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The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in 1930 and lasted until the late 1930s or middle 1940s. It was the longest, deepest, and most widespread depression of the 20th century. See the fact file below for more information and facts about the Great Depression.
- Herbert Hoover was president when the Great Depression began. He declared in March 1930, that the U.S. had “passed the worst” and argued that the economy would sort itself out. The worst, however, had just begun and would last until the outbreak of World War II in 1939.
- The causes of the Great Depression are widely debated. There was no single cause, but several things when working together made it happen. A weak banking system, over-production of goods, over spending, and bursting credit bubble were just some of the reasons. The Wall Street Crash of 1929 was one of the main causes of the Great Depression. This stock market crash was the most devastating crash in the history of the United States. On “Black Tuesday,” October 29, 1929, the stock market lost $14 billion, making the loss for that week an astounding $30 billion. It took 23 years for the stock market to hit the high it was at before the crash.
- As news of the stock market crash spread, customers rushed to their banks to withdraw their money, causing disastrous “bank runs.” People who had been very wealthy lost everything they had and some committed suicide. Many companies went out of business and huge numbers of people lost their jobs. At the peak of the depression, 1 out of every 4 people were without a job. Between 1930 and 1935, nearly 750,000 farms were lost through bankruptcy or sheriff sales.
- People who lost their homes often lived in what were called “Hoovervilles,” or shanty towns, that were named after President Herbert Hoover. There was also “Hoover Stew” which was the name for food handed out to the poor at soup kitchens. “Hoover Blankets” were newspapers that were being used to cover people like a blanket. “Hoover Hogs” were jack rabbits that were used for food, and “Hoover Wagons” were broken down cars that were pulled by mules.
- Some people who became homeless would ride on railroad cars, because they didn’t have money to travel. Some believe that more than 50,000 people were injured or killed while jumping trains. Many of these people traveled together and were called hobos.
- Almost half of the children who were living in the United States at that time did not have enough food, shelter, or medical care. Many suffered diseases. By the 1930s, thousands of schools were operating on reduced hours or were closed down entirely. Some three million children had left school, and at least 200,000 took to riding the rails either with their parents or as orphans.
- African Americans, Native Americans, Mexican Americans and women were bitterly discriminated and the hardest hit during the Great Depression. They were looked at as the groups that could take jobs away from white men. The Great Depression also changed the family in several ways. Many couples delayed getting married, and divorce rates and birth rates dropped. Some men also abandoned their families. A 1940 poll revealed that 1.5 million married women had been abandoned by their husbands.
- Severe drought and dust storms made the Great Depression even worse, because it dried out farmlands and forced families to leave their farms. On May 9, 1934, a dust storm carried about 350 million tons of dirt 2,000 miles eastward and dumped four million tons of prairie dirt in Chicago. The drought and dust killed tens of thousands of animals and some people.
- The board game Monopoly, which first became available in 1935, became popular because players could become rich during the playing of the game. The “Three Little Pigs“was seen as a symbol of the Great Depression, with the wolf representing the Depression and the three little pigs representing average citizens who eventually succeeded by working together.
- Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) became president in March 1933, and promised a “New Deal for the American people.”
The Great Depression Worksheets
This bundle includes 11 ready-to-use Great Depression worksheets that are perfect for students to learn about the Great Depression which was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II.
Throughout the extensive worksheet pack there are multiple lesson resources and quizzes for students to practice their knowledge which can be used within the classroom or homeschooling environment.
Included Great Depression worksheets:
Americans named many of the products of hardship in the Great Depression after Herbert Hoover. Students are tasked to identify what each of these terms mean.
The Great Depression Crossword
Crossword filler task based on what they have learnt in the fact file.
Students are tasked with studying the Hoovervilles worksheet and then answering a number of challenging questions.
Fantastic task on the Hobo Symbols of the Great Depression. Students are challenged to invent their own symbols.
Fun activity! Dorothea Lange was a famous photographer within the Great depression who captured suffering imagery. Students are challenged to write their thoughts on her photos.
The Great Depression Quiz
Fill in the blanks worksheet based upon information from the fact worksheet.
A Budget in the Great Depression
Fantastic worksheet where students have to budget as if they were living within the Great Depression.
A Budget in the Great Depression Reflection
Budget reflection sheet where students are challenged to get emotive on the sacrifices which needed to be made.
The Great Depression Hidden Message Word Search
Word search filler task.
Roosevelt and the New Deal
Study worksheet on Roosevelt & The New deal followed by a fun poster task.
After completing these worksheets students will be able to:
- Have a clear understanding about the history of the Great depression and how it impacted on ordinary peoples lives.
- Complete a number of quiz and fill in the blank activities to test their knowledge of the subject.
- Explain the challenges normal citizens faced throughout the great depression, the sacrifices they made and how they overcome such problems.
- Have a key understanding of Herbert Hoover & Hooverville.
- Understand Hobo Symbols and have the ability to create their own.
- Successfully create a budget sheet and reflect on their sheet; exploring the emotive side of the Great depression.
- Take information learnt and simplify within poster format.
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. If you need Great Depression worksheets for your classroom, you can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.