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Kindergarten through Grade 4

Duration of visit: 2 hours

Supplies: Provided by the museum

Maximum class size: 50 students

Illustrations, discussions and museum artifacts will introduce students to the Atlantic Slave Trade. Information covered includes: slave ships, auctions, plantation life and the cruel punishment to which enslaved people were subjected.

Students will learn how people used the Underground Railroad to escape the cruelty of slavery. Experience what it would be like to be “shipped” in a box – see a reproduction of the crate that Henry "Box" Brown used to “mail” himself to freedom. After the discussion, students will know the codes, disguises, methods of travel and the network of people involved in these dramatic and often dangerous escapes.

Henson's life story aids students’ understanding of slavery and escape. His accounts of slavery and his accomplishments as a free man in Canada demonstrate how personal faith and courage can overcome cruelty and racism. In freedom, Henson became the spiritual leader of the Dawn Settlement, a conductor of the Underground Railroad, the founder of the British American Institute (a vocational school for former enslaved people) and a source for Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Site activities:

Survival secrets: Through the art of storytelling, an enslaved person’s quest for freedom is brought to life. The journey begins in Africa and ends in Canada through vivid stories and demonstrations. Students are given time to make a collage depicting a slave’s journey to freedom.

Free Spirit: This program is designed to stimulate the young imaginations of the students. It consists of interactive storytelling, where the students become characters in the story. Through movement and dance, the students tell an exciting story that takes them from slavery to freedom.

Slavery to freedom
Slavery to freedom
During the 19th century, thousands of enslaved and many free African-Americans fled the United States and made their way to freedom in Canada. Ontario was one of their primary destinations.
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