Good Times and Hard Times in America


Learn about good times and bad times in the United States in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

Teaching Objectives:

  • Students will be to identify the automobile, movie and radio industries as indicative of prosperity in the U.S. in the 1920’s.
  • Students will be able to name the first “talkie” and tell what year it was produced.
  • Students will be able to explain what caused the stock market to crash in 1929.
  • Students will be able to identify October 29, 1929 as the day the stock market crashed.
  • Students will be able to identify the stock market crash as the beginning of the Great Depression.
  • Students will be able to describe the hardships people faced during the Great Depression.

Suggested Grade Level

4th – 6th Grade

Lesson Excerpt:

Soon after World War I ended, many people in America experienced good times. The United States was now the richest country in the world, and the biggest sign of good times for most people was having a car of their own. More than half of American families had a car by 1927, and the success of the automobile industry had a great effect on the landscape of the country. Country roads were replaced by paved highways, and the highways were lined with growing businesses such as gas stations, diner and motels.

Work life was also easier in the 1920’s. For the first time, most people had weekends off to spend on entertainment. Some even had paid vacation time for the first time. The movie industry began to grow as people had more free time. Since Thomas Edison invented the motion picture, movies had been a favorite pastime for Americans, though early movies had no sound. Then in 1927, the first “talkie” was produced. It was a movie called “The Jazz Singer” that starred an actor and singer named Al Jolson. Another big business was radio. By 1929, nearly one third of American families had a radio in their homes. They would sit by the radio at night and listen to stories, music or the news.

 

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