1 (207) Follow the Drinking Gourd Teacher s Guide Page 1 Follow the Drinking Gourd Teacher s Guide The following Teacher s Guide is designed to help you better prepare your students for the upcoming presentation of Follow the Drinking Gourd when the Northern Stars Planetarium visits your school in the near future. Please be aware that not all the material in this guide may be appropriate for every age level. This presentation is provided for a variety of grade levels, please use only the material that you feel is appropriate for your students. Follow the Drinking Gourd was originally produced by : The New Jersey State Museum Planetarium and Raritan Valley Community College Planetarium Funding for the production of this presentation was generously provided by : Martin Marietta Astro Space and Friends of the New Jersey State Museum. The planetarium show follows and explores the fictional story Follow the Drinking Gourd, written by Jeanette Winter and published in 1988 by Dragonfly Books, a division of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. of New York. Escaping Slavery in the United States during the Early 1800 s During the era of slavery in the United States, many slaves fled to freedom in the North. In order to reduce the numbers of escaping slaves, slave owners kept slaves illiterate and totally ignorant of geography. They even tried to keep slaves from learning how to tell directions. Nevertheless, slaves knew perfectly well freedom lay to the north, and they knew how to locate north. They used the North Star, or as it is properly named, Polaris. Polaris lies almost directly north in the sky. Slaves fled using the simple direction walk towards the North Star. However, unable to plan a route, they risked walking into impassable or dangerous terrain. A secret network of people was established to help slaves escape slavery. This network came to be know as the Underground Railroad. Members of the Underground Railroad were aware of the dangers awaiting runaway slaves. About 1831 the Railroad began to send travellers into the South to secretly teach slaves specific routes they could navigate using Polaris. By the beginning of the Civil War in 1861, about 500 people per year were travelling in the South teaching routes to slaves, and well established escape routes had been made. Scholars estimate that 60,000 to 100,000 slaves successfully fled to freedom. Polaris became a symbol of freedom to slaves as well as a guide star. As soon as they were old enough to understand, slave children were taught to locate Polaris by using the stars of the Big Dipper. Slaves passed the travel instructions from plantation to plantation often by song. (continued on page 2)
2 (207) Follow the Drinking Gourd Teacher s Guide Page 2 Escaping Slavery in the United States during the Early 1800 s (continued) Slaves brought from the tribal cultures of Africa the custom of creating songs to transmit factual information. In America slaves turned songs into codes that secretly transmitted information they wished to keep from their white masters. Follow the Drinking Gourd is a coded song that gives the route for an escape from Alabama and Mississippi. Of all the routes out of the Deep South, this is the only one for which the details survive. The route instructions were given to slaves by an old man named Peg Leg Joe. Working as an itinerant carpenter, he spent winters in the South, moving from plantation to plantation, teaching slaves this escape route. Unfortunately, we know nothing more about Peg Leg Joe. The song and its translation are as follows: When the sun comes back and the first quail calls, For the old man is awaiting for to carry you to freedom, If you follow the Drinking Gourd. When the sun comes back means winter and spring when the altitude of the Sun is higher each day at noon. Quail are a migratory bird that winters in the South. The Drinking Gourd is the Big Dipper. The old man is Peg Leg Joe. The verse tells the slaves to leave in the winter and walk towards the Big Dipper. Leaving in winter made good sense, days were shorter and nights longer, which translates to mean less time to hide and more time to move, since all movement was done under the cover of darkness. Eventually they will meet a guide who will escort them for the remainder of the trip. The song continues: The river bank makes a very good road, The dead trees will show you the way, Left foot, peg foot, travelling on, This verse taught slaves to follow the banks of the Tombigbee River north looking for dead trees that were marked with drawings of a left foot and a peg foot. The markings distinguished the Tombigbee River from other north-south rivers that flow in the region. The river ends between two hills, There s another river on the other side, These words told the slaves that when they reached the headwaters of the Tombigbee River, they were to continue north over the hills until they met another river. Then they were to travel north along the new river which is the Tennessee River. A number of the southern escape routes converged on the Tennessee River. Where the great big river meets the little river, For the old man is awaiting to carry you to freedom if you This verse told the slaves the Tennessee River joined another river. They were to cross that river (which is the Ohio River), and on the north bank, meet a guide from the Underground Railroad who would give them further instructions for the rest of the journey.
