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How to
Use the Activities


Inquiry Question

Historical Context




Table of

Putting It All Together

The following activities will help students better understand the chronology of European control of the Americas as well as learn more about the history of their own community.

Activity 1: Spain and Other Colonizers
How did European control of the Americas change over time? Have students use an atlas or a world history book to find maps that show the areas of the Americas controlled by European nations at three or four different times—for example: 1600, 1650, 1750, and 1850. At each time, which European nation controlled the most territory? At what point did colonies become independent? What do these changes suggest about what was happening in Europe?

Activity 2: Comparing an Old City to a New City
Each community has a history and physical evolution of its own. Have students go to the library or local historical society to obtain an old map, or series of maps, of the local area. Insurance maps for successive 20 year periods are especially useful to find out how the buildings in a particular block have changed over the years. As the students are doing their research, have them consider the following questions: Were the houses built the same way? Are public agencies such as police and fire department, government buildings, and schools located in the same places as they were many years ago? Why did this happen? What unique structures appeared in each time period? Then have students combine their work to show how the area has developed over time. What forces might have caused the changes?

Activity 3: Photographing History
Have students, either working alone or as part of a small group, prepare a photo essay that tells the story of an important historic site in their neighborhood or community. All photos must have captions that explain their importance to the viewer, and each should be placed on a poster board in an attractive way. Each person or group should share his/her project with the other groups. As an introduction, each group should describe what aspects of the site first caught their interest. Then the class should discuss whether the essays as a whole create a comprehensive picture of the community's history, and consider why or why not.



Comments or Questions

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