The Liberty Bell as a Symbol for Civil Rights, grades 4-8
- Grade Level:
- Fourth Grade-Eighth Grade
- Civil Rights Movement, Community, History, Social Studies
- Two class sessions
- Group Size:
- Up to 36
- National/State Standards:
- Reading Information Text RI 5.1, Writing W 5.4, Reading History RH (6-8).1, RH (6-8).2, RH (6-8).7
- Liberty Bell, Civil Rights, Freedom, Symbolism
OverviewStudents will examine primary sources to discover the connection between the inscription on the Liberty Bell and the Civil Rights Movement.
Students will understand the connection between symbolism used during the Civil Rights era and the symbol of the Liberty Bell by examining primary sources.
- Primary sources - "We Shall Overcome" lyrics, two political cartoons, Harper's Weekly magazine cover, "I Have a Dream" speech
- Internet access for the class to gather information about the Civil Rights era (students may work in partners)
- Saving the Liberty Bell picture book by Marty Rhodes Figley - ISBN 1-57505-696-8 - to provide background on the Liberty Bell
- Poster paper, markers, art materials - for designing poster, song, poem, advertisement
- Chart paper, markers
- Highlighters - one for each student
"I Have a Dream" speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Download
Political cartoon with doctors Download
Lyrics to "We Shall Overcome" Download
Political cartoon regarding restaurant Download
Cover of Harper's Weekly, January 24, 1885 Download
Liberty and the Civil Rights Era student worksheet Download
Before the Lesson:
1. Write the four essential questions on chart paper hanging around the room for the group activity. (Step one of the closing)
2. Students will investigate two websites to search for facts about the civil rights era. You may want to bookmark these sites on the computer: http://www.sitins.com/ and https://www.nps.gov/history/nr/travel/civilrights/.
3. You may need to discuss or do a mini-lesson about how to read a political cartoon. * Refer to Suffrage Lesson for Grades 6-12 for instruction on cartoon analysis. Make an overhead of political cartoon #1 to use with the whole class, or you can meet with the groups that are assigned the political cartoons if that is more feasible.
4. Divide the students into five groups. Consider who would work well together in a group, and group the children in a way that will foster rich discussion. Your role is to guide the discussion –the students should initiate the discussions.
5. Copy enough of each of the five primary sources and worksheets for the students.
6. Write "Civil Rights Vocabulary" at the top of one piece of chart paper to be used in #1 of the procedure. Label a second piece of chart paper with "Liberty Bell Vocabulary" to be used with step #2.
Whole Class Discussion:
1. Visit the computer lab as a class and work with a partner to investigate the websites listed in Step 1.
2. Ask the class to take notes of vocabulary to share with the class that relates to the civil rights era.
3. List their vocabulary on the chart paper labeled "Civil Rights Vocabulary." Additional websites listed at the end of the lesson plan.
- Examples of vocabulary: discrimination, segregation, black and white, freedom, rights, support, African American, sit in, march, peace, independence, Philadelphia, Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., NAACP, non-violent protests.
- You may need to break here and continue the remainder of the lesson in another class period.
1. Explain that you're going to read a picture book about the Liberty Bell, and ask the class to be prepared to share vocabulary or ideas they think of as you read.
2. List them on the chart paper labeled "Liberty Bell Vocabulary". Read Saving the Liberty Bell to the class.
- Examples of vocabulary: freedom, support, crack, teamwork, liberty, peace, independence, Philadelphia, symbol.
*Refer to Suffrage Lesson that provides instructions and worksheets for analyzing cartoons as primary sources.
1. Divide the students into five groups –each group will have a different primary source and worksheet.
2. Give each group enough copies of their primary source and worksheet so that each student has his/her own copy of each.
3. Explain to the students that they are to examine/read their resource, looking for and highlighting signs, symbols, or phrases that represent freedom and/or liberty. (Ideally, the students will discover that the signs, symbols, or phrases that they find will relate to the class notes already on the Liberty Bell and Civil Rights vocabulary chart papers.) Then, through discussion, students will complete their worksheets.
1. The students will arrive at a "group answer(s)" for each of the essential questions to be shared with the rest of the class. A recorder will write their answers on four separate Post-It notes, and will hang them on the chart paper with the appropriate question.
Whole Class Discussion:
1. The teacher will choose a student to read the posters one by one, stressing that symbols for freedom are shown in a variety of methods relating to the Civil Rights Movement, including the symbol of the Liberty Bell.
Use the rubric in conjunction with the following assessment project to test your students' understanding of the material presented in the lesson. Tell students:
- "You've been hired by a local organization to write a speech or song, draw a political cartoon, or design an advertisement, stamp, or poster to teach other students about the Liberty Bell and how it has been an important symbol of freedom. Design your piece including the Liberty Bell, and write a paragraph explaining what the Liberty Bell symbolizes in your piece, and why you feel your piece would be a successful example of the Liberty Bell. Be prepared to share."
This lesson plan helps students understand the history of this international symbol of liberty.