3 (207) Follow the Drinking Gourd Teacher s Guide Page 3 Vocabulary Abolitionist: A person who wanted to end slavery. Constellation: A group of stars that forms a dot-to-dot picture in the sky. Drinking Gourd: The Big Dipper. Free States: The states of the north that did not allow slavery. Included: Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, California Gourd: The fruit of a vine, similar to a squash or pumpkin, though usually smaller. Gourds were often hollowed out and dried and then used as a drinking utensil. Latitude: A measure of distance north or south of the equator, measured in degrees. The equator equals 0 and the north pole is 90. Each degree equals one nautical mile. Plantation: A large farm in the southern United States for growing usually cotton or tobacco. Most of the work done on plantations was done by slaves who were owned by the Master of the Plantation. Polaris: The actual name of the North Star. Quail: A small game bird that lives in the northern United States and southern Canada during the summer months, but migrates to the southern U.S. during the winter months. Safe House: The house of a member of the Underground railroad. It was a place where escaping slaves were safe to rest during their long trip north to freedom. Slavery: Forcing people to do work for another without pay. In slavery, people become property that could be bought and sold. Slave States: The states of the south that allowed slavery. Included: Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware, Missouri. The Master : The owner of a slave or many slaves. Tombigbee River: A river that runs south through the states of Mississippi and Alabama. It was a major route of the underground railroad for slaves from Alabama and Mississippi. Underground Railroad: A network of houses and individuals that helped slaves escape to the north. They provided shelter, hiding places, food, and clothing to runaway slaves. They also directed them to safe pathways and helped to carry them along this path. It was said that the safe houses were lined along the pathways from the south to the north like cars in a secret underground railroad.
4 (207) Follow the Drinking Gourd Teacher s Guide Page 4 The Song: Follow the Drinking Gourd When the sun comes back and the first quail calls, For the old man is awaiting for to carry you to freedom, If you follow the Drinking Gourd. Chorus: Follow the Drinking Gourd, Follow the Drinking Gourd, For the old man is awaiting to carry you to freedom If you follow the Drinking Gourd. The river bank makes a very good road, The dead trees will show you the way, Left foot, peg foot, travelling on, The river ends between two hills, There s another river on the other side, (Chorus) Where the great big river meets the little river, For the old man is awaiting to carry you to freedom If you (Chorus)
5 (207) Follow the Drinking Gourd Teacher s Guide Page 5 Plotting the Underground Railroad on a Map Fill in the blank information using the map provided on the next page. Position Location Latitude Distance Travelled State or Country 1 Mouth of the Tombigbee River 0 miles 2 Northernmost point on the Tombigbee River 3 The Point of the Tennessee River Closest to the Tombigbee 4 Where the Tennesse River meets the Ohio River 5 Northernmost point of the Ohio River 6 South shore of Lake Erie 7 Canada-just north of Lake Erie 1. Find Positions 1 through 7 on the map. Place an X to mark each spot on the map. 2. Notice that the rivers are blue on the map. 3. Trace the state borders along the dotted lines with a pencil. 4. Label the names of the states. DO NOT COLOR THE STATES! 5. Using a red crayon, connect the X s with a single line from south to north. This is the route of the Underground Railroad followed in the story of 6. Color the free states light blue, the slave states gray, and Canada green. 7. Write the name of the state each of the seven positions are in on the chart above. More Advanced Questions: 8. Find the approximate latitude of each of the seven positions and write your findings in the chart above. 9. Every degree of latitude = 60 miles. Using the latitudes you found in question 8, determine how many miles travelled to each position from the last. Add up the total mileage for a complete trip on the underground railroad. Remember, most of this trip was done walking. Think about what it was like to have to walk that far.
