Want a Drink, Anybody? (Temperance)

Lesson Plan

Grade Level:

Grade 8 American History

Ohio Academic Content Standards:

History 1 – Primary and secondary sources are used to examine events from multiple perspectives and to present and defend a position.

Geography 16 – Cultural biases, stereotypes and prejudices had social, political and economic consequences for minority groups and the population.

Government 19 – Informed citizens understand how media and communication technology influence public opinion.

Duration of Lesson:

Two to three 45 minute class periods

Learning Objectives:

-The students will interpret messages portrayed in cartoons from the 1800s

-The students will analyze a book from the 1880s and determine the author’s purpose

-The students will generate an original piece of writing

Lesson Summary:

In this lesson students will evaluate several primary source documents which

originated during the Temperance Movement as they explore ways that society and its prejudices

influence civic development.


-Approx. 10 minutes

-Ask students to generate (with their seat neighbors) a list of people/institutions that influence a person’s attitudes about alcohol use

-Possible answers: family, peers, church, media

-From student lists, generate a master list on the board

-Now, ask students (as a group) to think of specific examples of ways that each group exerts it influence

-Possible answers:

  1. Family
    1. -Behaviors of parents – do they drink – when and where
    2. -“House” rules
    3. -Conditions under which alcohol is kept in the house
  2. Peers
    1. -Who talks about alcohol use
    2. -Which peer groups are known for using alcohol
  3. Media
    1. -Advertising
    2. -Music
    3. -Sports advertisements
  4. Church
    1. -Rules about alcohol use and membership
    2. -Pastor’s beliefs and attitudes
    3. -Alcohol use at church functions

Ask students to think about which group has the most effectual influence and why.

Explain to students that for the next several class periods they will be exploring attitudes and beliefs about alcohol use in the mid 1800s.

Define “temperance” (the trait of avoiding excess).

Ask students to predict the definition of “Temperance Movement.”

Instructional Steps:

Part I

-Display a transparency copy of the Editorial Cartoon Analysis Worksheet or the Cartoon Analysis Worksheet (teacher preference) using the projector.

-Read through the instructions on the worksheet with the students and offer explanation when needed.

Define “symbol” if needed and offer an example – a quick and easy symbol that almost all students will recognize and identify with is the American eagle as a symbol of freedom.

-Divide the students into groups of 2-3 students each.

-Distribute copies of the cartoons so that there are an equal number of each cartoon distributed throughout the class.

-Ask students to complete the worksheet - one per group.

-Allow approximately 15 minutes for this activity.

-Ask students to return to their own seats and have a class discussion about their findings.

The Bar of Destruction

Clearly demonstrates the ill effects of alcohol use by symbolism – skeleton (death), violence in background, disorder

Outside the bar are wide-eyed children being exposed to the effects of alcohol, and “orderly” home – presumably where the man should be, but is not.

Women’s Holy War

The Temperance Movement is compared to the Crusades which were known in history as a “holy war.”

This movement was largely conducted by Christian women.

A female “warrior” is breaking open and destroying the kegs.

The flag in the background indicates that this cause is for all of humanity.

The only man in the cartoon is “fleeing” from the mighty women.

The women appear victorious.

The Fruits of Temperance

Ideal family

Happy/well fed children

“White picket fence”

Lush landscape

Prosperous town in background

Children’s proximity to the father in the illustration

Part 2

-Distribute copies of the preface of The Glorious Cause: A Collection of Songs, Hymns, and Choruses for the Earnest Temperance Worker by George F. Root.

-Read aloud the selection to the students.

-Ask students to re-read the selection with their seat partner and look for specific ideas that the author is trying to convey.

-The teacher should define the word pauperism for the students in advance if needed.

-The teacher should circulate throughout the room and guide/prompt students in their discussions.

-Students should be asked to look for specific words and/or phrases that demonstrate the author’s attitudes and beliefs towards Temperance.

-Possible discussion topics

  • Alcohol use should not simply be abandoned, it should be avoided before it begins
  • Education against the evils of alcohol must begin in youth
  • Words to identify/discuss:
    • Insanity
    • Evils
    • All/total suspension
    • Wretched victims
    • Deliverance
    • Drunkards

-Distribute copies of the song “Hush! Children, Hush” from the above book

-Ask students to read the song lyrics and summarize the theme in a sentence

-Possible answer: The song lyrics describe the anticipation that a family experiences as it waits for the father to return home and the disappointment that they experience once the family realizes that he is indeed drunk.

-Ask multiple students to share their sentences

Post Assessment

  • Ask the students to create a cartoon or short song that conveys the attitudes and beliefs that were promoted during the Temperance Movement.
  • Distribute copies of the rubrics in advance so that students can identify how they will be assessed.
  • Several minutes of brainstorming might be needed to help a class jump into this writing assignment.
  • Possible cartoon topics: children’s point of view, schoolroom “lessons” on Temperance, bar tender’s point of view, etc.
  • Possible song ideas: a child catching Mom replacing Dad’s alcohol with another substance, all of the liquor factories switching to candy production instead of making alcohol, a song written about animal characters (like a fable), a song written about a “super hero” that saves everyone from the evils of alcohol, etc.

Materials for students and teachers:

Copy of the Editorial_Cartoon_Analysis_Worksheet.pdf

Copies of the above worksheet for each student group

Rubrics for grading

2-3 copies of each of the following cartoons (enough so that each small group of 2-3 students can have one cartoon to read):

  • “Bar of Destruction”
  • “Women’s Holy War”
  • “Fruits of Temperance”

Copies of the preface of The Glorious Cause: A Collection of Songs, Hymns, and Choruses for the Earnest Temperance Worker by George F. Root for each pair of students

Copies of the song “Hush! Children, Hush” from the above book for each student