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Lesson Plans
Hard Times, Soft Sell
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students


Using online content from the AMERICAN VISIONS episode entitled Streamlines and Breadlines as a jumping-off point, students will explore the social, political, and artistic climate of the 1930s' Great Depression and identify themes that permeated the zeitgeist of that era. Using online, software, video, and multimedia resources, students will investigate diverse people's experiences of the Depression, conduct surveys and interviews, and create and publish a variety of media highlighting Depression-era motifs and resources.

Grade Level:

9-12

Subject Matter:

Social Studies

Curricular Uses:

American history, art history, English, government studies, design, technology

Learning Objectives



Students will be able to:

  • define the word "zeitgeist" and illustrate examples of the concept to describe historical periods.

  • research and identify major social, political, and artistic themes of the 1930s.

  • identify and contrast ideological and other motifs that run through the art, political thinking, social movements, and popular culture of the era.

  • learn and practice interviewing and research skills.

  • understand the value of oral histories and material culture for illuminating historical periods.

  • practice writing, design, computer, and other skills in the development of print, online, or multimedia portfolios.

  • create and design multimedia portfolios that illustrate the themes and experiences of the 1930s.


    This lesson was developed by Sarah Feldman, NTTI National Project Director.