The Rise and Fall of Reconstruction in Virginia

Lesson 7: Jim Crow Laws and Segregation

Time Estimated: 1 days



Students will:

  1. Be introduced to the terms segregation and Jim Crow Laws
  2. Experience discrimination by participating in a simulation
  3. Explore the effects of discrimination on individuals by writing about their experience.







  1. Simulation. As students enter the classroom the day of the lesson, each one will be asked to pick a card randomly from a box. In the box will be cards of two colors, one color representing about 25%, the other about 75% of the class population. The teacher will have gone to bathrooms and drinking fountains in the building and marked one stall/fountain/sink with the colored card that represents the minority of the class. Students who chose that colored card will be asked to only use the facilities marked with the appropriately colored card. They will be assigned to sit in the back of the room, and at a separate table for lunch. They will be asked to line up at the end of the line when the class travels, and all children should only play and work with students who have chosen the same colored card.
  2. Discuss student reactions to the simulation. Their experiences tend to provide them with an awareness of how individuals felt who were exposed to Jim Crow laws and segregation. Some students in both groups follow the directions as given. Some students in both groups ignore them, then are turned in to the teacher. Some students of both groups become angry and refuse to follow the directions. Some students can (and the teacher must be careful to remind students that this is a simulation to avoid this) have hurt feelings.
  3. Discuss how student reactions to the simulation mirror those of individuals who experienced segregation. Share photographs from African American Odyssey
  4. Read textbook account about Jim Crow Laws and segregation for background knowledge.
  5. Ask students to respond in writing to the following questions:
    • What feelings did you experience from the simulation?
    • What do you think people felt who were subjected to Jim Crow Laws?
  6. Wrap-up. Share and discuss writing.




For the written portion of the lesson, students will have the opportunity to type, or handwrite their responses. Students whose IEP requires a scribe will be offered that accommodation, for the written assignment.