Hands-on Canadian History: Underground Railroad – Find The North Star

In an attempt to be free, black slaves in the southern states made a dangerous and difficult journey north to Canada on the Underground Railroad, running from their owners and the slave hunters. The experiences they faced would have been terrifying, but so incredibly full of hope.

Escape: A Night Time Hide And Seek Game

What you need:

  •  empty toilet roll tube
  • dark construction paper
  •  a pin or awl to poke holes
  •  a clear night sky

The North Star is a constant fixture in the Northern Hemisphere sky, which makes it a great landmark for anyone looking for direction. An easy way to find this star is to first find the Big Dipper constellation.
In this activity, you are first going to use a flashlight to create a model Big Dipper to shine on your wall so you become familiar with how it looks, and then you will go outside and find it for yourself. Then, using that constellation, you will find the North Star.

1. Print out the Big Dipper Template. Glue it onto a piece of dark-coloured construction paper and cut out.
2. Using a thick piece of cardboard as a base, poke a pin through the dots on the template. Tape to one end of the toilet roll tube.
3. Look through the other end of the tube, facing a window or a light. The pinholes should allow light through, giving you a model constellation.
4. Find the edge of the “dipper” or “ladle” part of the scoop away from the handle. If you followed them in a straight line and kept going, you would end up finding the North Star.

Now, on a clear night, head outside and look at the stars in the sky. Can you find the Big Dipper? Follow the edge of the dipper until you get to a bright star. That’s the North Star!

See all 31 Days of  Hands-on Canadian History.


2 thoughts on “Hands-on Canadian History: Underground Railroad – Find The North Star”

  1. Thank you for all the resources you are creating and sharing with this series! Since you asked for ideas, I’ll mention that I would love to see some resources for this topic that focus on the Canadian aspect of things. There are many, many good quality resources looking at the Underground Railroad, but few that I have found that focus on Canada – why it was the end goal of the Underground Railroad, where in the country the escaped slaves settled, what they found once they arrived (most simply stop at the “getting there” point), how they made their living, what attitudes were like toward escaped slaves, the type of culture their descendants have now and how it is different from the descendants of those slaves who did not escape (in U.S.), etc.

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