Lesson Plan Index: Activities

Teaching with Historic Places has developed more than 160 classroom-ready lesson plans that together range across American history. All are available on the Web. For more information on lessons plans or our program, contact TwHP. You can also view the entire collection according to location, topic, primary source, skill, U.S. History Standards, and Social Studies Standards.

In an effort to help teachers meet their own and their students' educational goals, TwHP has categorized its lesson plans according to various skills that specific lessons help students practice and develop through the activities in the lesson's Putting It All Together section. To find these activities, click on "Putting It All Together" in the lesson's index and look for the activity's name as cited below under each lesson title. Lessons will contain more detailed explanations of the activities than the brief descriptions below.


 
 
Advertisements/Promotion

Bryce Canyon National Park: Hoodoos Cast Their Spell (64)
• "The Local Landscape:" In small groups, students select a national park, monument, historic site, state or local park, wilderness area, or other public use area located in their community. Have each group create a promotion page for a newspaper or magazine, a Web page, or a photo essay "advertising" for their site.
Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park: Where the Wright Brothers Conquered the Air (111)
• "Advertising for Business:" Have each student in the class conduct further research on one of the Wright brothers' printing businesses or bicycle shops. Then have them design an advertisement about one of the Wright brothers' businesses and/or products.
The Emerald Necklace: Boston's Green Connection (86)
• "Parks Brochure:" Have students work in groups to create a brochure of a local park or park system. The final product should be displayed and/or sent to the local parks commission.
The Frankish Building: A Reflection of the Success of Ontario, California (43)
• "Advertising the Colony of Ontario:" Have students work in groups to make a list of ways they would have tried to attract people to the "Model Colony" of Ontario, and then ask each group to design and make an advertising poster touting the positive attributes of Ontario to prospective settlers.
Mammoth Cave: Its Explorers, Miners, Archeologists, and Visitors (35)
• "Luring the Public to a Special Place:" After studying how their state promotes tourism, have students develop an advertisement for a state natural or historic resource they find interesting.
The Old Mormon Fort: Birthplace of Las Vegas, Nevada (122)
• "Las Vegas Centennial:" Divide students into teams and have them draw a poster to either commemorate both the centennial of Las Vegas in 2005 and the 150th anniversary of the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort or the birth and growth of their own town.
The Rosenwald Schools: Progressive Era Philanthropy in the Segregated South (159)
• "Rosenwald Schools, Yesterday and Today:" Have students create travel and information brochures for surviving Rosenwald Schools that are open to the public.
Skagway: Gateway to the Klondike (75)
• "History and the Use of Local Buildings:" Have students compile a list of buildings that illustrate the development of their community. The class should develop a promotional brochure or walking tour of their town about those buildings. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Two American Entrepreneurs: Madam C.J. Walker and J.C. Penney
• "Changing in Advertising:" Divide the class into groups with the task of analyzing 10 different kinds of advertisements. Compare recent advertisements with the Walker or Penny ads. Develop an ad for a product or store.
Ybor City: Cigar Capital of the World (51)
• "Describing Ybor City:" Ask students to imagine that they are living in Ybor City in the early 1900s and have been asked to encourage other cigar workers to relocate to Ybor City. Have them design a leaflet describing the city during its heyday as a cigar-making center, and have them work in small groups to produce a sample brochure.
Artwork/Drawing/Graphic Design

