Economic Crash and Recovery

Author: Sara Chavarria
Editor: Stephanie Nardei

Time: 5 Class Periods
Make a copy of Overhead 1
Make copies of Handout 1 for each student
Materials: Textbooks
Library visit
Handout 1


In 1929, the world was going through a six month depression further aggravated by the Stock Market Crash in the United States, changing the way people lived and survived. This Explore lesson identifies the key reasons the Depression occurred and how American society and economy was affected and how the government took a pro-active approach to help the American people through the introduction of social and economic legislation.

Students will be able to:
1. Compile research notes on the Great Depression through library and internet research helping them identify why it occurred and how it affected people.

2. Students will individually research a New Deal policy and orally present their findings in order to create a class matrix on the different New Deal policies of the Great Depression.

Historical Thinking Standards

  • Standard 3E: Analyze cause-and-effect relationships and multiple causation, including the importance of the individual, the influence of ideas, and the role of chance.
  • Standard 4B: Obtain historical data
  • Standard 4C: Interrogate historical data

United States History Standards

  • Era 7 Standard 3: How the United States changed from the end of World War 1 to the eve of the Great Depression.
  • Era 8 Standard 1: The causes of the Great Depression and how it affected American society.
  • Era 8 Standard 2: How the New Deal addressed the Great Depression, transformed American federalism, and initiated the welfare state.

Teacher Background
If Applicable.

Resource Websites

Great Depression sites:



Day 1
1. Display the explorations statements from last lesson’s end (use Overhead 1).

2. Introducing Task 1: Students will research the time period and address several factors defining the period of the Great Depression. The student task is to explore why it occurred in the United States (address foreign policy and how that further aggravated our problems), how it affected people and how the movement of people within urban areas.. Using the exploration statements, compile specific instructions for research as outlined below. Write the following outline on the board while the exploration statements are still on the overhead Students must write the outline in their notes.

  1. Define the Stock Market Crash of 1929.
    Address how it aggravated a world-wide depression FURTHER.
    ii. Address how the crash affected businesses and banks.
    iii. Address how it changed the way people lived and survived.
    1. Find unemployment data
    2. Define the new role of the unions
  2. Identify how foreign policy during the Great Depression worked to the US Disadvantage.
    i. Address how the Depression in the U S affected the rest of the world.
  3. Showcase the two presidents of the time and their financial philosophies.
  4. Address how FDR’s New Deal Reform re-defined American government.
    i. Define the New Deal
    ii. Explain how the New Deal introduced social reform and the welfare state.
  5. Address the role of overproduction and under-consumption in agriculture.
  6. Define the Dust Bowl
    i. Address the role of the environment
    ii. Identify where it occurred
    iii. Address how it changed the life of some farmers

3. Introducing Task 2: Students will now further explore the New Deal. They will address how the New Deal philosophy of business and economics may have helped or hurt the recovery from the Great Depression. Display Overhead 2 (list of acts or agencies). Each student is assigned three to research.

4. Task 2 continued: Using their textbooks students identify following information for each act or agency for class presentation. Students write the questions in their notes.

  1. Why was this act or agency necessary?
  2. How was it meant to benefit American people? (Which Americans were to benefit?)
  3. Address whether it was successful or not. Explain.
  4. Give dates it was enacted and how long it lasted. Does it still exist today?

Days 2-3
5. To effectively complete the two tasks, students will visit library for 1-2 days to do research. Remind them their textbooks are also excellent resources. The following three websites also contain information: http://mars.acnet.wnec.edu/~grempel/courses/wc2/lectures/depression.html

Days 4 & 5
6. Have students exchange Task 1 work and review their answers with the class. As students answer the questions, have them fill in missing gaps or information on notes they are using. (It might be helpful if they use a different color pen from original color used for writing the notes).

7. Task 1 will be temporarily turned in to ensure it was completed by both the student note-taker and the reviewer.

8. Task 2 information will be presented by students. Each student presents one of the acts or agencies explored. As they present to the rest fill out Handout 1 for their own notes.

9. End by noting in the next lesson they will use all the knowledge they compiled to write a paper explaining life during the Great Depression.

If applicable

Embedded Assessment
Task 1 and Handout 1 can be assessed. Presentations of Task 2 data can be assessed.



PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
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