Lesson Plan

Traveling the National Road: Unit 5 Workers Along the National Road

Painting of a Conestoga wagon with the wagon driver riding one of the horses

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Grade Level:
Upper Elementary: Third Grade through Fifth Grade
Social Studies
Lesson Duration:
60 Minutes
Common Core Standards:
3.L.4, 3.RI.1, 3.RI.2, 3.W.1
Thinking Skills:
Remembering: Recalling or recognizing information ideas, and principles. Understanding: Understand the main idea of material heard, viewed, or read. Interpret or summarize the ideas in own words.

Essential Question

Was the National Road important to the development of the United States?

Guiding Questions: What kinds jobs were found along on the National Road? What types of jobs are no longer common? What types of jobs do people still work in today?


Student Objectives: After completing the lesson students will be able to:

• List four jobs created by the National Road
• List one duty for the farmer, tollhouse keeper, blacksmith and tavern keeper


Workers Along the National Road is unit 5 of a complete teacher’s guide for 3rd grade students, entitled “Traveling the National Road.”

This unit covers the different type of jobs that were created by all the commence on the National Road, teaching the students about what types of work people preformed and what the duties of those jobs were. It includes two pages of background information for the teacher and all the instructions for teaching the lesson. The student reading, entitled “Works Along the National Road,” introduces to students to the work done by that stagecoach driver, the tollhouse keeper, the blacksmith and the tavern keeper. The first student activity, “Traffic Along the National Road,” has the students look at an illustration and identify the jobs people are performing. The second student activity, “Jobs Along the National Road,” has the students write the correct label under illustrations of different work with the name of the job preformed at the location.


  1. Read the teacher background information, essential question and the guiding questions.
  2. Make copies of the student reading and student activities for the class.


Download Unit 5 Workers Along the National Road

Lesson Hook/Preview

The National Road was so busy it created many jobs. Some, such as stagecoach driver, wagoner and rock crusher, are no longer common. Others, such as waitress, maid and cook, are still employing people today.


  1. Introduce the essential and guiding questions.
  2. Read the lesson hook to the class.
  3. Have the students complete the reading and activity sheets.
  4. Discuss with the students.


Tollhouse keeper – a person who collects tolls at a toll house
Blacksmith – a person who make items out of iron
Tavern keeper – a person who oversees the operation of a tavern

Assessment Materials

Answers to the questions are included in the downloaded lesson plan.

Supports for Struggling Learners

The teacher can read the materials to the students and discuss the thought questions as a class. The students can work in groups to answer the questions.

Enrichment Activities

Have the students choose one of the occupation cards and compare how that occupation is accomplished today. There is a link to the occupation cards.

Additional Resources

For the “Traffic on the National Road” activity you may use a color image found in the painting: The Fairview Inn Three Mile House on Old Frederick Road, owned by the Maryland Historical Society. Follow this link.

Teachers can get the teacher's guide free of charge as a CD. Additionally, posters and a book are also available.  Please go to the Receiving National Road Curriculum Materials page for information.  

Students can take a virtual field trip by watch the 25-minute Virtual Field Trip: The Mount Washington Tavern.

Related Lessons or Education Materials

The "Traveling the National Road" teacher's guide is broken into ten units and is targeted for 3rd grade students. Each unit can be completed independently.

Check out the links to the other lesson plans:

Unit 1: Overview of the National Road
Unit 2: Construction of the National Road
Unit 3: Travelers and Transportation on the National Road
Unit 4: Accommodation on the National Road
Unit 5: Workers Along the National Road
Unit 6: Decline and Rebirth of the National Road
Unit 7: Biography Cards
Unit 8: Occupation Cards
Unit 9: Historic Site Cards
Unit 10: Artifact Activities

Other resource include:

Appendix with timeline, vocabulary and bibliography
Poster of the National Road
Poster of the Toll Rates Along the National Road
Introduction to the teacher guide and table of contents


Please go to the Receiving National Road Curriculum Materials page for information on receiving the teacher's guide as a CD.  

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