Adeline Hornbek and the Homestead Act: A Colorado Success Story (67)
• "Researching Important Women:" Have students design and create an exhibit about an outstanding woman who lived (or lives) in the area for the school and community.
An American Success Story: The Pope House of Raleigh, NC (124)
• "Mock Election:" Have students make campaign posters for Dr. Manassa Pope’s 1919 election and create a display for them.
The Battle of Bennington: An American Victory (107)
• "Moments of Heroism:" Ask students to survey older members of the community to identify events in the past that filled residents with pride, and have them create a rough sketch about those events for possible display as an "art gallery" for their school and community.
The Battle of Bentonville: Caring for Casualties of the Civil War (69)
• "A Popular Example:" Have students design an enlistment poster recruiting doctors for service as field surgeons in the Union army during the Civil War.
The Battle of Oriskany: "Blood Shed a Stream Running Down" (79)
• "The Lost Battlefield, In the Grip of Fear:" Have students recreate the Battle of Oriskany by producing a map of one or more different phases of the battle, sketching/painting a picture of the battle, or filming a reenactment of the battle. Have them produce a written, pictorial, or video report describing a controversial issue that has divided their community.
The Battle of Stones River: The Soldiers' Story (40)
• "War Memorials in the Local Community:" Have students draw their own sketch for a monument of any battle or war that affected their community.
Californio to American: A Study in Cultural Change (8)
• "The Ranch House:" Have students construct a model of the Rancho Los Alamitos using cardboard or any other practical material. Some may choose to draw their conception of what the house looked like during the various stages of its construction.
The Carlisle Indian Industrial School: Assimilation with Education after the Indian Wars (163)
• "Explore Disease at Carlisle with Science and Empathy:" Assign poster presentations to each student about one of the three main illnesses that spread among Carlisle students. Posters should provide a basic description of the disease including symptoms and how it is spread. It should also display images of the disease affecting a cell, or diagrams of body systems or organs affected. Lastly, have students incorporate artwork onto the poster that memorializes Carlisle students buried at the cemetery.
Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park: Where the Wright Brothers Conquered the Air (111)
• "The Roots of Invention:" Have students think creatively to develop their own inventions with detailed drawings or models.
Digging into the Colonial Past: Archeology and the 16th-Century Spanish Settlements at Charlesfort-Santa Elena (155)
•"Town Planning:" Have students research how the layout of their local town or city was designed and present their findings to the class with visual aids, creating or reproducing maps, drawings, photographs, charts, graphs, illustrations, etc.
Embattled Farmers and the Shot Heard Round The World: The Battles of Lexington and Concord (150)
"Local Commemoration:" Have small student groups design a memorial to an important local figure and then give persuasive speeches to win the class’s vote for best memorial. The class will then take the winner’s design, polish it, and then present the idea to local government as a service learning project.
The Emerald Necklace: Boston's Green Connection (86)
• "Parks Brochure:" Have students work in groups to create a park brochure of a local park or park system. The final product should be displayed and/or sent to the local parks commission.
Enduring Awatovi: Uncovering Hopi Life and Work on the Mesa (156)
• "Illustrating Hopi Methods of Farming:" Have students develop an art project (drawing, painting, diorama, sculpture, etc.) to illustrate one method of Hopi farming and base features of their art on their own research of the method. Final product should include citations for their sources.
Federal Courthouses and Post Offices: Symbols of Pride and Permanence
• "What If…:" Have students work in groups to create a poster or exhibit on a courthouse, post office, or other government building in the area for display at the local library or historical society.
Floyd Bennett Field: Naval Aviation's Home in Brooklyn (120)
• "Graphic Design:" Have students review the history of Floyd Bennett Field and either design an insignia that reflects the airfield’s history or design a patch to honor the civilian assembly line workers who constructed aircrafts at the field. Have students design a poster for Floyd Bennett Field or another historic airfield or landmark in their community.
Forts of Old San Juan: Guardians of the Caribbean (60)
• "Photographing History:" Have students review the history of Floyd Bennett Field and either design an insignia that reflects the airfield’s history or design a patch to honor the civilian assembly line workers who constructed aircrafts at the field. Have students design a poster for Floyd Bennett Field or another historic airfield or landmark in their community.
The Frankish Building: A Reflection of the Success of Ontario, California (43)
• "Looking at a Building:" Students should visit their town center and sketch and build a model of one of the buildings there and then label the architectural components of their drawings and models.
Glen Echo Park: Center for Education and Recreation (24)
• "Architecture in Your Own Neighborhood:" Have students take a walking tour of their neighborhood to see if they can find a recreation or education building or space that was created about the time of Glen Echo Chautauqua. Students should pick out a building, park, or other place they especially like and sketch the place or design elements that they think make it special.
Guilford Courthouse: A Pivotal Battle in the War for Independence (32)
• "Monuments to War:" In groups, have students find a war monument in their community, take photos of it, and copy its inscriptions for an in-class discussion. Have students choose a battle and make a sketch of a monument with a fitting inscription and display their completed works.
Harry Truman and Independence, Missouri: "This is Where I Belong" (103)
• "The Place We Call Home:" Have the students discuss what "home" means to them; then draw a picture of their home and explain what makes it special to them.
Iolani Palace: A Hawaiian Place of History, Power, and Prestige (161)
• "Discover Civic Activism at Iolani Palace and in Your Community:" Have students write an essay about how a historic place of their choosing has been used as a site of political activism. Have students paint, draw, or create a model of the historic site to accompany their essay.
The Joseph Bellamy House: The Great Awakening in Puritan New England (85)
• "Gravestone Design:" Have students select a prominent living local figure and design that person's gravestone and epitaph.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition: Documenting the Uncharted Northwest (108)
"The Power of the Pen:" In groups, have students spend an hour observing and recording their environment in a journal (include drawings and writings). Each group should talk in depth about their observations so that the class might guess what was observed.
Liberty Ships and Victory Ships, America's Lifeline in War (116)
• "Pay Tribute to Local History:" Have students design a postage stamp depicting an important event that happened in their community.
Log Cabins in America: The Finnish Experience (4)
• "Role Play:" Have students pretend they are early farmers in the community in which they reside, and have them draw a sketch of their first home and of the outbuildings they will need for farm work.
Mechanics Hall: Symbol of Pride and Industry (87)
• "Local Research:" Ask students to investigate the area they live in and compile a list of historic structures or sites. In teams, have students select one site and research it. The report may take the form of a written essay, an oral presentation or skit, a poster, or computer display.
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site: Protecting a Legacy of the Cold War (128)
• "Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles: America’s Cold War Deterrent:" Have groups of students Divide students into groups and have them research one of America's ground-based missile forces during the Cold War—the Atlas, Titan, Minuteman, and Peacekeeper. Each group should make a large design drawing of their missile.
Mount Auburn Cemetery: A New American Landscape (84)
"Observing the Landscape:" Arrange for students to visit a local landscape and ask them to compare the landscape with that of Mount Auburn, identify how people of their community use this landscape, assess their emotional reaction to it, and explain why they have that feeling. Students may describe their experience either by writing about it or creating a graphic representation.
North Carolina State Capitol: Pride of the State (61)
• "Classical Architecture in the Community:" Have students walk around their community to see if they can find examples of Greek Revival architecture, and have them sketch features on the buildings.
The Old Mormon Fort: Birthplace of Las Vegas, Nevada (122)
• "Your Town’s Birth:" Divide students into teams and have them research their community for evidence of how their town started and if any sites from that time still exist. If any still exist, have students take a picture or draw a picture of those sites that will accompany a written history of their community.
President Lincoln's Cottage: A Retreat (138)
• "Journal Entry:" Have students keep a journal of their own observations and experiences on their way to and from school. They can include drawings as part of the record.
• "Retreats in Your Local Community:" Have students research existing retreats in their own community and brainstorm ideas for new retreats. As part of this activity, students should draw the surroundings of the retreat and the route they would take to get there.
Roadside Attractions (6)
• "Designing a Building:" Have students sketch structures that might represent literalism in advertising, place-product-packaging, and vernacular public art that would be particularly appropriate for their region.
• "Form, Fantasy, and Design:" Ask students to redesign a city block to include at least 10 buildings that are in a fantasy style of pop-architecture.
The Rosenwald Schools: Progressive Era Philanthropy in the Segregated South (159)
• “Discover History in Your Local Historic Places:” Have your students use the National Register database to identify a historic building or buildings in their county or region, investigate the history of that site, and draw architectural plans depicting the historic property.
Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site: Home of a Gilded Age Icon (48)
• "Coins, Coins, Coins:" Ask students to sketch a coin they would like to see circulated around the U.S. Then have the students share their sketches with the class and explain why they chose the images and symbolism they used. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Savannah, Georgia: The Lasting Legacy of Colonial City Planning (83)
• "Draw the City Plan of Savannah:" Have students create the basic module of Savannah's town plan—the ward—with all its divisions.
Skagway: Gateway to the Klondike (75)
• "History and the Use of Local Buildings:" In small groups have students research a building in order to create an exhibit illustrating its history; the class should develop a promotional brochure or walking tour of their town about those buildings. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Springwood: Birthplace and Home to Franklin D. Roosevelt (82)
• "Lifestyles:" In groups, have students research an aspect of life in the late 19th century—comparing it with contemporary life. Students may present their findings through drawings or photographs, written reports, skits involving objects or costumes, charts, computer slide-shows, or other means.
These Honored Dead: The Battle of Rivers Bridge and Civil War Combat Casualties (94)
• "Monuments:" Have students locate soldiers' monument or war memorial in their hometown or county and prepare a class presentation on it with illustrations or photos.
The United States Air Force Academy: Founding a Proud Tradition (114)
• "Military Air Power:" As a class, have students create an illustrated timeline of advances in military airplane technology since World War I.
The Vieux Carré: A Creole Neighborhood in New Orleans (20)
• "The Local Community:" Take students on a walking tour of a nearby ethnic neighborhood or commercial area with sketch pads and cameras in order to record architectural details. Have students point out differences between their local surroundings and the Vieux Carré.
The Washington Monument: Tribute in Stone (62)
• "Designing a Monument:" In groups, have students decide on an American they believe should be honored with a memorial. Have them create a model of a memorial with a written description of the ideas behind the structure.
• "Local Memorial Study:" Have students, alone or in groups, select a local memorial and identify the person being memorialized, investigate the memorial, photograph or make a drawing of the memorial, and present a report to the class.
Waterford, Virginia: From Mill Town to National Historic Landmark (88)
• "A Step Back in Time:" Ask students to imagine they lived in Waterford in the 19th century, and have them draw three pictures of themselves helping with the harvest or at the mill.
Weir Farm: Home of an American Impressionist (22)
• "Finding a Painting Site, The Impressionist Experience:" Have students find places in their community they think would be good subjects for an impressionist painting and sketch or photograph their place. Students could also choose an interesting site at or around the school to prepare a finished work using pastels, cray-pas, crayons, watercolors, chalk, or poster paints, which they would share with the class.
Woodrow Wilson: Prophet of Peace (14)
• "Partisan Political Cartoons:" Have students draw their own political cartoons relating to the debate over the League of Nations or over a current issue relating to peace. Have students present their works to the class and explain how they represented the personalities and points of view involved.

Lightning Lessons

Discover the African Burial Ground National Monument (Lightning Lesson 3)
• "Investigating Local and Regional History through Archeology:" Through internet research and contacting local history experts, students will investigate a historic place in their own region where people marked the space with religious or other cultural symbols. They will each design a poster display to explain the who, where, what, and why of the historic site and the meaning of the symbols found there.
Discover the Mary Ann Shadd Cary House (Lightning Lesson 1)
• "Nineteenth Century Urban Engineering and Home Comforts :" Have students study 19th century home life in this historical research and arts project. Students will research a home appliance that was available in late 19th century cities. Students will take their findings and interpret it in an art project (visual, digital, performance, etc). Exhibit the projects as appropriate.
Cartography

