Lesson Plan: The Great Depression

President Herbert Hoover and the "Black Tuesday" 1929 Stock Market Crash

Emily Charnock on President Hoover and the backdrop preceding "Black Tuesday " and the stock market crash of October 1929.


The Great Depression was a severe economic depression that began in the United States following the stock market crash in October of 1929 and lasted into the late 1930s. The depression had widespread effects across the entire country with many bank failures and record high unemployment as the government struggled on the proper methods to intervene. In this lesson, students will learn about the causes and impact of the Great Depression as well as the significance of governmental policies on the crisis.



    The stock market crash of 1929 triggered the beginning of the Great Depression but additional underlying economic conditions further exacerbated the situation.

    Have students watch the following introductory video clips and answer the questions below:

    VIDEO CLIP: President Hoover and the 1929 Stock Market Crash (1:11)

    VIDEO CLIP: "Black Tuesday" Stock Market Crash of 1929 (2:11)

    • Describe the warning signs that were evident prior to the stock market crash

    • According to Professor McCatin, which factors fueled the stock market crash?

    • Why did the effects of the crash linger for so long and trigger the beginning of the Great Depression?

    Break students into groups and have each group view the following video clips. Students should take notes using the handout provided or answer the individual Bell Ringer questions, and then share their findings with the rest of the class.

    HANDOUT: Great Depression Handout (Google Doc)

  • Video Clip: The Bonus Army, Hoovervilles, and the Great Depression (2:40)

    Historian Richard Norton Smith discussed the Bonus Army and Hoovervilles during the Great Depression.

    Video Clip: Life as an Unemployed Person during the Great Depression (3:35)

    Michael Golay talked about the effects of the Great Depression in New York city during the periods of 1931-1933, including a first person account of life as an unemployed person during that time.

    Video Clip: The Great Depression Documented in Photographs (7:36)

    Library of Congress curator Beverly Brannan talked about the images taken by photographers working for the U.S. Government’s Farm Security Administration during the Great Depression.

    Video Clip: The Great Depression and Election of FDR (2:55)

    Curator Herman Eberhardt gave a tour of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum and discussed the Great Depression and its effect on the election of Franklin Roosevelt.


    After watching the videos and reporting out to the class, have students participate in a "Take a Stand" activity with the following question.

    "During an economic recession, the government should intervene in the economy to attempt to stablilize the country"

    Have students line up on a continuum based on their opinion from “Strongly Agree” to “Strongly Disagree.” Ask several students from different points on the line to share their reasoning and defend their position.


    After completing the "Take a Stand" activity, have students write an essay (or similar culminating activity) that includes the following information. Students should cite specific examples from the videos and class discussion.

    • The causes of the Great Depression
    • Its effects on everyday Americans
    • How the government initially responded to the Great Depression, and how it led to the election of FDR

    Have students research the Great Recession of 2008. Then, have them compare and contrast the effects of each on the country, as well as the response of the government either in list or essay form. Then, as a class discuss what lessons the country and government did or did not learn from the Great Depression in regards to the Great Recession of 2008.


    After completing the lesson on the Great Depression, have students complete the New Deal Lesson in order to learn about the creation of the New Deal, its impact on the Great Depression and the economy, as well as its legacy on the role of the government in the lives of the American people.

Additional Resource

  • LESSON PLAN: The New Deal

    In this lesson, students will learn about the creation of the New Deal, its impact on the Great Depression and the economy, as well as its legacy on the role of the government in the lives of the American people.


  • Black Tuesday
  • Bonus Army
  • Deflation
  • Dust Bowl
  • Economic Depression
  • Federal Reserve
  • Fiscal Policy
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  • Herbert Hoover
  • Hooverville
  • Inflation
  • New Deal
  • Recession
  • Wall Street


Economics & Financial LiteracyU.S. History


Middle SchoolHigh SchoolUniversity