The Titanic was thought to be an “unsinkable” ship, but that all changed on its maiden voyage from England to New York City. Our Titanic Unit takes your students through the life of this massive ship from its construction to its legacy. Afterward, pair with our Boats and Ships Unit for a discussion on what could have been done differently to avoid this infamous disaster. Here are 5 Cross-Curricular lesson ideas to dive into this historic event.
One of the biggest problems with icebergs is that you never know how much is below the surface. Students can observe how much of an ice chunk floats above water. Have students freeze water in a paper cup. Then have them fill a bucket or deep bowl with water. Ask them to tear the paper away from the ice and place the ice in the water. Ask them to estimate how much of the ice they see above the water. Students can read more in Kinds of Glaciers for our Glaciers Unit.
After students read Social Classes in 1912, have them make a model of the Titanic or a diorama of one of its interior features. They might choose to model the grand staircase, a first-class bedroom, the boiler room, or another section of the ship. They can consult Internet sites as well as books to find descriptions and pictures to use as references. Display the models.
Newspapers covered the story of the Titanic. The papers told about the tragedy. They listed passengers who survived and those who did not. Have students research information about the Titanic and its passengers and crews. Encourage them to write a newspaper article or editorial about the event. Remind them that articles often answer the questions who, what, where, when, why, and how. Articles should focus on the facts and avoid opinions. Editorials express opinions. The opinions should be supported by facts. Students can find newspaper stories about the event here.
After the Titanic disaster, international safety regulations were passed. Discuss the importance of lifeboat drills. Equate them to fire drills held at school. Then have students do research to find out about lifeboat drill procedures on present-day liners. Have students make a list of regulations to follow or have a mock practice that safely follows these regulations.
On that fateful night, the Titanic used Morse code to send a distress signal: SOS. Suggest that students encode a message, using the written form of the Morse Code. Remind them to use the information about spaces between letters and words and length of dashes. Once students have encoded their messages, have them exchange papers and try to decode the message. Your students can read more about other ships with similar fates as the Titanic in Famous Shipwrecks from our Boats & Ships Unit.