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The Underground Railroad

A Web Quest

This project is a collaboration between 2nd grade and 5th grade with the assistance of the library media specialist


Introduction | Task | Process | Evaluation | Conclusion |Resources |


Harriet Tubman was a key figure from the past, who helped to free many slaves from the harsh cruelties of the South. Harriet was a unique individual who persisted in her quest to free the slaves. Your task is to work with your partner to learn how a slave, such as Harriet Tubman, was able to free herself and others using the Underground Railroad.



You and your partner will read two books. You will first read Follow the Drinking Gourd  by Janette Winter and answer some questions about the story. Next, you will read Who Was Harriet Tubman? by Yona Zeldis McDonough, and summarize each chapter. In addition, you will learn the meanings behind the quilt squares that were used by the escaped slaves and develop an understanding of how the quilt squares were used to communicate the routes to freedom. As a final product, you will create a poster that will demonstrate what you have learned about Harriet Tubman.



1) Follow the Drinking Gourd by Janette Winter is a historical fiction account of a family's escape to freedom and the risks involved using the Underground Railroad. "Follow the Drinking Gourd" is a song in which the words provide a secret and ingenious way of giving runaway slaves directions for how to go north to Canada and freedom.

Read this story with your learning partner. Discuss the story, then click on the blinking stars to link to the questions you need to answer. Print out your questions when you have completed the worksheet.

Questions Worksheet

2) Read the story Who Was Harriet Tubman? by Yona Zeldis McDonough. After each chapter, discuss what you have learned, then enter a summary into your e-journal. Please use your own words to summarize what you have learned from each chapter. Click the book  below to link to your e-journal.


3) Click on the quilt square below to link to a vocabulary word list. Follow the directions on the worksheet, and be ready to explain the meanings of the words. Use a dictionary to look up the words if you need more clarification. An online dictionary link is located below. Print out your completed worksheet.


4) Choose a quilt symbol from those you have studied. Click on the quilt square link below to find out the meaning of the arrangements of the quilts.

Underground Railroad Quilt Code

5) As a culminating activity, create a poster highlighting the accomplishments of Harriet Tubman and the importance of the Underground Railroad. Click on the picture of Harriet Tubman  below to link to the graphic organizer you will use as you gather information from the books you have read, your e-journal entries, and various web sites.

Poster Graphic Organizer



You and your partner can earn up to 100 points on this web quest. You may earn the maximum number listed below.

E-Journal Vocabulary Harriet Tubman Poster Quilt Symbol Presentation of poster Follow the Drinking Gourd Questions

** You may also earn 10 bonus points for each enrichment activity**



Through this investigation we have learned that Harriet Tubman was a brave and determined person. She believed that freedom was so important that she would risk her life so that others could be free. She is a true hero!

Now that you have become an expert on Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, try out one or more of the following enrichment activities to test your knowledge of this important time in our nation's history...

Enrichment Activities

Crossword Puzzles

Word Search


Timeline: Click on the template link below to create a timeline of Harriet Tubman's life. Use the book Who Was Harriet Tubman? by Yona Zeldis McDonough and/or the following web site to obtain information to add to your timeline.

Timeline Template

Timeline Web Site:

Code Words: Click on the web site link below to learn what the code words were that were used by the slaves and what each word meant. Print out the code words and their meanings, mix them up, then arrange them correctly, matching each word with its meaning.


Important People: There were many influential people who were a part of the history of the Underground Railroad. Click on the picture below to link to a list of some of the important people that lived during Harriet Tubman's lifetime and follow the directions provided.

Influential People of the Underground Railroad

Harriet Tubman Remembrance Quilt: Choose an interesting fact about Harriet Tubman. Write 1-3 sentences describing this fact. Then click on the quilt link below and type in your fact. Print out the quilt square and draw a picture to go with your fact. Each person must select a different fact, so please check with your classmates before you choose your fact.

Harriet Tubman Remembrance Quilt



In addition to the web sites listed with the Enrichment Activities, we have used/consulted the following resources to create this WebQuest:


Follow the Drinking Gourd by Janette Winter

Who Was Harriet Tubman by Yona Zeldis McDonough

National Geographic: The Underground Railroad:

Harriet Tubman & The Underground Railroad (A WebQuest):

Greenway Elementary's Underground Railroad Quilt:

What Was the Underground Railroad?

Visit the Library for the these and other interesting books about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad:

B Tub Wanted Dead or Alive: The true story of Harriet Tubman McGovern, Ann
B Tub A Picture Book of Harriet Tubman Adler, David
326 Whi North to Liberty: The story of the Underground Railroad White, Anne Terry
973 Rap Escape from Slavery Rappaport, Doreen
B Par Freedom River Rappaport, Doreen
973.7 Lev If you Traveled on the Underground Railroad Levine, Ellen
F Woo Dear Austin: Letters from the Underground Railroad Woodruff, Elvira
F Pea Trouble Don't Last Pearsall, Shelley
E Nel Almost to Freedom Nelson, Vaunda M.
E Vau The Secret to Freedom Vaughan, Marcia K.


© Annette Herbert, Barbara Closson, & Teresa Pristash

Smith Elementary School




Mr. Robert J. Edwards, Superintendent

1 Valley View Drive
Cortland, NY 13045

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