Arthurdale: A New Deal Community Experiment (157)
• "Plan Your Own Community:" Have students design a perfect community. They will write a short report to describe the community and then use graph paper to lay out the town, labeling features and buildings. Display the communities in the school or, if possible, digitize students' work and create a class blog or website to feature their designs.
The Battle of Oriskany: "Blood Shed a Stream Running Down" (79)
• "The Lost Battlefield:" Have students recreate the Battle of Oriskany by producing a map of one or more different phases of the battle, sketching/painting a picture of the battle, or filming a reenactment of the battle. Throughout the process they are to maintain a written journal or recorded oral log of their progress.
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania: A Moravian Settlement in Colonial America (59)
• "Mapping a Neighborhood:" Have students compare the oldest map or drawing of their community with Bethlehem.
Chattanooga, Tennessee: Train Town (52)
• "Literature, Art, and Music:" Play a recording of "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" by Glenn Miller and his orchestra for the class. On a map of the United States, have students trace the route described in the song. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Digging into the Colonial Past: Archeology and the 16th-Century Spanish Settlements at Charlesfort-Santa Elena (155)
•"Town Planning:" Have students research how the layout of their local town or city was designed and present their findings to the class with visual aids, creating or reproducing maps, drawings, photographs, charts, graphs, illustrations, etc.
The Emerald Necklace: Boston's Green Connection (86)
• "Plan Your Own Greenway:" Have students look at modern and historical maps of their community to compare the type of information each map contains. Locate existing parks and or park system sites on the maps.
Forts of Old San Juan: Guardians of the Caribbean (60)
• "Comparing an Old City to a New City:" Have students go to the library or local historical society to obtain an old map, or series of maps, of the local area to chart how their town has changed over the years.
Frederica: An 18th-Century Planned Community (31)
• "Planned Communities:" Have students draw a plat map for what she or he believes would be an ideal community.
Harry Truman and Independence, Missouri: "This is Where I Belong" (103)
• "The Place We Call Home:" Have students take a walk through their neighborhood noting who lives around them and what types of businesses or shops are nearby. Have students draw a map of their neighborhood based on these notes.
"Journey from Slavery to Statesman": The Homes of Frederick Douglass (147)
"Activity 3: Traveling the Underground Railroad:" Have students divide a slave narrative into readable lengths so they can trace and map out the slave’s journey to freedom. Have students compare the narratives and create an exhibit based on the information they gather from the narrative.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition: Documenting the Uncharted Northwest (108)
• "Creating Maps:" Have students walk around their neighborhood or school and document their visual interpretations in the form of a map, and have them compare their maps to an actual map of the school grounds or their neighborhood. Display the maps in the classroom.
The Ohio and Erie Canal: Catalyst of Economic Development for Ohio (41)
• "The Importance of Transportation Systems:" Have students work in groups to create a timeline or illustrated map of the nation’s transportation history. Research a local transportation route or transportation system in order to create a local timeline or map, and compare both timelines or maps for class discussion.
Mount Auburn Cemetery: A New American Landscape (84)
• "Location is Everything:" Have students identify the location of a local cemetery on a map, work with the local library or historical society to arrange to see past maps showing the location of the cemetery, and describe what the surrounding area looked like when the cemetery was first created.
Saratoga: The Tide Turns on the Frontier (93)
• "Soldiers and Settlement:" Ask students to research their community to determine if there are any descendants of participants in the American Revolution who live there. Students may wish to compile their findings on a large map with pushpins identifying the names and hometowns of the participants they locate.
Savannah, Georgia: The Lasting Legacy of Colonial City Planning (83)
• "Then and Now in Your Town:" In teams or pairs, instruct students to analyze and discuss the development of their town through maps.
Separate But Equal? South Carolina's Fight Over School Segregation (158)
• "Map Your Community's School History:" Have your students work in small groups to investigate the histories of local schools. They will use what they uncover to create a class timeline and map to depict the history of education in their community.
The Shields-Ethridge Farm: The End of a Way of Life (145)
• "Our Agrarian Past:" Have students work in small groups as they study maps of farmland in their community before it was developed. Then, have them look at post-development maps and study how the land changed. Ask each group to create an exhibit to display their findings.
Thomas P. Kennard House: Building a Prairie Capital (149)
• "City Planning: Design a state capital:" Have students study an early map of your state’s capital city. Have them use what they learn from it to design their own state capital and then give a persuasive speech about why their design would make a good capital city.
When Rice Was King (3)
• "Laying Out a Plantation:" Ask students to draw a sketch map showing how they would have laid out a plantation if they had been an architect and landscape designer in the 18th century.
Lightning Lessons

Discover the African Burial Ground National Monument (Lightning Lesson 3)
• "Tracing Paths and Exploring Destinations of the Middle Passage:" Have students use an online resource to study the Middle Passage and the different conditions of enslavement, laws regulating slavery, and attitudes toward slavery across the world during the era of the global, African slave trade. They will write an essay based on their findings and compare/contrast different systems of slavery.
Discover the Solar Eclipse of 1900 in Historic Wadesboro, NC (Lightning Lesson 4)
• "Charting Solar Eclipses around the World:" Have students use an online eclipse database to create a chart that outlines the date, duration, and paths of totality where total solar eclipses occurred in the last fifty years. Have them display their findings and then facilitate a discussion of eclipses in a global cultural context.
Charts/Graphs/Tables/Diagrams/Lists

