Follow the Drinking Gourd (FIAR)

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The boys and I recently finished up Follow the Drinking Gourd by Jeanette Winter for Five in a Row for school.




(Please note: this post contains lessons from the FIAR manual AND activities that were added by me.)


This is a really neat book about slaves escaping on the Underground Railroad. It uses the old song, “Follow the Drinking Gourd” and talks about how Peg Leg Joe went around and taught slaves the song in order to teach them how to escape to freedom.

The last time I did this book with my older two, we added in learning about the Civil War,  but this time I wanted to keep the focus on the Underground Railroad.

We started with reading the book and placing our story disk. Flash decided to place it on our own home state, South Carolina because we know there was slavery here.




After that, we went over a few of the Social Studies lessons on Slavery, Cotton Plantations and the Underground Railroad. Since I wanted the main focus to be on the Underground Railroad, we read through these two books during the two weeks that we worked on this book:




We started with If You Lived When There Was Slavery in America and then read  If You Traveled on the Underground Railroad. We read about 10-15 pages each day. My kids LOVE this series of books, if you’ve never heard of them they are great and we have used them a lot over the years.

We went over several Language Lessons on the second day. Analogy-we talked about how it wasn’t a real “Underground Railroad” and how they came up with the name. I showed them a copy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe and we talked about how this book was incremental in changing the way people thought about slavery. Then we learned about compound words and found the ones in the book.




For Art, we went over the Details lesson and the Texture lesson. We took our time and looked through the book at all the details and chose which page was our favorite. I love the artwork in this book, it’s very creative.

For Art we also looked up the song on youtube. These were our favorites:

Follow the Drinking Gourd

Eric Bibb-Follow the Drinking Gourd


For another Social Studies lesson, we talked about Geographic Directions. We got out our compasses and learned how to use them and practiced with them.




For Science, we learned about Star Groups and Constellations. We used several books from the library and also made an easy Big Dipper Craft, using star stickers on black construction paper and chalk.






Another Science lesson was to learn about cotton, since the slaves are picking cotton in the book. We learned about where cotton came from and how it’s grown and about Eli Whitney and the Cotton Gin.  We used this book from the library. It was a pretty good resource.




That just about finished up our 2 week study of Follow the Drinking Gourd. The boys really enjoyed this one and it was neat to be able to share with them some of the important history of our country.

The boys are moving on to Truman’s Aunt Farm next!




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2 thoughts on “Follow the Drinking Gourd (FIAR)

  1. I would like to visit the Underground Railroad Museum and National Underground Freedom Center one day. I think that they are both in Ohio somewhere.

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