Mountain Dew: Prohibition in America

The era of Prohibition has long captivated America’s imagination. Prohibition’s origins can be found in the Temperance movement of the early 1800’s. The Temperance Movement wanted to rid society of the evils of liquor and slavery. Ultimately the Temperance Movement could not gain enough support to ban liquor until nearly a century later in 1917, when Prohibition was passed to conserve wheat for the war effort in World War I. The era of Prohibition gave birth to mob bosses like Al Capone and is the genesis for the modern sport of NASCAR. In this lesson plan, students will explore the Prohibition era using a variety of learning methods and resources to answer the investigative question of how the era of Prohibition affected American society. 

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
Analyze what a text says explicitly and draw inferences; support an interpretation of a text by citing and synthesizing relevant textual evidence from...
Evaluate the topic, subject, and/or theme in multiple diverse formats and media, including how the version interprets the source text.
Write informative/explanatory texts to analyze, synthesize, and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the...
Explain the background of the Temperance Movement, the passage of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution and the Volstead Act; the impact of Prohibition on American...
Alignment of this item to academic standards is based on recommendations from content creators, resource curators, and visitors to this website. It is the responsibility of each educator to verify that the materials are appropriate for your content area, aligned to current academic standards, and will be beneficial to your specific students.
Learning objectives: 

The student will:

  • recognize the Volstead Act.
  • explain the Temperance Movement.
  • identify the effects of Prohibition on American society.
  • analyze primary sources to determine their significance to the era of Prohibition.
  • develop an argument defending/promoting the Prohibition era using primary sources.
Essential and guiding questions: 

How did the era of Prohibition affect American society?

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Extension suggestions: 

To extend the lesson there are several projects that you can do. These projects are excellent for stimulating student creativity and providing reinforcement opportunities.

  • Create an advertisement for or against Prohibition. (You can post this outside in the hallway or around your classroom)
  • Write a poem/song that is either anti or pro Prohibition. (You can find examples like this song on the Library of Congress)
  • Write a letter to an editor of a newspaper stating if you are for or against Prohibition. (You can use this activity in lieu of a research paper) 

Helpful Hints


  • PowerPoint: Mountain Dew: Prohibition in America
  • Problem Based Learning Worksheet
  • The Origins of Prohibition in America
  • Primary Source Packet (Laminated)
  • Principles of Prohibition, page 3: This file is best viewed/printed in the TIFF
  • H.I.P.P.O. Worksheet