The Battle of Bennington: An American Victory (107)
• "Historical Language and Images:" Get students to create a list of unfamiliar words and expressions from the lesson. Then have them define them to see if they think whether knowing exactly what the words in a historical document exactly means makes a difference in their understanding of the document.
The Battle of Bunker Hill: Now We Are at War (42)
• "Rebellion Then and Now:" Have students create a list of reasons why the colonists rebelled against the British government.
The Battle of Horseshoe Bend: Collision of Cultures (54)
• "Cultural Conflict:" In groups, have students discuss and list possible strategies the Creek could have used during the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.
The Battle of Stones River: The Soldiers' Story (40)
• "Working with Primary Sources:" Have students make a list of the primary sources used in this lesson. Then have them analyze and evaluate them, sharing their findings with the class.
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania: A Moravian Settlement in Colonial America (59)
• "Mapping a Neighborhood:" Have students make a list of types of buildings found in cities or neighborhoods such as residential, industrial, commercial, etc., and assign a color to each building type.
From Canterbury to Little Rock: The Struggle for Educational Equality for African Americans
• "From Canterbury to Little Rock:" Have students complete a chart comparing and contrasting Canterbury and Little Rock. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
The Carlisle Indian Industrial School: Assimilation with Education after the Indian Wars (163)
• "Historic American Indian Boarding Schools Beyond Carlisle:" Assign to small groups or each student one historic, off-reservation school for a research project and report. The report you assign can take the form of an essay, research paper, skit, oral presentation, or poster presentation depending on time, resources, and ability. You may even want to give students the option to choose how they want to report.
"Making Global Connections at Carlisle:" Have each group produce a table on their findings, outlining the similarities and differences of assimilation policies used by the United States and other colonial powers.
Chattanooga, Tennessee: Train Town (52)
• "The Roles of Geography and Promotion:" After reviewing the materials they covered in the lesson, have students make a list that describes the natural features that would make Chattanooga a good place for businesses to locate and that includes those man-made factors that offer other benefits.
• "Literature, Art, and Music:" Have students develop lists of books, songs, poems, movies, and artworks that are about trains.
Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Chicago's Black Metropolis: Understanding History through a Historic Place (53)
• "Creating a Historic Place:" Have the class discuss the process by which structures are transformed into historic places, and then encourage students to use the information from the discussion to draw a flowchart showing the process people use to invest places with historical meaning.
Clara Barton's House: Home of the American Red Cross (27)
• "Women’s and Men’s Work:" Ask each member of the class to name an occupation they would be interested in pursuing, and make a chart comparing those listed by males with those listed by females to see if the lists differ.
Embattled Farmers and the Shot Heard Round The World: The Battles of Lexington and Concord (150)
"Rebellion -- Then and Now:" Have students study both the causes of the American Revolution and the causes of a recent revolution or ongoing rebellion. Ask them to list reasons why, for both events, people decided to change their government. Have a class discussion about how societies resolve conflicts.
First Lady of the World: Eleanor Roosevelt at Val-Kill (26)
• "Local Volunteer Organizations:" Ask students to make a list of the volunteer groups and programs in their community that are dedicated to helping others.
Federal Courthouses and Post Offices: Symbols of Pride and Permanence
• "The Federal Judicial System:" Ask students to conduct research and then make a chart describing the different branches of the U.S. court system. The chart should briefly explain when and how each type of court was created, the types of cases heard by each court, where they operate, the number of judges for each, and the procedure for selecting judges.
Fiftieth Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act
• "Activity 1, Activity 2:" Using information from the National Register of Historic Places, and also brainstorming, hold a class discussion in which students list places in the local community that are listed in the Register or may possess the historic significance to qualify for listing.
Fort Pickens and the Outbreak of the Civil War (38)
• "Isn’t It Ironic?:" Have students list as many ironies connected with activities in the Pensacola area in the 19th century as they can.
Gran Quivira: A Blending of Cultures in a Pueblo Indian Village (66)
• "Retrieving Data:" Have students make a retrieval chart for the information about the groups of people Gran Quivira's inhabitants probably traded with, and then divide the students into groups of four or five and have them discuss their completed charts.
Herbert Hoover: Iowa Farm Boy and World Humanitarian (34)
• "Citizenship and the Local Community:" Have students list ways in which they could act as good citizens in their own community.
Hopewell Furnace: A Pennsylvania Iron-making Plantation (97)
• "Working at Hopewell:" In three groups—furnace work, forest work, and field work—have students list all the jobs in their category, and on a chalkboard draw three circles (furnace, forest, and field) and ask each group to report its list.
Knife River: Early Village Life on the Plains (1)
• "Drawing Conclusions from Art:" With a partner, have students make lists of the details they see in two paintings of Knife River by George Catlin. After comparing lists with classmates, students should make generalizations about the paintings image of the Hidatsa and Mandan Indians.
• "Researching Local Indians:" If it is possible for the students to visit a local museum that displays prehistoric artifacts from their region, have the students construct a matrix of cultural items. Back in class, have the students compare the matrices and then draw conclusions about the reasons for cultural differences.
The Liberty Bell: From Obscurity to Icon (36)
• "Symbols in the Local Community:" Have students list reasons why people use symbols. Ask students to look for and list several patriotic symbols found in their communities or found in advertisements in their local newspaper.
Life on an Island: Early Settlers Off the Rock-Bound Coast of Maine (16)
"Living on an Island:" In two groups, have students list the advantages of the way of life on two separate islands.
Little Kinnakeet Lifesaving Station: Home to Unsung Heroes (57)
• "Today’s Lifesavers:" Have students prepare a list of questions to ask a member of a rescue team.
A Nation Repays Its Debt: The National Soldiers' Home and Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio (115)
• "Local Cemeteries:" Have students inventory the veteran grave sites in the local cemetery and: create a database and status report on the markers to present to the caretaker.
The Penniman House: A Whaling Story (112)
• "Preserving the Night Sky:" Have students compare what is on a sky chart with what they can see on a clear night outside their homes.
The Rockets' Red Glare": Francis Scott Key and the Bombardment of Fort McHenry (137)
• "Debating the War of 1812:" Have students create charts or matrixes comparing the positions of different political parties, different economic groups, and different areas of the country before the outbreak of the War of 1812, during the war, and immediately after it. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
The Shields-Ethridge Farm: The End of a Way of Life (145)
• "Hanging by a Thread:" Ask students to imagine living in 1920 on the Shields-Ethridge Farm and have them each draw a chart showing the process of cotton farming, from preparing the field to getting the raw cotton to market.
Skagway: Gateway to the Klondike (75)
• "Gold Rushes:" Have the class compile a list of gold rushes such as those that occurred in California, Nevada, and Colorado.
• "History and the Use of Local Buildings:" Have students compile a list of buildings that illustrate the development of their community.
Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
The Spanish Treasure Fleets of 1715 and 1733: Disasters Strike at Sea (129)
"Preserving Local Historic Resources:" As a class, have students create a chart comparing some of the preservation issues faced by their community’s local sites and the shipwreck sites. Headings for the chart should include Natural Threats and Manmade Threats.
Springwood: Birthplace and Home to Franklin D. Roosevelt (82)
• "Lifestyles:" In groups, have students research an aspect of life in the late 19th century—comparing it with contemporary life. Students may present their findings through drawings or photographs, written reports, skits involving objects or costumes, charts, computer slide-shows, or other means.
The Trail of Tears and the Forced Relocation of the Cherokee Nation (118)
• "Historical Evidence:" Have students review the lesson’s readings and visual materials and list the kinds of evidence presented. In groups, have them select four pieces of evidence and list what kind it is, when it was created, what facts it contains, what other kinds of information it provides, why it was created, and what it adds to their understanding of the Cherokee experience. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Two American Entrepreneurs: Madam C.J. Walker and J.C. Penney
• "Starting a Business:" After the groups have decided on the type of business they would like to start, have them draw up a list of steps they would have to take to make the business successful.
Ulysses S. Grant and Julia Dent Grant at White Haven Farm: The Missouri Compromise in American Life (154)
• "Consider the Evidence, Evaluate the Perspectives:" Have small student groups each go through the lesson and create a chart to record different evidence of slavery, the source of that evidence, and their own analysis of what that evidence reveals.
The Vieux Carré: A Creole Neighborhood in New Orleans (20)
• "Architectural Change:" Ask students to look at pictures of French and American influenced buildings and then list their observations on the similarities and differences of the styles of these buildings.
The Washington Monument: Tribute in Stone (62)
• "Qualities of a Leader:" Students should work in groups to create a list of Washington’s admirable qualities and achievements.
Waterford, Virginia: From Mill Town to National Historic Landmark (88)
• "Change Over Time in Your Town:" In groups, have students research the occupational history of their town in 1850, 1880, and 1930. Ask each group to share the information it has found in a class presentation that may include graphs and charts. Compile a list of all the occupations of their parents, guardians, or local relatives.
Lightning Lessons
Discover Colonel Young's Protest Ride for Equality and Country: A Lightning Lesson from Teaching with Historic Places, featuring the historic Colonel Charles Young House (Lightning Lesson 2)
• "Breaking Barriers to Military Service in Military History": Have students work in groups or as individual investigators, to select and research a topic related to Civil Rights and U.S. military service… Students should create a bibliography to list the primary and secondary sources they find, including books, newspaper articles, and legal documents.
Discover the Solar Eclipse of 1900 in Historic Wadesboro, NC (Lightning Lesson 4)
• "Charting Solar Eclipses around the World:" Have students use an online eclipse database to create a chart that outlines the date, duration, and paths of totality where total solar eclipses occurred in the last fifty years. Have them display their findings and then facilitate a discussion of eclipses in a global cultural context.
Civic Engagement

