Labor Day (5-8)

Labor Day (5-8)

I can explain the history of Labor Day and the significance of the holiday.

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Labor Day (5-8)

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Use this presentation to help students understand the Labor Day holiday and its origins. In this lesson, students learn about early labor movements. They will explore the movement to improve working conditions and the significance of events like the Pullman Strike and the Haymarket Affair. Students also reflect on their own work-life balance and on the job they would like to have in the future. The lesson includes an informative video, a crossword puzzle, a printable graphic organizer, and a writing task in which students describe their ideal job.

Learning Objective

Students will be able to explain the history of labor movements and describe the origins of the Labor Day holiday.




First, ask students how they spend their free time. Do they feel like they have a good balance of work and play? Introduce the Labor Day holiday and explain that it honors workers and the rights they have fought for over the years. Explain what ‘labor’ is and discuss some occupations like “paramedic” and “lawyer.” What skills and education would be needed to be successful in those jobs? You might assign a specific job to a group of students and have them discuss these questions together.


Watch the video about the history of Labor Day and discuss it as a class. Next, discuss the terrible working conditions of the late 1800s. Have students analyze the anti-child labor poster displayed on the board. After this, go over the significance of the events of the Haymarket Affair and the Pullman Strike, and discuss the actions of President Grover Cleveland.

Complete the Labor Day crossword puzzle by reading the clues and dragging the letters to the correct box. Then review by filling in the graphic organizer, listing the Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How? of Labor Day. There is a printable worksheet available for this activity. Finally, students think about their ideal job and write a written response to several questions.

Teaching Tips

The lesson includes material appropriate for grades 5-8. Feel free to save this lesson and customize it to fit the needs of your classroom.

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