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Virtual Johnson House

Welcome to the Virtual Johnson House Page! Here you will find everything you need to teach about Johnson House and prepare for your Live Google Meet/ ZOOM Session. Below you will find the workbook page numbers to assign, the VR House Tour, mini video lessons, and additional resources that you can download the files/ copy the links and include them on your Google Classroom Page. 

Workbook 2017 Edition

Johnson House Pages 71- 86

Workbook 2020 Edition

Johnson House Pages 68- 84

JH Front of House.png

Organizational Charts 

Students can use an organizational chart to help them take notes while reading the workbook section and watching the VR Tour. Students can refer to their notes during the Live Session with the Educator or while completing their post-visit Reporter Assignments.

KWL Chart- Students will write what they already know and what they want to know about the Underground Railroad before reading the workbook section. Then, they can write what they learned during or after reading the workbook.

Notes, Key Points & Summary Chart - Students can use this chart to take notes while reading the workbook or watching the VR Tour. After they take notes, they can pull out main points from their notes and summarize what they learned in a few sentences. (Standards 4th Grade: CC.1.2.4.A; CC1.4.4.W.   5th Grade: CC.1.2.5.A; CC.1.4.4.W.)

Remaining Questions- Encourage students to write 1 or 2 questions that they still have after reading the workbook and watching the VR tour. Teachers can email their students' remaining questions to the Program Director  after their Live Session, if the Educator does not have time to answer all questions.

Johnson House VR Tour

Make sure students watch the museum tour prior to your scheduled live meeting with History Hunters Educators.

How to view: This video was recorded with a 360-degree camera. Click and drag the video around to look all over the room!

Assignment options: If time allows, you can assign the entire video (24:47). Here is a suggestion on how to assign the video in segments:


Intro: 0:00- 5:00

Kitchen: 5:00- 7:05

Garret: 7:05- 9:37

Map Room: 9:37- 13:09

Meeting Room: 13:09- 20:02

Upstairs: 20:02- 24:47

English Tour

Spanish Tour

 Activities/ Lesson Plans

Stories from the Underground Railroad- This pdf contains stories of enslaved Africans seeking their freedom that we usually read and map out at the Johnson House. Ideas on how to assign in class: 1) Assign students a story and have them plot the points on Google Maps or the map in the workbook. Students can share their map and tell the class about the individual's journey.  2) Assign students a story and have them write an interview between William Still and the enslaved Africans seeking their freedom- What questions would he ask? What information can he gather? What information is still unknown?

Female Leaders of the Abolitionists/Anti Slavery Movements- Students can read the Pdf about 4 female leaders and then complete the activity. Based on the paragraphs you have read, there are five facts below about each female abolitionist that are correct and five facts that belong to another female abolitionist. Place the initials of each abolitionist next to each fact that is true about them. Answer Sheet

Scholastic Underground Railroad Resources-   This website contains lesson plans, teaching guides, discussions guides, and interactive activities related to the history of the Underground Railroad for grades 3-5 and 6-8.

The Underground Rail Road by William Still- The Smithsonian Libraries offers a complete online edition of Still's book published in 1872.

Primary Source: William Still's Journal- The Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Digital Library contains photos of Journal C of the Underground Railroad in Philadelphia kept by William Still : containing notices of arrivals of fugitive slaves in Philadelphia with descriptions of their flight, 1852-1857.

National Geographic Resource Library- This page contains links to resources to teach more about significant figures in the abolition movement, the causes of the Civil War, and how slavery sustained the agricultural economy in the United States for centuries.

National Geographic Underground Railroad Map- This page includes a map of the routes to freedom, background info, and vocabulary terms. 

National Geographic Underground Railroad Encyclopedic Entry- This page for 5-8 grade includes a short reading about the Underground Railroad along with Vocabulary terms and a photo of a station stop in Ohio.

National Geographic Lesson for Grades 1 and 2- "How Enslaved People Found Their Way North"- Students learn about natural and human-made clues that helped enslaved people find their way north through the Underground Railroad. Then they create a quilt with clues about routes to freedom.

National Geographic Article- "Key Figures in the Abolitionist Movement" for grades 5 and up

PBS Underground Railroad Educator Resources- This guide accompanies the PBS documentary "Underground Railroad: The William Still Story" and includes reading materials and 5 lesson plans.

PBS "Africans in America: The Terrible Transformation" - The Narrative orients you to the history and historical resources of this era. The Resource Bank provides annotated images and documents, stories, biographics, and commentaries. The Teacher's Guide helps you use the web site and TV series in U.S. history courses.

National Parks Service- 'The Network to Freedom' integrates local historical places, museums, and interpretive programs associated with the Underground Railroad. This page includes essays to a variety of related topics, stories of enslaved Africans seeking their freedom, a timeline,  and an interactive map, and an article about The Drinking Gourd.

National Parks Service Junior Park Ranger Activity Booklet- includes readings and activities about the Underground Railroad

Smithsonian Magazine Article- "The Great Escape From Slavery of Ellen and William Craft"

Temple University: "William Still: An African American Abolitionist"-  classroom resources created by Dr. Diane D. Turner and Aslaku Berhanu of the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection at Temple University Libraries, along with educators from the Constitution High School in Philadelphia.  The goal of these activities and resources is to provide information for K-12 teachers and students about the abolitionist movement, the Underground Railroad, the experience of African-Americans living in 19th Century Philadelphia and the African-American participants in the American Civil War.  All of the resources focus upon helping students to increase their skills in historical research and critical thinking.

Underground Railroad Digital Classroom- Dickinson College collection of Underground Railroad lesson plans for all grade levels.

Teacher Resources

National Museum of African American History and Culture-  The Smithsonian’s "Talking About Race" webpage contains resources for educators and parents on talking to children about race.