Adeline Hornbek and the Homestead Act: A Colorado Success Story (67)
"Researching Important Women:" Have students design and create an exhibit about an outstanding woman who lived (or lives) in the area for the school and community.
At a Crossroads: King of Prussia(119)
"Endangered Sites:" Have students find out if there is a historic place in their community that is endangered, and in groups have students research the significance of one of the endangered places and what efforts are being made to preserve the place.
Attu: North American Battleground of World War II (7)
"War and the Individual:" Encourage students to invite a veteran of a recent military engagement to speak to the class.
The Battle of Bentonville: Caring for Casualties of the Civil War (69)
"In Your Own Community:" Have students interview a member of a mobile military hospital or a local physician, a veteran of foreign wars, or a volunteer. Then have them create a case study of that individual and what motivated them to volunteer in extreme circumstances.
The Battle of Bunker Hill: Now We Are at War (42)
"Community Issues:" Have students investigate their community to find out if there was a significant issue, recent or long ago, that united or divided the local citizens; have students work together to prepare a report about this event and discuss other ways in which the problem could have been solved.
The Battle of Honey Springs: The Civil War Comes to the Indian Territory (68)
"Working Together Across Ethnic Lines:" Have students consider their communities and whether there are examples in which distinct groups previously at odds banded together to meet a common goal. After this discussion, assign a skit or a written or oral report where students further study and learn about their example.
The Battle of Mill Springs: The Civil War Divides a Border State (72)
"Community Action:" Have students find a memorial and describe it, including a physical description, what it says, and where it is located. Students may also want to research the history of this memorial.
Boston's Arnold Arboretum: A Place for Study and Recreation (56)
"Park Rules and Regulations:" In small groups, plan a new park or arboretum for the community. List the qualities and characteristics for a park or arboretum. Plan the type of open space and decide on the park rules. Discuss the effect of their choices on the characteristics the group defined in the beginning of the activity.
Building America's Industrial Revolution: The Boott Cotton Mills of Lowell, MA (21)
"The Mill as a System:" Have students identify elements that come together to produce a school system. List the positive and negative internal and external forces that affect the smooth running of the school system, and develop a plan for action that might moderate negative forces.
Californio to American: A Study in Cultural Change (8)
"Locating Significant and Local Properties:" Have students examine a property in their own community that is listed on the National Register or that students believe should be listed. Have them discuss which areas of significance they would use if they were preparing a nomination for that property, and how they would justify their decisions.
Camp Misty Mount: A Place for Regrowth (47)
"Recreation and Conservation:" In groups, have students locate and research a protected natural place in their area, and have each group present its findings to the class and discuss the quality of the remaining natural places. Have them write letters to public officials praising contributions, or appealing for conservation.
Chicago's Black Metropolis: Understanding History through a Historic Place (53)
"Nominating a Local Historic Place:" Ask each student to select a site, building, monument, or structure in their community that could be nominated for a local, state, or national register of historic places. Have them complete the action steps needed to create a narrative about the historic significance of that place. This activity could be extended to a large, cooperative project for a nomination to have the place listed in a local, state, or national register, or for a history fair, term paper, classroom display, or videotape.
Chicago's Columbus Park: The Prairie Idealized (81)
"Save that Site:" Have students research a historic or natural site, either in the community or beyond, which is endangered due to population pressures, pollution, development, etc.
"Green Scene:" Have students compile a list of native plants in order to design a park or garden for their school or community. Have them present the reasons why the project should be funded and implemented to the appropriate school, parks, town, or city officials.
Clara Barton's House: Home of the American Red Cross (27)
"Local Assistance Groups:" Have students (individually or in small groups) investigate organizations in their area which offer assistance, and have them discuss how each organization’s similarities helps meet the needs of the community. Have them brainstorm ways they could help members of their community.
"Comfortable Camps?" Archeology of the Confederate Guard Camp at the Florence Stockade (142)
"Learning about war veterans buried in your Community:" Have students conduct research on either a local or national cemetery and participate in a commemorative program like decorating graves with flags for Veterans and Memorial Day.
"Women in the Civil War:" Have students research and compare the experience of women in the Civil War to women in the military today. Ask the local VFW or American Legion Post to help identify veterans who would let students interview them.
Decatur House: A Home of the Rich and Powerful (19)
"Access to Power:" Have students choose a current issue they wish to express an opinion about to their state governor, and have students show their support or disapproval by petition, letter, fax, E-mail, telephone, or the news media. Students should consider and discuss if a personal visit would be effective.
“The Electric Project”: The Minidoka Dam and Powerplant (160)
• “How do you get your electricity?:” Have students work in groups to investigate power plants and stations in their community. Some of these facilities may be impressive structures that were sources of great local pride when they were first created. Ask the students to consider nominating these historic places to state or national registers.
The Emerald Necklace: Boston's Green Connection (86)
"Parks Brochure:" Have students work in groups to create a brochure of a local park or park system; the final product should be displayed and/or sent to the local parks commission.
"Landscape Fun:" Invite a local landscape architect to speak to the class and show students some before and after images of projects; ask students to work within a $50 budget to design a plan to beautify the school by the addition of some landscape elements.
Federal Courthouses and Post Offices: Symbols of Pride and Permanence in American Communities (97)
• "What If... :" Have students work in small groups to identify and conduct research on a courthouse, post office, or other government building in the area. Ask them to investigate the history of the building, its impact on the community when it was built, and the role it plays today. Have them incorporate what they have learned into a poster or exhibit for display at a local library or historical society.
First Lady of the World: Eleanor Roosevelt at Val-Kill (26)
"Local Volunteer Organizations:" Ask students to make a list of the volunteer groups and programs in their community that are dedicated to helping others. If the school has a community service program, ask students to consider volunteering a few hours of their time.
Floyd Bennett Field: Naval Aviation's Home in Brooklyn (120)
"Oral History Interview, World War II in the Local Community:" Ask students to interview either veterans or women who worked during World War II, study the effects of the war in their community and use that research to find sites where they can go on field trips, and help plan a program for Veterans Day or Memorial Day honoring local veterans.
Fiftieth Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act
"Activity 1:" Divide students into groups and ask each group to select a place from their community that is listed in the National Register of Historic Places or one that they think should be listed. After they have completed their research about their place, hold a class discussion about the benefits of preservation to the community. Have them share their findings to the PTA or a local historical organization in a Power Point presentation, a community walking tour, an exhibit, or a website.
"Activity 2:" For a more ambitious project, the class may whish to consider preparing a draft nomination form for one or more of the properties they investigated for the state inventory list or register or for a National Register nomination. Alternatively, students may write letters to local planners or work with local preservation organizations to preserve the places they identified.
The Frankish Building: A Reflection of the Success of Ontario, California (43)
"Determining Community Sites of Historic Significance:" Students in the class will learn how to identify and nominate eligible buildings to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). They will create a nomination for their home and a building in their community that they believe is eligible for inclusion on the Register.
Frederica: An 18th-Century Planned Community (31)
"Moving Day:" In groups that represent Frederica families, have students discuss what they would do when the fort closed. Have them consider how they would react if a modern military base, military industry installation, or a major factory that employed a large percentage of the town’s population closed.
Going-to-the-Sun Road: A Model of Landscape Engineering (95)
"Investigating the Local Community:" Have the students identify and research a road that they think is important to their community. Was there controversy about the road?
"The Great Chief Justice" at Home (49)
"Historic Sites in the Local Community:" Have students research a historic site in their community associated with an important figure and prepare a written report; have them read their reports aloud and participate in a classroom discussion on whether they feel it is important to preserve historic sites that are associated with important persons of the past.
“The Greatest Dam in the World”: Building Hoover Dam (140)
• "Hoover Dam and the Arid West :" Have students compare the supply of water available in the Colorado River with the needs of its consumers and consider the possible implications of what they find for the future of the region.
• "Public Works in the Local Community :" Have students work in small groups to identify and conduct research on public works in the area. Ask them to investigate the history of the examples they find and consider nominating them to state or national registers. If the properties need maintenance, the student may want to call that situation to the attention of local authorities.
Growing into Public Service: William Howard Taft's Boyhood Home (15)
"Leadership Characteristics:" Using the Taft family as an example, have students define characteristics associated with leadership and identify someone in their community who fits those characteristics. If possible, interview this person, using a set of student developed questions. Write a profile of the interviewee and submit it to the school or local newspaper. Have students write their governor, congress person, or senator using the same questions.
