Grade 7: History of US Slave Trading

Teacher: Ms. Monica Jett
Subject: U.S. History
Grade Level: 7th grade
Topic: Slave Trade
Slavery had existed since ancient times. However, in many cultures, slavery was
not for life. In many African societies, people captured in war were only enslaved
for a few years. Then, they were freed and became full members of society.
As a need for cheap labor grew and it was discovered that a huge profit
could be made through selling slaves in the American colonies slavery became a
vital way of life for many southern plantations.
Time Required
Two (90 minute class periods)
As a result of this lesson the students will be able to:
1. Identify the physical and emotional impact of being enslaved
2. Describe the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the impact it had upon the
American Colonies
3. List the European’s role in enslaving Africans
Materials Needed
Document Camera
Engraving: “Traite de Negres”
Book entitled Lest We Forget by Velma Maia Thomas
1. Warm up: Ask the students how they might feel if they were taken captive
and transported thousands of miles from home. Discuss with the class.
2. Using the document camera project the engraving “Trait de Negres” as large
possible for the entire class to view. The image should be life size from
floor to ceiling. Inform the students that this an early recording of a slave
trade and was intended to bring to the public eye the inhumanity of the
slave trade. In the foreground, a woman with her child clinging to her is
being taken to a boat, and an African man is being subdued by two
European men. The background depicts a variety of tiny images of slaves
being rounded up and placed into boats.
3. The students are then to make observations of what physical characteristics
and actions they identify in the image. Choose one student to come up to
the front of the room and describe one of them to the class. For example,
the student may select the young European boy who looks to be pulling a
small boat and he is well dressed. Ask other students to come to the front
of the room one at a time and have them follow the same procedure until all
the characters in the image are described. (The students who just described
their character are to stay off to the side and not to return to their desks)
4. The remaining students are to look at the image and infer what is happening
in the picture. Who are these individuals? How do the people feel? Where
do you think that they are going or being taken from? For example, An
African woman is being taken from her family and the child is reaching out
to his mother or the African man is crying in the boat for fear of being taken
away from his family and all he knows.
5. To asses the students understanding of the image the teacher can play the
role as reporter at first then assign another student. The students that
described their character earlier are going to assume the pose of the person
that they described in the image.
6. The reporter will then ask the students to describe how they are feeling. For
example, “I am scared because I do not know where I am going and why!”
Ask the students to identify sources that may help them prove whether their
inferences about their character are accurate. Students should come up with
newspapers, letters, journals...etc
7. Using the document camera the teacher is to read Lest We Forget by Velma
Maia Thomas. This is a three dimensional interactive book with photographs
and documents from the passage from Africa to Slavery. Here the students
can view primary source documents view images and complete a worksheet
giving them more insight on the beginnings of slavery in America.
Extension Activity/Closure
The students are to assume the identity of a slave boy or girl taken from their
home in Africa. They are to describe in detail in letter format, how they were
taken from their family, the voyage over, hardships endured, and what they are
doing now in this new land called America. Make sure to include feeling and
emotions in this letter.