The Great Depression & New Deal

A Complete Unit Plan for US History in Middle School or High School

The 15th unit in my US History curriculum covers the 1930s, specifically the Great Depression and FDR's New Deal recovery plan.

This unit will give students great insight into the intense economic challenges Americans had to endure and how the government adapted to help. Through activities, projects, and primary sources, students will develop a rich understanding of this important era in American history.

You can get all the lessons for the unit here, or use a Students of History subscription to access every lesson online.


The unit kicks off with a stock market simulation project to help students learn how the market actually works and how devastating a crash can be. Students select stocks and then follow them throughout the unit to see how they fared.

The next lesson uses a PowerPoint and guided notes (with Google Slides and "flipped classroom" video options) to cover the causes, events, and lasting effects of the Great Depression. Following this, students can either work on a webquest, complete a causes and characteristics classification worksheet, analyze one of FDR's Fireside Chats, or review several famous songs of the Great Depression.

The next lesson focuses on the Dust Bowl and the President Roosevelt's New Deal. a fascinating Dust Bowl survivor letter can serve as a warm up and discussion topic before students break off to work on a New Deal Agencies Analysis Activity. Several video clips are also available to help as well as an interactive notebook activity students can complete.

In the next lesson, students learn about Huey Long and his Share Our Wealth plan. A thorough lesson for this one features clips of speeches, reading activities, and 6 primary sources to analyze in groups, stations, or individually.

Students engage in a critical analysis activity in the next lesson as they determine whether the New Deal was an overall success or failure. Several supplemental resources are included for this lesson, including an "Alphabet Soup" Agencies reading, and worksheet on FDR's court packing plan.

The last lesson highlights Mexican Repatriation, one of the ugly aspects of this era. Between 400,000 and 2,000,000 people were deported to Mexico and it is estimated 60% were American citizens. Students analyze 8 primary and secondary sources to understand the scope of the repatriation, why is was controversial, and whether or not it was legal.

A printable or Google unit guide packet and digital notebook set can be used throughout the unit for extension activities or remediation. 

This unit on the 1930's concludes with several review activities followed by an editable test, with a Google Forms version also available for easy grading.

You can download the resources individually with the links above and also see reviews from teachers who have used them. You can download the entire unit here in a zip folder and save everything to your desktop. You can also gain access to the unit through a subscription, which grants you access to the ENTIRE US History curriculum.

If you’re unsure which option might be best for you, you can read about the differences between subscriptions and TpT purchases here.

US History Units