Unit 12: Social Changes & American Life at the Turn of the 20th Century





When you teach Social Changes & American Life at the Turn of the 20th Century, your students will realize that America underwent some radical social and cultural changes at the turn of the twentieth century.

Students should understand that these rapid social changes were due to the growth of industry and cities at this time. While the wheels of change were turning at an incredibly rapid pace, many Americans clung to the old ways, fearing such overwhelming changes. Many grasped at old ideas and old social roles, especially the ones that pertained to women and African Americans. This unit is all about the changes that were taking place in the United States and how those changes affected life for everyone involved. You will find a fun project for your students that deals with changes in society.

One particular change was the role of education. In the late 1800s, education was viewed as a luxury that only the wealthy and privileged could partake in. As the new century unfolded, however, so did ideas about education. More and more Americans realized the importance of education for all and it slowly became much more accessible to anyone who sought it.

Since technology had changed much of how Americans lived their lives, there was more time available for entertainment. New forms of entertainment began to appear at the turn of the century. Baseball was born and with it the very first silent movies and vaudeville. Music also became more popular, such as ragtime and jazz. Americans were learning how to enjoy their leisure time!

Sadly, though, African Americans continued to struggle for equality. Jim Crow laws became the norm in most parts of the United States. Despite these laws, African Americans continued to fight for civil rights and even rise to success in their lives.

Finally, the biggest changes happened in the lives of women. New jobs became available as well as new educational opportunities and new roles in the home. The struggle for women’s suffrage also began to gain momentum at this time.

I will be adding more activities plus a study guide and test soon, so keep checking for updates!









A list of key terms related to this unit that will get your students acquainted with social changes & American life at the turn of the 20th century.






A PowerPoint presentation ready to open and download to your computer, containing 46 colorful, content-filled slides with images.





A complete set of Fill-in-the-Notes for your students. Simply download the presentation, print the slides (six per page) and give each student a copy so they can take notes with while you teach and present this unit on social changes & American life at the turn of the 20th century.





This is a fun group activity where students are divided into groups and research all kinds of different inventions that occured at this time. Groups then present their findings in a colorful, attractive, and informative display!




In this project, your students construct books chronicling the changes our country has gone through in the last 100 years and even predicting how things will change 100 years from now. The project involves library and Internet research as well as creativity in putting together their books and making their predictions.




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