Lesson Plans and Classroom Activities

Below is a list of lesson plans generated by teachers who have attended our NEH Summer Institute for Teachers, Voices Across Time. Select the title to view the lesson. Downloadable PDFs are available from the lesson plan page. 

Era Lesson Title Song Title Topics
1760 New England’s Annoyances “New England’s Annoyances” colony, hardship, Pilgrims, settlers
1760 Murder Ballads “The Cruel Ship’s Carpenter,” “Pretty Polly,” “The Willow Tree,” “Tom Dooley,” “Frankie and Johnnie,” “Zeb Tourney’s Girl” Romeo, Juliet, death, love, ballad
1760-1820 The Liberty Song “The Liberty Song,” “Free America,” “You Simple Bostonians,” “The Burrowing Yankees” Boston, patriotism, protest, Revolution, war
1800-1860 Beyond the Gold Rush “Seeing for the Elephant,” “The Old Settler’s Song,” “He’s the Man for Me” California, settlers, west
1800-1860 Patting Juba “Patting Juba” dance, slaves, games
1800-1860 Slave Code Songs “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” “O Canaan,” “Walk in the Water,” “Steal Away” slaves, escape, free, Underground Railroad
1800-1860 de Tocqueville or Jackson’s America “Oh, Shenandoah” Manifest Destiny, west, rural, urban, expansion
1800-1860 Presidential Election of 1824 “Little Know Ye Who’s Coming,” “Hunters of Kentucky” Manifest Destiny, west, rural, urban, expansion, candidate
1800-1860 Hard Times Come Again No More “Hard Times Come Again No More” Manifest Destiny, west, rural, urban, expansion, economy, political cartoons
1860-1876 Hard Crackers Come Again No More “Hard Crackers Come Again No More,” “Army Grub,” “Goober Peas” Civil War, soldiers, hardship,, war
1860-1876 Origin of Taps “Taps,” “Lights Out” Civil War, soldiers, bugle, war
1860-1876 Dream Deferred “Dream Montage,” “Blow Your Trumpet Gabriel” African Americans, civil rights, racism, Reconstruction
1870-1900 Historical Disasters/Chicago Fire “Billow of Fire,” “Lost and Saved,” “Passing Through the Fire” urban, myth, hardship
1870-1900 Gilded Age and Liberty “Future America,” “New American Anthem” expansion, economy, politics, political cartoons
1870-1900 Songs of the Western Frontier “Oh California,” “The Old Chisholm Trail,” “Home on the Range,” “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” west, expansion, California 
1870-1900 Coming to America “Thousands are Sailing to Amerikay,” “Ikh Hob Dikh Lib, Amerika (I Love You America),” “Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor” immigration, technology, Ellis Island
1870-1900 No Irish Need Apply “No Irish Need Apply” immigration, discrimination
1870-1900 The Bowery “The Bowery” urban, hardship, tenement 
1870-1900 Thousands are Coming to Amerikay “Thousands are Sailing to Amerikay,” “El Deportado” immigration, discrimination
1870-1900 Songs that Tell the Story of the Railroad “Drill Ye Tarriers Drill” labor, economy, transportation, expansion
1870-1900 John Henry Blues “John Henry Blues” labor, economy, transportation, technology
1870-1900 Cowboy Songs and Ballads “The Old Chisholm Trail,” “Whoopie Ti Yi Yo, Git Along Little Dogie,” “The Cowboy’s Lament,” “Little Joe the Wrangler,” “The Yellow Rose of Texas,” “The Red River Valley” west, expansion, hardship, love
1870-1900 Social Issues of the Industrialized United States “Babies in the Mill,” “Lowell Factory Girls,” “Keep Women in Their Sphere,” “Freedom’s Anthem,” “Go It While You’re Young,” “The Wife’s Lament,” “I Don’t Want Your Millions Mister,” “And Now Assemble” labor, economy, hardship, urban, suffrage, temperance, Progressivism, industry
1890-1930 African American Art “Black and Blue,” “Brown” musical, racism, discrimination
1890-1930 America After WWI “How 'Ya Gonna Keep Them Down on the Farm?”, “The Charleston Rag,” “She’s Only a Bird in a Gilded Cage” soldiers, dance, African Americans, Jazz Age
1890-1930 Understanding Legends in History “Heebie Jeebies,” “To Be In Love” Jazz Age, myth, technology, dance
1890-1930 Putting a Face on the Organization of Labor “Sweet By and By,” “Joe Hill,” “The Preacher and the Slave” labor, industry, hardship
1890-1930 The Eight Hour Day “Eight Hour Day” labor, industry, hardship
1890-1930 The Homestead Strike v1 “The Homestead Strike” labor, industry, hardship
1890-1930 The Homestead Strike v2 “The Homestead Strike” labor, industry, hardship
1890-1930 Kaulana Na Pua (Famous are the Flowers) “Kaulana Na Pua” expansion, isolation, Manifest Destiny, economy, political cartoons