Guilford Courthouse: A Pivotal Battle in the War for Independence (32)
"Eyewitness Accounts:" Invite an eyewitness of a significant event (e.g. war battles or natural disasters) to speak to the class.
Harry Truman and Independence, Missouri: "This is Where I Belong" (103)
"The Place We Call Home:" Have students design and undertake a project to improve their neighborhood. Projects might include: a local cleanup project, planting trees, starting a community garden, or visiting elderly family friends or relatives to learn about local history.
Herbert Hoover: Iowa Farm Boy and World Humanitarian (34)
"Citizenship and the Local Community:" Have students construct a survey on the attitudes a cross section of their local community holds toward the concept of good citizenship. Then have them work in groups to discuss and tally responses. As a class discuss the results of the survey, develop a definition of good citizenship, and list ways in which they could act as good citizens in their own community.
Johnson Lake Mine: Mining for Tungsten in Nevada's Snake Range (110)
"Life During WWI:" Have students research how their community supported the World War I effort. Or, have students conduct an oral history on the life of a specific person who lived through WWI or WWII. Have the students make a class presentation on their findings.
The Joseph Bellamy House: The Great Awakening in Puritan New England (85)
"Historical Research in the Community:" In small groups, have students identify an individual who was prominent in the history of their community by investigating what documents, artifacts, historic places, and/or place names associated with the person remain in the town.
"Journey from Slavery to Statesman": The Homes of Frederick Douglass (147)
"Activity 4: Slavery All Over:" Have students research slavery in their state. How did state views compare with Douglass’s views on slavery? Have students look for an example of a modern social injustice and write an Op-Ed column with their point of view.
The Liberty Bell: From Obscurity to Icon (36)
"What Do Symbols Tell Us About Ourselves?:" Have students think of events that have occurred in their lifetimes that might one day become symbolized as important in American history.
Life on an Island: Early Settlers Off the Rock-Bound Coast of Maine (16)
"Local History:" Have students create their own historical museum with prepared documents of written short accounts of their own family history, family papers, and artifacts. Students should also write about their current lives or a current issue as if they were writing in 2050.
Lincoln Home National Historic Site: A Place of Growth and Memory (127)
"A Visit From a Hometown Politician:" Invite a locally elected official to talk to the class on his or her experience in politics, with students asking questions.
Little Kinnakeet Lifesaving Station: Home to Unsung Heroes (57)
"Today's Lifesavers:" Arrange for the class to visit a local fire station (or Coast Guard station if possible), and have students prepare a list of questions to ask a member of the rescue team. After the visit, hold a classroom discussion about how modern lifesaving procedures and conditions differ from those encountered by lifesavers of the U.S. Lifesaving Service.
“Making the Desert Bloom”: The Rio Grande Project (141)
• "The Future of the Rio Grande :" Have students compare projected changes in the supply of water available in the Rio Grande with the changing needs of the people who use the water, consider the implications of what they have found, and look for ways to mitigate any problems.
• "Where Does Your Water Come From? :" Have students work in groups to investigate the water system in their community. Ask them to consider nominating any historic places they find to state or national registers. If the properties need maintenance or repair, the students may want to call that situation to the attention of local authorities.
Mammoth Cave: Its Explorers, Miners, Archeologists, and Visitors (35)
"Caring for Local Resources:" In groups, have students investigate how one of their community’s established natural or historic resources is preserved. Have them take that knowledge and devise a preservation and conservation plan for another site they think ought to be preserved, but which is not yet protected.
Martin Van Buren's "Return to the Soil" (139)
"Political Cartoons:" Students will make a collection of current political cartoons from newspapers and news magazines. They will review several of the more biting political cartoons and decide if they believe exposure to ridicule and criticism is fair.
"Local Political Campaigns:" Have the class investigate the campaigns of a recent or current local political race. Have the class discuss the similarities and differences between modern local campaigns and national campaigns of the 1830s.
Memories of Montpelier: Home of James and Dolley Madison (46)
"A Historic Place in Your Neighborhood:" Have students find primary source evidence that describes the place, the people, and the daily lives of those that occupied a significant site in their community, and compare it with Montpelier. Have them work with their local historical society to develop a special exhibit for the community.
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site: Protecting a Legacy of the Cold War (128)
"Nuclear and Cold War: A Shadow Over the World:" Have students conduct oral histories with their parents or community members who remember the Cold War. Students should consider donating the oral histories to a local library or historical society to preserve these stories about the Cold War for future generations.
A Nation Repays Its Debt: The National Soldiers' Home and Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio (115)
"Explore Your Community for Memorials:" Have students locate and visit a war memorial in their community and have them create an exhibit for the school about the memorial. If the memorial needs to be conserved, have students prepare a letter to the city or local historical society asking them for help in preserving it.
"Local Cemeteries:" Have students inventory the veteran grave sites in the local cemetery and create a database and status report on the markers to present to the caretaker, get an unmarked grave marked with a headstone, and research how to clean and care for a historic gravestone or marker. Students should volunteer to help clean the headstones or help with the grounds upkeep.
North Carolina State Capitol: Pride of the State (61)
"Locating a Capital, A Proud Symbol, Classical Architecture in the Community:" In small groups, have students research towns in their state that seemed to have had a good chance to become the capital and the history of their state capitol building. Compare their state capitol building to one from another state.
The Old Court House in St. Louis: Yesterday & Today (9)
"Local and National Connections:" Have students search for examples of how their community is connected with the broader events of the nation. Have them determine where in their community such issues are debated. Write a short essay on the role of public buildings in modern communities.
President Lincoln's Cottage: A Retreat (138)
“Retreats in your Local Community:” Have students design a retreat for their own community and, if they wish, submit that design to their local government representative for consideration.
“Current Issues:” Have students research, summarize the arguments on both sides, and formulate a solution to a publicly contentious issue, as if they held elected office.
The Penniman House: A Whaling Story (112)
"Preserving the Night Sky:" Have students compare what is on a sky chart with what they can see on a clear night outside their homes. Have them discuss whether preserving the night sky is important and brainstorm suggestions that could help decrease sky glow in their community. Have them consider using their list to draft a letter to the city or county with their suggestions.
The Rockets' Red Glare": Francis Scott Key and the Bombardment of Fort McHenry (137)
• "Places That Define the Community" Ask the students to identify and investigate places that that are important to their community's identity and then create a walking tour to help visitors and newcomers understand what makes the community unique and special. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Saratoga: The Tide Turns on the Frontier (93)
"Soldiers and Settlement:" Ask students to research their community to determine if there are any descendants of participants in the American Revolution who live there. Students may wish to compile their findings on a large map with pushpins identifying the names and hometowns of the participants they locate.
Saugus Iron Works: Life and Work at an Early American Industrial Site (30)
"Researching Industries in the Local Community:" Have students research and visit sites in their community to discover what elements of its early growth were alike or different from the development of the Saugus Iron Works and the settlement of Hammersmith; students should discuss the history of the economic base of the town and write a short paper describing an industry they would like to promote.
These Honored Dead: The Battle of Rivers Bridge and Civil War Combat Casualties (94)
"Memories of War:" Have students interview a veteran of war or someone who lived on the home front during wartime. Write the account of the person's memories of war and present the results to the local library or historical society.
Thomas Jefferson's Plan for the University of Virginia: Lessons from the Lawn (92)
"Local Schools:" In small groups, have students research the history of their school. Ask students to share their findings in a written report, oral presentation, computer slide-show, model, or exhibit.
Two American Entrepreneurs: Madam C.J. Walker and J.C. Penney
"Starting a Business:" In small groups, have students brainstorm ideas for a new business that would be successful in today's society while considering the special needs of different groups of people, the types of products or services that would improve their lives, and the ways in which a new business might be developed in their own community.
The Vieux Carré: A Creole Neighborhood in New Orleans (20)
"Cultural Interaction:" Ask students to consider what happens when two different cultural groups live side by side, and have them think about the history of their community. They should write short papers describing the quality of ethnic relationships, and then discuss essays in class.
The Washington Monument: Tribute in Stone (62)
"Local Memorial Study:" Have students, alone or in groups, select a local memorial and identify the person being memorialized, investigate the memorial, photograph or make a drawing of the memorial, and present a report to the class.
A Woman's Place Is In the Sewall-Belmont House: Alice Paul and Women's Rights (148)
• "Beyond the Voting Booth:" Invite a local government official to visit your class and speak to students about civic engagement. Afterward, have each student choose a single issue to research, engage with outside of school, and then write a persuasive letter to a politician who they think can help them.