The Journey to Emancipation: the Germantown Protest, 1688- National Museum of African American History and Culture article about our local history.

Colonial Williamsburg- Resources for Understanding Race and Inequality Through History.

Colonial Williamsburg: Slavery and Remembrance- A guide to sites, museums, and memory. This link brings you to an article about resistance to slavery, but the website covers many other topics.

PBS Africans in American- Articles, Teacher Guides and Lesson Plans available about freedom and resistance in Philadelphia.


Billy Penn article- "William Penn kept enslaved people. These are some of their names" An important piece of Pennsylvania’s founder’s legacy.

"Quakers and the Underground Railroad: Myths and Realities"- By Christopher Densmore

First Protest Against Slavery Historical Marker- Information about the 1688 Germantown Protest

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center- Teacher Resources


PBS The Underground Railroad: The William Still Story- Underground Railroad: The Williams Still Story is the story of a humble Philadelphia clerk who risked his life shepherding runaway slaves to freedom in the tumultuous years leading up to America’s Civil War. William Still was the director of a complex network of abolitionists, sympathizers and safe houses that stretched from Philadelphia to what is now Southern Ontario.

Global Philadelphia's Heritage Storytime Episode 2: Philly has a Dream for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - Episode recording includes Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s inspiring “I Have a Dream” speech, read from a book with beautiful illustrations by Caldecott Honor winning artist Kadir Nelson. Dr. King’s powerful message of freedom and equality for all people will be explored further with a virtual tour of the Johnson House, presented in partnership with History Hunters. We’ll learn all about the people who fought for racial justice in Philadelphia in this Underground Railroad Station and House Museum. We’ll also present opportunities for service-learning during the MLK Day of Service and provide additional teaching resources and ideas for exploring the episode’s themes. Episode Resource Guide available here.

Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story From The Underground Railroad Storytime- 8:52 minute video -  Henry's Freedom Box is based on the true story of Henry Brown's creative and courageous journey to freedom! This book was written by Ellen Levine and was beautifully illustrated by Kadir Nelson.

"Black History in Philly? We got You" - In this Visit Philadelphia video Tarik and lifestyle editor Cory Townes check out the iconic Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church in Philadelphia’s Historic District and The Johnson House.

African Songs and Clapping Games- This pdf contains the lyrics and movement instructions for two songs: "Tua Tua" and "Kye Key Kula". Here is a YouTube video so you can sing and clap along with Tua Tua.  There are 2 YouTube videos for Kye Kye Kula: Video 1 contains the music with suggested movements.  Video 2 is longer, but teaches about the origin of the song along with the lyrics and movements. 

Follow the Drinking Gourd- This will be the focus of the Virtual Session, but if your class wants to revisit the song after the lesson, this is the version we use. Here is another version by Richie Havens with visuals 

Rhiannon Giddens featuring Yo-Yo Ma - "Build A House"- This song premiered on June 19, 2020 and discusses the history of slavery in America up to the present day. This modern song can be used to begin a discussion with students about slavery's lasting impact.

Sankofa Read Aloud YouTube Channel- Online African American Children Stories including Before She Was Harriet, Moses,  Fredrick's Journey, and Light in the Darkness. 

Harriet Tubman & The Underground Railroad Mural Tour- This video tour, led by Historic Fair Hill Guide Carolyn Singleton, discusses Harriet Tubman, William Still, Henry "Box" Brown, and other abolitionists depicted on the Germantown Avenue mural.

Disorder (1820-1854) - Philadelphia: The Great Experiment- 30 minute video - In the decades before the Civil War, the city we know as Philadelphia was divided into 29 independent towns and districts. With no unified police, fire, or political authority, chaos ruled the streets. Riots over slavery, jobs, and religion became the norm during the most violent period in the city's history. See the dreamers attempting to hold on to the revolutionary past, the firebrands who challenge the city to rise up against slavery, and the mobs who threaten to destroy it all. Whose Philadelphia will survive?  Teacher/Student materials connected to the video available here.

Brain Pop- (subscription required) videos, quizzes, worksheets related to the Underground Railroad.

History Hunters Video Series: "What the Heck is This?"

Get an up-close look at Johnson House objects. Can you decide how they were used?

Johnson House #1 - Take a look at the imperfections in the doors at Johnson House. What caused them? How does this connect the Johnson House to another History Hunters' site? Find out in this video.

Johnson House #2 - Take a look inside the Johnson's bedroom. What is this object by the fireplace? Find out in this video.

Johnson House #3 - Take a look at the kitchen door. Why is it in two parts? Find out in this video.

Johnson House #4 - What is a Drinking Gourd? What does it have to do with the Underground Railroad? Find out in this video.

Johnson House #5 - Take a look at the portraits on the walls. What do these people have in common? Find out in this video.

Johnson House #6 - Take a look at a portrait of Harriet Tubman. What can we learn about her life as a Conductor on the Underground Railroad? Find out in this video.

Johnson House #7- What are these History Hunters Educators doing? Find out and clap along in this video.

Reporter Assignments 

There are 7 different types of newspaper features listed below for your student reporters. You may choose to assign several students to each type of feature, or have students work in groups to complete the 7 assignments. Read over the assignments carefully with students before your virtual tour, so that they understand their own particular "fact-finding" mission. They will use the notes from their virtual visit to complete their newspaper writing assignment as a post-visit activity. These assignments are available in the workbook or below as Google Docs.

1. Travel writer's account 

2. News Story

3. Interview

4. Illustration

5. Editorial

6. Comics

7. Poem

Additional Assessments 

Johnson House Vocab Quiz- Google Doc, Answer Sheet, and Google Form

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