1890-1930 We Have Remembered the Maine “We Have Remembered the Maine,” “Buffalo Soldiers” expansion, isolation, Manifest Destiny, economy, political cartoons, war
1890-1930 The Stars and Stripes Forever “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” “You’re a Grand Old Flag” patriotism, expansion, isolation, Manifest Destiny, economy, political cartoons
1890-1930 Labor Unions – Flint “There’ll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonite,” “Women’s Auxiliary Song” labor, industry, hardship, economy
1890-1930 Labor Unions – Homestead “The Homestead Strike” labor, industry, hardship, economy
1890-1930 Labor Unions – Lawrence “My Children are Seven in Number,” “Bread and Roses” labor, industry, hardship, economy
1890-1930 The Lusitania in Music “When the Lusitania Went Down” foreign policy, patriotism, isolation, hardship, war
1890-1930 The Great Gatsby and the Roaring Twenties “Suddenly I Saw,” “Tiny Dancer,” “Sheik of Araby,” “The Love Nes,t” “Three O’Clock in the Morning,” “The Rosary” Jazz Age, soundtracks, popular culture
1890-1930 Iconography of Circuses “Hannibal Hope and the Circus Parade,” “A Trip to the Circus,” “The Passing of the Circus Parade” Water For Elephants, symbolism, empathy
1890-1930 Iconography of Hoboes “Beans, Bacon, and Gravy,” “Big Rock Candy Mountain,” “Train Narration,” “A Long Way to Travel” Water For Elephants, symbolism, empathy
1890-1930 Iconography of Trains “Iron Horse,” “Calling Trains,” “Train Blues,” “A Long Way to Travel” Water For Elephants, symbolism, empathy
1890-1930 Steel Unit “Raggedy,” “The Trouble Down at Homestead,” “Father Was Killed by the Pinkerton Man,” “Twenty Inch Mill,” “Steel Mill Blues,” “Pittsburgh Town,” “Youngstown,” “Allentown” labor, industry, hardship, economy
1929-1045 Conflicting Images of Migrant Labor “Big Rock Candy Mountain,” “Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos),” “Hobo’s Lullaby” labor, industry, hardship, economy
1929-1945 Isolationism v Internationalism “Sinking of the Reuben James” expansion, isolation, foreign policy
1929-1945 Migrant Melodies “Seven Cent Cotton and Forty Cent Meat” labor, hardship, economy
1929-1945 US Entry into WWII “What Are We Waitin’ On?”, “Ballad of October 16,” “Citizen CIO” foreign policy, patriotism, protest
1929-1945 God Bless the Child “God Bless the Child” Jazz Age, hardship African Americans
1929-1945 Holocaust Prevention “Butterfly,” “Birdsong,” “Yes. That’s the Way Things Are,” “Man Proposes, God Disposes,” “The Garden,” “The Old House” hardship, empathy
1929-1945 Tom Joad “Tom Joad,” “The Ghost of Tom Joad” hardship, labor, economy
1929-1945 New York World’s Fair “Dawn of the New Day,” “I.G.Y.” technology
1945-1970 Brave New World “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall,” “Lord Randall” hardship, technology, ballad
1945-1970 Rebellion in the 1950s “Summertime Blues” economy, labor, dance
1945-1970 Ballad of the Green Berets “Ballad of the Green Berets,” “War” soldiers, war, patriotism, protest
1945-1970 Evolution of Civil Rights “Strange Fruit,” “Freedom Road,” “We Shall Overcome,” “People Get Ready” civil rights, African Americans
1945-1970 The Kennedy Assassination: The Loss of Innocence in America “He Was a Friend of Mine” politics, hardship
1945-1970 Songs of Protest “War,” “God Bless the USA” soldiers, war, patriotism
1968-present The Evolving Image of American Womanhood “I am Woman,” “Pretty Face,” “At Seventeen” suffrage, equal rights, gender, equality
1968-present   Freedom of Speech “Freedom of Speech” politics, patriotism, protest
1968-present Songs of Loss: Springsteen and 9/11 “You’re Missing,” “Empty Sky” hardship, patriotism
1968-present Trees Like Me Weren’t Meant to Live “A Day in the Life of a Tree,” “Ye Noble Big Pine Tree” economy, ecology, empathy
1968-present A Boy Named Sue “A Boy Named Sue” ballad
1968-present Life After the Assassination of MLK “Inner City Blues” politics, hardship, civil rights, African Americans
1968-present Lift Every Voice and Sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” politics, hardship, civil rights, African Americans
1968-present Testimony “Testimony” equal rights, gender, equality
1968-present Panics, Depressions, and Hard Times “Hard Times: Great Depressions v Great Recession” economy, politics, hardship
1968-present Social Justice Issues “Black and White,” “Everyday People,” “We Shall Be Free” equality, politics, civil rights, African Americans
Creative Commons License
Voices Across Time is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at voices.pitt.edu/Permissions.html.