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The Great Depression for Kids


Found in: social studies; 3-5; 6-8; 9-12

The Great Depression for Kids: Hardship and Hope in 1930s America with 21 Activities by Cheryl Mullenbach (2015) (130 pages, and can be purchased on Amazon.com or found FREE in your public library)

This illustrated history (Grades 4-Up) of the Great Depression opens with a description of the years preceding the stock market crash: The end of WWI, 1918 Flu epidemic, immigration restrictions, Red Scare, racism, Harlem Renaissance, and the financial excesses of the Roaring Twenties. Chapters cover leadership, urban life and breadlines, rural life and the Dustbowl, childhood during tough times, New Deal, and entertainment. Each chapter features sidebars and activities like preparing a Depression Era soup, simulating a windstorm, developing a slang dictionary, designing a guide book of a state, writing and performing a radio script, and more. Resources include websites and books to explore, and an extensive bibliography indicates books suitable for young readers.

Here are some additional lessons to supplement the book:

  • Children’s Letters to Mrs. Roosevelt Students (grades 5-12) read letters from children to Eleanor Roosevelt to gain insight into what their lives might have been like had they lived in the 1930s.
  • The Great Depression and the 1990s Students (grades 9-12) use documents, personal interviews, and the Library of Congress's online legislative information understand why government takes care of its people and how New Deal welfare state started.
  • The Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, and the New Deal Students (grades 9-12) analyze strategies the federal government used in response to the economic crisis of the Depression and the agricultural disaster of the Dust Bowl.
  • In addition, Chicago Review Press has many science, history, and art titles in its “For Kids Series”. Another book for history and journalism classes is Nellie Bly and Investigative Journalism for Kids: Mighty Muckrakers from the Golden Age to Today, with 21 Activities. The book covers the career of Elizabeth Jane Cochran (Nellie Bly), the changing world of journalism, and today’s investigative journalists. One of the activities is making a “writer’s block,” a cube with suggestions for priming the word pump.

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