Lesson Seven: Great Depression — Part Three.
a.) Test on Stock Market Crash and beginning of the Great Depression.
b.) Students (groups of 4) will gather materials to continue creating a storyboard of this
c.) Students will present best of materials and information gathered. All are taking notes
and highlighting vocabulary works. Homework is researching dust storms and possible
interview of a family or individual who lived during this era.
Lesson Eight: Introduction to the Dust Bowl.
a.) Students will review dust storms in the United States and take notes from the
their textbook on the “Dust Bowl” disaster in 1935. Vocabulary words are noted.
b.) 15 minutes of the non-fictional videotape, “Grapes of Wrath and the 1930′s” will be
viewed by students. Notes and highlighted vocabulary words will be collected. The main
focus will include how the economy failed farmers and rural living.
c.) Introduction to the Dust Bowl states and viewing the movie, “Grapes of Wrath”, is
Lesson Nine: The Dust Bowl in United States History.
a.) Students continue in groups to compile a storyboard on the Dust Bowl. They create
The Dust Bowl Map Activity.
b.) Students use the Smart Board to review the website, Voices from the Dust Bowl.
Notes are taken with vocabulary highlighted. Scavenger hunt activity is designed.
Storyboards will finish with the Dust Bowl disaster. Questions are due for homework.
Lesson Ten: Dust Bowl — A new beginning.
a.) The Scavenger Hunt is designed on the Smart Board.
b.) Students meet in groups to design the last page of their storyboards.
Students Storyboards: As part of the class project, students continually updated their group storyboard to continue a timeline in history from 1929-1936.
Student Interviews: Students who researched families or individuals acquired first hand knowledge and familiarity of living in the late 1920′s and early 1930′s.
TECHNOLOGY USED: Laptop Computer, LCD projector with Smart Board, Computer lab, PowerPoint, Video recordings.
RESOURCES: American Memory Collection
American Folklife Center
American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers Project
America from the Great Depression to World War II
Prosperity and Thrift: The Coolidge Era
Voices from the Dust Bowl