Lightning Lessons
Discover the Solar Eclipse of 1900 in Historic Wadesboro, NC (Lightning Lesson 4)
• "Get involved! Light Pollution and Night Skies in Your Community:" Students will study light pollution in their region and then write a persuasive essay, aimed to sway the reader to support policies that will improve night skies. Turn the lesson into civic action by having students sign their essays and mail them to a local elected official.
(back to top)
Compare and Contrast

Adeline Hornbek and the Homestead Act: A Colorado Success Story (67)
"Homesteading:" Have students work in small groups to research the effects of the Homestead Act in states west of the Mississippi, and have them compare each state to one another.
Andersonville: Prisoner of War Camp (11)
"Prisoner of War Camps, Interview a Former Prisoner of War:" Have students research the existence of prisoner of war (POW) camps in their local area, their state, or a nearby state, and then compare this prison with Andersonville; have students interview a former POW and compare his or her experience with that of the prisoners at Andersonville. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Arthurdale: A New Deal Community Experiment (157)
• "Discover the New Deal Homesteads:" Have students research New Deal homestead communities throughout the country. They will write a research paper about that homestead, describing what it was like in the 1930s and what remains of it today. Afterward, have each student present orally about how his or her community compares to Arthurdale.
At a Crossroads: The King of Prussia Inn (119)
"Endangered Sites:" Have students find out if there is a historic place in their community that is endangered, and in groups have students research the significance of one of the endangered places and what efforts are being made to preserve the place. Have the class compare each place to King of Prussia Inn.
Attu: North American Battleground of World War II (7)
"War and the Individual:" Encourage students to invite a veteran of a recent military engagement to speak to the class; after the presentation, have students compare the recent military engagement with the WWII battle, and have them write an essay on the role of ordinary soldiers during the crisis of war.
Back Stairs at Brucemore: Life as Servants in early 20th-Century America (105)
• "The Ideal and the Real:" Have students research ads, articles, advice columns, and cartoons that depict servants during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and place them on a bulletin board. Have students research current “Help Wanted" ads for different servant positions, and have them compare the current ads to the bulletin board of images.
• "Factory Work vs. Domestic Service:" Have students visit their local library and research women’s work opportunities in early 20th-century America. In class, hold a class discussion on the salaries for these jobs compared to the salaries listed in the account ledgers for Brucemore. If any of the information related to household work, how did the descriptions compare to work at Brucemore? Based on what students learned, have them discuss whether they would have preferred housework or factory work during that time period.
The Battle of Bentonville: Caring for Casualties of the Civil War (69)
• "The Other Side, A Popular Example, In Your Own Community:" Have students compare the Confederate’s system for transporting and treating the wounded with the Union’s system and how the Korean Conflict-era field hospital depicted in the television series M*A*S*H differed from the Civil War-era field hospital depicted in this lesson plan.
The Battle of Oriskany: "Blood Shed a Stream Running Down" (79)
• "In the Grip of Fear:" Have students produce a written, pictorial, or video report describing a controversial issue that has divided their community, and have them compare that issue with the Mohawk Valley civil war, U.S. Civil War, or civil wars on the international scene.
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania: A Moravian Settlement in Colonial America (59)
• "Mapping a Neighborhood:" Have students compare buildings in Bethlehem with the oldest buildings in their community, as well as comparing the oldest map or drawing of their community with Bethlehem.
The Battle of Prairie Grove: Civilian Recollections of the Civil War (70)
• "Modern Civil Wars:" Have students identify a current civil war, and have them find several stories in papers, magazines, or on television that show how this war has affected civilians. Have students compare this conflict with the Civil War, and present this information in a written report or orally to the class.
Camp Misty Mount: A Place for Regrowth (47)
• "Determining the Success of Jobs Programs:" Have students investigate the economic conditions in their community during the Depression. Identify the major businesses in the area today and devise a jobs program that would provide short-term employment and have long-term benefit for the community. Compare their ideas with the jobs programs of the 1930s.
The Carlisle Indian Industrial School: Assimilation with Education after the Indian Wars (163)
• "Historic American Indian Boarding Schools Beyond Carlisle:" The students should end their report with examples of how their school was similar to and different from Carlisle. They should use at least one primary source as evidence and at least one source created by a Native American who wrote about the school and/or graduated from it.

"Making Global Connections at Carlisle:" Assign different, specific colonial periods as research projects to your students working in pairs or small groups. Have each student group study their assigned colonial era and list the policies used by the colonial government to control the colonized culture. Then, have your students identify U.S. policies toward indigenous groups in the late 19th century and compare/contrast the policies of the two governments.

From Canterbury to Little Rock: The Struggle for Educational Equality for African Americans

