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Lesson: The New York City Subway System

Brief Description

Students explore the New York City subway system as a link to the people and places of New York City.



  • learn about the subway system as a mode of transportation,
  • understand its importance and value,
  • study its history and compare it with the history of subway systems in other cities,
  • learn to recognize the different subway train destinations by their codes, and
  • learn to appreciate the subway as a means of connecting the varied groups living in the city.


New York City, subway, transportation, map reading, history, time line, geography, community, current events

Materials Needed

  • chart paper
  • markers
  • computers with Internet access
  • construction paper
  • current magazines or newspapers
  • writing paper
  • pencils
  • poster board
  • KWL graphic organizer for each student

Lesson Plan

  • Begin a KWL graphic organizer by asking, "What do you know about the subway system? What do you want to know about the subway system?"
  • Show students a Map of New York City Subway System and ask: "If I'm traveling from Times Square and I want to reach the World Trade Center as quickly as possible, which train should I ride? Why?" Repeat the question several times, changing the arrival and departure points each time.
  • Have students make a time line of the New York City subway system using information from sites such as The MTA Transit Museum and New York City Subway Resources.
  • Have students compare and contrast the New York subway system with subway systems Around the World.
  • Look for current articles about the subway system in magazines, newspapers, or online. Discuss the articles with the class, or arrange students into small groups and have each group discuss a different article.
  • Have students write slogans, poems, essays, or journal articles about the subway and create subway posters.
  • Complete the KWL organizer by asking, "What did you learn about the New York City subway system?"

Activity Time



Evaluate students on their participation in class discussions, their writings, and their subway art.

Lesson Plan Source

Raymundo V. De Jesus, ([email protected]) P.S. 154M, New York, New York

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Updated 1/17/2012