Lesson 1: The Great Depression
Students will learn about the history of the Great Depression. They will also determine cause and effect and practice letter writing.
•Understand the economic aspects of the Great Depression
•Understand the social impact of the Great Depression
•Use general skills and strategies of the writing process
For complete standards click here (PDF).
Printable 1: Not So Great! (PDF)
1. Explain to students that in the 1920s (about 85 years ago) America was a very wealthy place. Businesses grew and people had a lot of money to spend. However, by 1930, businesses had made more goods than people could buy. These businesses started to fail and many people lost their jobs. This period in America was known as the Great Depression.
2.Distribute Printable 1: Not So Great! (PDF). Point out the cause and effect chart at the top of the page. Explain that when people lose their jobs, more businesses fail because no one has money to spend.
3. Instruct students to answer the questions in Part 1. Once they have finished, review the answers as a class. (Answers: 1. People lose jobs; 2. People lose jobs; 3. Answers will vary.)
4. Tell students that people who lost their jobs during the Depression were sometimes treated badly just because they were poor. Explain that when people treat someone badly just based on simple factors such as money, race, or where they are from, it is called prejudice.5. Tell students that, during the Great Depression, many people got their news from newspapers. Newspapers told stories of people in America who struggled during the Great Depression. Direct students to complete Part 2. Remind them that newspaper headlines should be short, but must also grab the reader’s attention. If possible, show examples from a current newspaper.
Invite students to imagine that they are a young person living during the Great Depression. Instruct students to write a letter describing the changes in their town and in their lives. Remind them to use proper structure for a formal letter, including heading, greeting, body, and closing.
To help your students learn about the problems that people faced in the Great Depression, as well as how they can help people who are experiencing similar problems today, distribute copies of Bonus Activity 1: Connecting Past and Present (PDF) .