Museum Classroom: Who is Harriet Tubman?

Lesson: Who is Harriet Tubman?
Topic: Exploring the life of Harriet Tubman
Grade 3-6

Activity: Minibiography of Harriet Tubman

Objectives/Learning Outcomes:

  • Students will be able to explain how Harriet Tubman helped many slaves escape to freedom through the Underground Railroad.
  • Students will understand the timeline of events of Harriet Tubman’s life, summarizing major events in her life.
  • Students will demonstrate information learned about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad by creating a minibiography.
  • Students will analyze Harriet Tubman’s impact on slavery.

Curriculum Expectations

  • Social Studies
  • Language
  • Art

Materials Required

  • Pencil crayons, markers
  • Blank lined paper

Materials Provided

  • Harriet Tubman: Life of an Escaped Slave short story
  • Harriet Tubman minibiography handout

Pre-Lesson: Discussion of enslavement and Harriet Tubman
Begin by asking students if they have ever been in a situation where they were treated unfairly. How did they know they were being treated unfairly? How did it make them feel? What did they do to solve the problem?

Ask students if they have ever heard the term slave and what does it mean? Explain to students that a slave is a person who is being held against their will to perform some type of labour (i.e. working on a farm, cleaning, etc.) Today, many historians use the term enslaved to help separate a person’s identity from their circumstance of being a slave. However, for historical purposes the term slave is sometimes used when describing a period in time when slavery occurred.

Ask students if they have ever heard the name Harriet Tubman. If students recognize the name, ask them who she is. Explain to students that Harriet Tubman was born into slavery and later escaped in search of freedom. Once she escaped, she made it her life’s mission to help other African American enslaved people escape to freedom who were also being treated poorly.

To facilitate this lesson, you may do the following options: print off the Harriet Tubman: Life of an Escaped Slave short story or read digitally on an assisted learning device (computer, iPad, tablet, etc.).

As a class or individually, read the Harriet Tubman: Life of an Escape Slave short story. Use the reading tips to help guide the story.

Once students have finished reading the story, explain to students that they will be making a minibiography of Harriet Tubman based on what they read in the story.

  1. Download and print the Harriet Tubman: Life of an Escaped Slave short story. If you cannot print, STCM recommend downloading the Adobe or Word version of the handout.

Provide students with the Harriet Tubman Biography handout. Explain to students that under researcher they will put their name. Under person’s name, students will put Harriet Tubman. They may also include her other name. Students will then include the other information included birth, death, what Harriet is most known for and five facts. Students may also draw a portrait of Harriet Tubman or print off a picture and glue it on the handout.

2. Download and print the Harriet Tubman Biography template. If you cannot print, STCM recommend downloading the Adobe or Word version of the handout.

Wrap up Discussion
Once students have completed their Harriet Tubman biography handout, have students share what they wrote with the class. This will allow students to develop a deeper understanding by hearing their classmates’ answers.

Differentiated Instruction
Students who have cognitive, learning, or mobility issues may verbally describe their biography or use an assisted learning device (i.e. computer, iPad, tablet, etc.) to complete the handout.

Assist students with reading of the short story and break paragraphs up into smaller sentences.

Students imagine they are a freedom seeker who has just arrived in St. Catharines to start their new life. On a piece of line paper, students write a journal entry about their new experiences. Be sure to include if they arrived with family or alone, where they are living, where they are working and what their journey was life before arriving in St. Catharines. Have students share their journal entries with their classmates. Have students compare their journal entries with classmates, are their any similarities or differences?


Leave a Reply