Slavery in America ~ Early American History

Africa is my Home: A Child of the Amistad
by Monica Edinger

The story of an African girl who was kidnapped and put on board the slave ship Amistad back in the 1800’s. It is written from the young girl’s point of view and therefore a child appropriate read, but still a very sad book of how much she misses her homeland, the injustices of slavery, and the longing for her parents who she may never see again.

Henry’s Freedom Box
by Ellen Levine

The story of an escaping African slave who mails himself in a crate to freedom in the north. This story appeals to kids in that it keeps the subject light and speaks of the journey itself and the upside down ride he took part of the way to get there.

by Henry Cole

There are no words in this book, but you can follow along with the pictures and follow the little girl as she discovers a runaway slave hiding in her family’s barn. She eventually gets over her initial startled fear and return to the barn to bring him food. She checks on him again later but finds he has left. But in the pile of corn stalks he was hiding in lays a newly made corn husk doll just for her.

Follow The Drinking Gourd
by Henry Cole

Set to rhyme, this book follows a group of runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad who must follow the drinking gourd in the sky (the little dipper) in order to reach freedom.

In our study of slavery, we focused on the traditions of Africa, games that the children played and their escape on the Underground Railroad.

We played a game that children play in Africa. It’s pretty easy to play.

Step 1
All you need are 8-10 concentric circles on the ground, and a large and small pebble for each player.
Step 2
The first child hides the small pebble behind his/her back in one hand.

Step 3
Now the closed hands are shown to the next child who has to guess in which hand the pebble is hidden.

Step 4
If the child has guessed correctly, he/she can move his large pebble one circle closer to the center.
Then this child hides the smaller pebble and lets the next child guess, and so on.

The winner is whose pebble reaches the center of the circles first.

Another game we played is called Dara. This one is a little more involved and a little more fun for the adults.

Step 1
If you are playing just one other person, take turns to place a counter anywhere on the game board until all counters have been put there. Whilst this is happening neither player can remove each other’s counters. Neither side can have more than three counters in a row at any one time. This is illegal!

Step 2
Take turns to move a counter into an adjacent empty square. The counters cannot be moved diagonally but can be moved up, down or sideways. The aim is to make three counters sit in a row (but not a diagonal one).

Step 3
When a player manages to make three counters in a row, they can remove one of their opponent’s counters. A player can only remove one counter from their opponent in any one go, even if more than one row of three counters is created in a move.

Step 4
The game is over when a player is unable to make three in a row with his or her counters. Their opponent wins when this happens.


The kids also weaved together a blanket based on typical African clothes designs with different colors and patterns.

I made up a game based on the books we read about the Underground Railroad and the kids loved it! It goes like this:

Step 1
The slave master goes and hides two items, a quilt and a light (typically used on the Underground Railroad to signal when it’s safe). When it’s time to go the master closes his eyes and counts to 10. The slaves run away to find the quilt or light. If they can find it in that time, they’re safe. If not, they return to the south and have to start again.

Step 2
The slave master closes his/her eyes again and counts to 10. The slaves have to find the other safe house, quilt or light. Again, if they can’t find it they return to the south.

Step 3
If they’ve found both, then the master counts again and they have to make it to a designated place in the house which is the free land. We used Canada as the Fugitive Slave Law was in effect during this time and even if slaves could reach the north they had to be returned home. So Canada was the only safe place. If they made it to Canada, they were free!


We talked about where the free and slave states were that eventually led right up to the Civil War and how the Underground Railroad was set up help them escape slavery in the south.

See our other American History units:
The Vikings
Christopher Columbus & The Explorers
The Roanoke & Jamestown Colonies
The Plymouth Colony
The Revolutionary War
Slavery in America
The Civil War

Author: Olivia

I am a mom and a homeschooling teacher of two little ones. I am also a Biblical Studies major with a hobby in Creation Science. I love to research Biblical topics and how science and the Bible live in harmony with each other. I learn beside my children when we read, build, and explore with the help of our glorious classroom - God's green Earth!

One thought on “Slavery in America ~ Early American History”

  1. Wonderful new books on the underground railroad! I’m sure that was a fun and fascinating study; to understand what it was like to be a slave then.

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