National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior

[Graphic] Teaching with Historic Places logo

Teaching with Historic Places

Heritage Education Services Program

Teaching with Historic Places (TwHP) uses properties listed in the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places to enliven history, social studies, geography, civics, and other subjects. TwHP has created a variety of products and activities that help teachers bring historic places into the classroom.


Ideas For Service Learning Projects

Join projects/programs organized by local governments and community organizations

  • Contact a local preservation organization to identify projects for which it could use volunteer help
  • Become a junior docent at a local historic site
  • Volunteer to help lead tours of local historic places
  • Volunteer to paint, whitewash, stucco, or work on minor repairs during a historic building restoration or any other preservation project
  • Work with a local preservation or history organization to help publicize information about local historic places
  • Assist with archaeological digs at historic or prehistoric sites
  • Construct  handicap access trails in local or state historic parks
  • Maintain a CCC-constructed trail in a state park
  • Clean up or repair neglected buildings listed in local or state registers or the National Register of Historic Places
  • Construct exhibits at a local historic house or other historic building
  • Volunteer/become appointed as youth members of local historic preservation commissions
  • Help a local library or local historic site with their local history collections.  Help them to organize maps, photos, newspapers clipping collections, books, and other publications
  • Help design, create, maintain, or update website for a local history or preservation organization or a local house museum
  • Volunteer to conduct needed research for historic properties, such as title searches at the county courthouse
  • Volunteer to plant trees and help with other landscaping activities at a local historic site, library, museum, or cemetery
  • Offer to clean up a local historic cemetery and/or clean the headstones 
  • Order Veteran’s Affairs replacement headstones for a historic cemetery where veterans are buried
  • Volunteer to care for farm animals at a local historic site or local historic farm
  • Testify at public hearings, city council meetings and/or state legislatures, to advocate for historic preservation projects
  • Create tee-shirts or mugs with historic sayings on them or hold an in-school music concert to assist with fundraising for a local historic site or preservation project
  • Create a documentary film about a local history topic or a current historic preservation project and donate the film to the local historic society or a local museum
  • Help transcribe letters, diaries, or scan photographs from your local historic society or museum

Organize individual or class projects to benefit the local community

  • Write letters to advocate for the preservation of an important historic or cultural site
  • Conduct interviews and collect oral histories of local veterans of any war and donate the tapes and transcripts to the local library or historical society
  • Conduct interviews at local nursing homes about residents’ lives and donate the tapes and transcripts to the local historical society
  • Conduct an oral history of a teacher that may soon retire; submit oral history to the school library and the community library
  • Write articles about historic places, events, and people for the local paper
  • Create walking or driving tours of historic places in the community and submit them to the local historical society or chamber of commerce; create a website to further publicize these places
  • Research information to help complete a National Register of Historic Places nomination
  • Research and write a local cultural journal to document unique historical aspects of the local community
  • Create a photographic project documenting the transformation of a local historic area (ex. A building, park, town, Main Street); donate the project to the local library or historical society
  • Research the school’s physical building: how has it changed over time and why? Create an exhibit to display in the school’s lobby or to display in the local town hall
  • Write songs and poems about local history and historic places and create an original CD; distribute the CD at local community events
  • Create a podcast about your area’s local history or about an individual local historic site; inform local historic preservation offices, local historic societies, and local museums about the podcast and encourage them to use it at their organization
  • Research/collect traditional local food recipes and identify historic places (restaurants, county fairs) where these foods have been served; create cookbooks with the recipes, photographs, and stories about the places and cultures identified with the recipes.  Donate the cookbooks to the local historical society, but also consider persuading the historical society, chamber of commerce, and restaurants to use them as a fund-raiser to preserve places associated with community foodways
  • Design a plaque or monument to dedicate to the town or the first inhabitants;  propose the implementation of this plaque or monument at a local town meeting
  • Identify the American Indian tribe or tribes that originally inhabited the area where their community is located and, in consultation with representatives of the original tribes that still live in the local area, create interpretive historic panels documenting the tribes’ histories; arrange to have panels displayed somewhere in your local community
  • Contact the National Trust for Historic Preservation and determine if your community is eligible for the “Main Street” commercial district revitalization program; provide information to the local government and chamber of commerce
  • Brainstorm ideas about how the community might better promote local historic sites and tourism; present these ideas to the local historical society and chamber of commerce.