Teach PA History
How Far to Freedom?
What to Know
Teaching Time
Three 40-minute periods for developing the lesson; two additional 40-minute periods to produce the Big Book to share with younger students
Grade Level
Elementary School
  • Arts and Humanities
  • Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening
  • History
  • Mathematics
Historical Period
  • Expansion and Reform - 1801-1855
As an overview of the issue of slavery and abolition, students will follow the life of William Parker from his early years in enslavement, through his experiences as a fugitive, to his work as a free black abolitionist, and his final move to freedom in Buxton, Ontario, Canada. After all sessions are completed, students will create a "Big Book of the Life of William Parker" to share with students in the primary grades in their school community.


Students will: 1. Trace the life of William Parker to gain an understanding of the Underground Railroad activities of the enslaved, the fugitive, the free black and the abolitionist. 2. Analyze ways Parker put his beliefs into action. 3. Read excerpts from a primary document on William Parker's early life. 4. Identify the early life experiences of William Parker that may have influenced his work as an abolitionist. 5. Compare the experiences of the enslavers and the free black men and women through the events of the Christiana Resistance. 6. Map the routes of fugitives using the Underground Railroad to Canada. 7. Create a Big Book to share with primary students in the learning community to demonstrate the experiences of people who participated in the Underground Railroad.

Standards Alignment

  • Arts and Humanities

    9.1.5. E. Knows and demonstrates how arts can communicate experiences, stories or emotions through the production of works in the arts

  • History

    8.2.6. A. Identifies political and cultural contributions of individuals to Pennsylvania history

  • Mathematics

    2.6.5. C. Sorts data using Venn diagrams

  • Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening

    1.1.5. G. Summarizes main ideas of the text
    1.4.5. A. Writes multi-paragraph stories to include detailed descriptions of people, places and things

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