6 (207) Follow the Drinking Gourd Teacher s Guide Page 6 The Eastern United States During Slavery Era CANADA 44 Superior 42 Huron Ontario Michigan Erie Ohio River Mississippi River Tennessee River Tombigbee River ATLANTIC OCEAN GULF OF MEXICO
7 (207) Follow the Drinking Gourd Teacher s Guide Page 7 Big Dipper, Little Dipper & Polaris--the North Star Connect the stars and see how they are oriented to each other! 3 2 Polaris, The North Star Little Dipper The Pointer Stars always point to the North Star 6 7 Pointer Stars Big Dipper 5
8 (207) Follow the Drinking Gourd Teacher s Guide Page 8 Follow the Drinking Gourd Word Search Find the following words hidden in the puzzle: (some words you will find more than once!) REWARD FLEE FAMILY SCARED NIGHT SUN CLUES SAFEHOUSE RUN ESCAPE CABIN RIVER HIDE MASTER WAGON TRAIL SLAVERY TRAVEL FIELD COTTON BRUTALITY DRINKING GOURD PLANTATION BIG DIPPER CONSTELLATION RAILROAD NORTH UNDERGROUND GO STAR CANADA SOUTH SONG PEG LEGGED JOE BRAVE WALK SOLD NO MONEY SKY FREE T B R C F S N F N G H I D E T W R S A O I L C M R I V E R F X A A A I N E S C A P E Z J I A P L I F L S L A V E R Y E P N M E K L E R T D S O N G E? L K I G R T H O E N I G H T Z D A I L L U R O A L W A G O N S U N N Y E N A U D L M A S T E R S T G C G H V S N A N O R T H F K A G A G I E E D T S O L D C L Y T O B E D L S B I G D I P P E R I U I D E? T C O T T O N Z E H O R N J F T A U N D E R G R O U N D G O R B R U T A L I T Y C L U E S E E C A N A D A X T S O U T H J T E X W A L K A N D W A L K A N D! Z L I I N O $ K B R A V E V P A
9 (207) Follow the Drinking Gourd Teacher s Guide Page 9 Coloring Page Write a caption to this picture in the lines below the picture.
10 (207) Follow the Drinking Gourd Teacher s Guide Page 10 Bibliography Juvenile books marked with *. *Armstrong, Jennifer. Steal Away, Orchard Books, Chicago, Blockson, Charles L. The Underground Railroad First Person Narratives of Escapes to Freedom in the North, Prentice Hall Press, New York, Contains slave narratives about being a slave and escaping. Blockson, Charles L. Hippocrene Guide to the Underground Railroad, Hippocrene Books, New York, Lists all known Underground Railroad sites and contains words and music of additional code songs. Buckmaster, Henrietta. Let My People Go, Harper & Brothers, New York, Little is known about how the underground railroad worked in the south, but this book investigates this subject well. It emphasizes the use of Polaris-the North Star. *Cosner, Sharon. The Underground Railroad, Frankling Watts, New York, *Goodman, Arthur. Black Bondage: The Life of Slaves in the South, Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, New York, Haley, Alex. Roots, Doubleday and Company, Inc., New York, Film version by Warner Bros., 1977 (available on video). *Hamilton, Virginia. Anthony Brown: The Defeat and Triumph of a Fugitive Slave, Knopf, *Hapinson, Deborah. Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt, Knopf, *Krupp, E.C. The Big Dipper and You, Morrow & Co., New York, A good book for children about the legends, lore, and astronomy associated with the Big Dipper. *Munjo, F.N. The Drinking Gourd, Harper Collins, New York, Rall, Gloria, The Stars Of Freedom in the February issue of Sky and Telescope, Ross, Alexander Milton. Recollections and Experiences of an Abolitionist, Rawsell & Hutchinson, Toronto, Reprint: Metro Books, Inc., Northbrook, Illinois, The author was one of those people who travelled the south to teach slaves escape routes. This is his memoir. Stowe, Harriet Beecher, Uncle Tom s Cabin, Hougton Mifflin Co., A fictional account of slave life that helped to end slavery. *Turner, Glennette. Running for Our Lives, Holiday House, New York, *Winter, Jeanette. Follow the Drinking Gourd, Alfred Knopf, New York, 1988.
11 (207) Follow the Drinking Gourd Teacher s Guide Page 11 Planetarium Program Evaluation After the Northern Stars Planetarium has visited your class, please take a moment to fill out this evaluation. Your suggestions are very valuable to us! Mail the completed evaluation to :...Northern Stars Planetarium 15 Western Ave. Fairfield, Maine Or To 1. Show Name: 2. Group grade/age level: 3. Was the material presented at an appropriate level for your class? 4. Was the amount of material discussed: Enough Overwhelming Not Enough 5. Should any parts of the presentation be developed further?. If so, which parts? 6. Was there sufficient time for questions and answers? Yes No 7. Were you studying astronomy or another related subject at the time of the planetarium s visit? Yes No If so, was the planetarium visit helpful? 8. Was the Teacher s Guide helpful in preparing your class for the planetarium visit? Yes No Which parts were most helpful? Which parts were least helpful? 9. Did the presenter present the material in a clear and understandable fashion? 10. How would you rate the overall program given to your class in the planetarium? 11. (Optional) Your name & school: Thank you for your time! Please feel free to write any further comments on the back. Your Comments Make a Difference!
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