• "From Canterbury to Little Rock:" Have students complete a chart comparing and contrasting Canterbury and Little Rock, using it to write a brief essay about the similarities and differences in the events that occurred at Canterbury and Little Rock.
Clara Barton's House: Home of the American Red Cross (27)
• "Dealing with Disasters:" Have the students compare the methods used by the early Red Cross to deal with local and national disasters under Barton's direction and the methods used by the modern organization, tracing how the methods of transportation and medical care have changed over the past 100 years.
• "Local Assistance Groups:" Have students discuss the similarities and differences among other organizations in their area which offer assistance. Compare the origins of these organizations with that of the Red Cross. Discuss how the similarities and differences help each organization meet the needs of the community.
"Comfortable Camps?" Archeology of the Confederate Guard Camp at the Florence Stockade (142)
"Women in the Civil War:" Have students research and compare the experience of women in the Civil War to women in the military today. Ask the local VFW or American Legion Post to help identify veterans who would let students interview them.
Decatur House: A Home of the Rich and Powerful (19)
• "What Makes a Hero?:" In groups, have students consider what makes a hero and why they think Stephen Decatur was considered a hero. Have them compare Decatur with present-day heroes who possess the characteristics they have defined, and as a class discuss their choices and their definitions of a hero.
“The Electric Project”: The Minidoka Dam and Powerplant (160)
• “Centuries of Change: How Everyday Life Has Changed Due to Electricity:” Have students keep diaries of how they accomplish everyday tasks with technology. Have them use the diary to compare and contrast their lives to a primary source document about housework in the 19th century and to information about life on the Minidoka Project.
• “Public vs. Private Power:” Have students write an essay that compares and contrasts the Minidoka Project to the Boulder Canyon Project. Essays should include a short discussion about the early 20th century debate over private vs. public utilities.
The Emerald Necklace: Boston's Green Connection (86)
• "Plan Your Own Greenway:" Have students look at modern and historical maps of their community to compare the type of information each map contains.
Enduring Awatovi: Uncovering Hopi Life and Work on the Mesa (156)
• "Two Views on Awatovi:" Have two student groups consider Hopi and anthropologist perspectives on Awatovi by developing questions and interviewing experts. Have the groups present and each student talk about their findings. Hold a class discussion to compare and contrast the two presentations.
Federal Courthouses and Post Offices: Symbols of Pride and Permanence in American Communities (97)
• "The Federal Judicial System:" Ask students to gather information about their state’s court system and compare the federal and state judicial systems in terms of types of cases heard, how judges are selected, etc.
Fort Morgan and the Battle of Mobile Bay (73)
• "Decisions in Warfare:" Have students write a paragraph that considers the balance between risk and recklessness, between courage and fool heartedness, and have them discuss their individual viewpoints with their classmates.
• "Building a Fort:" If a military installation existed in your region, have students discuss how it was similar and/or different from Fort Morgan.
Frederica: An 18th-Century Planned Community (31)
• "Planned Communities:" Have student research and compare different models and histories of planned communities in colonial and modern times, as well as their own community.
Going-to-the-Sun Road: A Model of Landscape Engineering (95)
• "Investigating the Local Community:" If possible, have students visit a current road-building project to see the type of work being done and how that work compares with the construction of the Going-to-the-Sun Road.
"The Great Chief Justice" at Home (49)
• "Assessing Public and Private Qualities Associated with Greatness:" In groups, have students identify and discuss the qualities of John Marshall that constituted his greatness, identify two or three living persons whom they regard as great, and compare their personal characteristics with Marshall’s.
“The Greatest Dam in the World”: Building Hoover Dam (140)
• "Which Job Would You Want?:" In groups, have students identify and discuss the various kinds of work necessary to build Hoover Dam, compare them, and decide which ones they would prefer to have themselves.
• ""Seven Wonders of the World":" Have students compare and contrast the historic "Seven Wonders of the World" with a list of "Seven Wonders of the United States" created in 1942, which included Hoover Dam.
Growing into Public Service: William Howard Taft's Boyhood Home (15)
• "Leadership Characteristics:" Have students compare the responses and discuss the types of character traits and leadership skills they found in common among local and national leaders, and the Tafts.
Guilford Courthouse: A Pivotal Battle in the War for Independence (32)
• "Eyewitness Accounts:" Have students compare what they learned from history texts or newspaper articles with actual eyewitness testimony; invite an eyewitness of a significant event (e.g. war battles or natural disasters) to speak to the class.
Harry Truman and Independence, Missouri: "This is Where I Belong" (103)
• "The Place We Call Home:" Have students compare their neighborhoods to the one that President Truman lived in for most of his life. Discuss similarities and differences between their surroundings and his in Independence.
The Hispano Ranchos of Northern New Mexico: Continuity and Change (96)
• "Comparing Early Building Techniques:" Have students find photographs or drawings of early settlers' houses on the east coast and discuss the difference between them and early homes in New Mexico.
• "Traditional Building and Cultural Identity:" Have students investigate whether there are surviving buildings or structures associated with their community’s early ethnic groups. If so, find examples of the same types of buildings from other parts of the country and compare them with the local examples. What might account for the differences?
• "Continuity and Change in the Community:" Have students investigate their community to find out about the first settlers there. Students should compare and list how customs have changed between the time of the first settlers and today.
"The Honor of Your Company is Requested": Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Ball at the Patent Office (143)
“Planning a Community Celebration:” Have students think about the role that formal ceremonies and rituals play in their lives. Then ask students to compare and contrast the requirements for these events from 1865 to today and apply their knowledge to develop a plan for a significant celebratory event.
Hopewell Furnace: A Pennsylvania Iron-making Plantation (97)
• "Economic History in the Local Community:" Have students research the economic history of their local community and state to find out how it resembled colonial Pennsylvania and Hopewell.
Iron Hill School: An African-American One-Room School (58)
• "Researching Philanthropists:" Have students define "philanthropy" and "philanthropist." Have students choose a philanthropist active during the Progressive Era and write a short essay describing how that person fits their definition of a philanthropist. Students should think of a contemporary philanthropist and compare their contribution to that of the person they researched.
• "Collecting Oral Histories:" Have students write a newspaper article about an alumnus of their school that illustrates the differences between a school day then and now.
Keys Ranch: Where Time Stood Still (65)
• "Local Community History:" In groups, have students research the history of their town to create a timeline (students should try to find and photograph buildings or monuments to illustrate their timeline). Have them compare and discuss the events of their timeline.
Knife River: Early Village Life on the Plains (1)
• "Making Comparisons:" Have students compare and discuss migratory Plains Indian and villagers to see what they think is the best way of life.
• "Researching Local Indians:" Have students compare what they learned about Indians from this lesson, from American history books, and from their individual research about Indian groups to draw conclusions about why cultures might differ.
Lafayette Park: First Amendment Rights on the President’s Doorstep (139)
• "Following in the Women's Footsteps:" Ask students to compare the National Woman's Party's campaign with other protests that have taken place in Lafayette Park. How was it the same? How did it differ?
• "Women and Violence:" Students may want to compare the suffrage campaign with other non-violent campaigns for political change, such as Gandhi's campaign for Indian independence or the American Civil Rights Movement.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition: Documenting the Uncharted Northwest (108)
• "Creating Maps:" Have students walk around their neighborhood or school and document their visual interpretations in the form of a map, and have them compare their maps to an actual map of the school grounds or their neighborhood. Display the maps in the classroom.
Life on an Island: Early Settlers Off the Rock-Bound Coast of Maine (16)
• "Living on an Island:" Have two groups research everyday life in the early 1800s for people living in their own community or region. One group will describe the similarities of life in their community to the life of the Hadlocks and the Gilleys, while the other group should point out the differences.
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial: Where Man and Memory Intersect (144)
“The Lincoln Portrait:” Play Aaron Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait” and have students compare and contrast it with parts of the Lincoln Boyhood Memorial.
Lincoln Home National Historic Site: A Place of Growth and Memory (127)
• "A Visit from a Hometown Politician:" Invite a locally elected official to talk to the class on his or her experience in politics, with students asking questions. Hold a class discussion where students compare the local official and Abraham Lincoln.
Log Cabins in America: The Finnish Experience (4)
• "Folk Housing:" Have students find the most common type of folk housing in their region. If log buildings, see if they find any Finnish influences. If another type, have students compare the structures to log cabins noting the similarities and differences and the amount of space the buildings have compared with a typical one-pen log cabin.
• "Modern Log Housing:" Some students might enjoy reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie to examine the techniques used by the Ingalls family to build their log house in comparison to what is used locally today.
“Making the Desert Bloom”: The Rio Grande Project (141)
• "To Irrigate or Not to Irrigate?:" Divide the students in two groups. Ask one group to study the Rio Grande Project. Ask the other group to investigate farming in the area where they live. Ask each group to make a presentation to the class and then hold a whole class discussion comparing agriculture in the Rio Grande valley and in their own area.
• "Progressivism and the Reclamation Act:" Divide the class into small groups and ask each group to investigate a piece of Progressive legislation passed between 1903 and 1906. Have each group report to the class and then hold a whole class discussion comparing these laws with the 1902 Reclamation Act.
Martin Van Buren's "Return to the Soil" (39)
• "Comparing Presidents:" Have students research and write a paper comparing the financial panic and depression of 1837, the Great Depression that began in 1929, and the positions of Martin Van Buren and Herbert Hoover on the role of the government in ending the depression.
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site: Protecting a Legacy of the Cold War (128)
• "The Minuteman: Part of our future or relic of the past?:" Divide students into teams. Each team should research the Minuteman's role in the United States national defense system today, whether deterrence is still an effective means in avoiding armed conflict, or current U.S. military conflicts. Hold a class discussion comparing and contrasting how today's conflicts differ from the Cold War.
Memories of Montpelier: Home of James and Dolley Madison (46)
• "Slavery and Freedom:" In a classroom discussion, have students put themselves into the mindset of James Madison to try to justify the institution of slavery as they believe he would have done. Also have students explain slavery from the point of view of Paul Jennings, a slave of the Madisons’ and later a free man. Then have students compare and contrast the concepts of justice and fairness during different historical time periods.
• "A Historic Place in Your Neighborhood:" Have students find primary source evidence that describes the place, the people, and the daily lives of those that occupied a significant site in their community, and compare it with Montpelier.
Mount Auburn Cemetery: A New American Landscape (84)
• "Observing the Landscape:" Arrange for students to visit a local landscape and ask them to compare the landscape with that of Mount Auburn, identify how people of their community use this landscape, assess their emotional reaction to it, and explain why they have that feeling. Students may describe their experience either by writing about it or creating a graphic representation.
North Carolina State Capitol: Pride of the State (61)
• "A Proud Symbol:" Have students work in groups to conduct research on the history of their state capitol building. Then have each group compare their state capitol building to one from another state.
The Ohio and Erie Canal: Catalyst of Economic Development for Ohio (41)
• "Life on the Ohio & Erie Canal:" Have students pretend to be a canal construction worker, a captain (or wife of a captain), or a crew member on a canal boat, and have them write diary or journal entries about living on the Ohio & Erie Canal during its heyday. Students should compare accounts and summarize the different aspects of life described.
• "The Importance of Transportation Systems:" Have students work in groups to create a timeline or illustrated map of the nation’s transportation history, research a local transportation route or transportation system in order to create a local timeline or map, and compare both timelines or maps for class discussion.
The Old Mormon Fort: Birthplace of Las Vegas, Nevada (122)
• "Manifest Destiny:" Have students research the westward movement with emphasis on the Mormons. Compare and contrast what they learned with what they know about the settlement of the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort, and present their research and findings in a report and presentation.
The Penniman House: A Whaling Story (112)
• "Preserving the Night Sky:" Have students compare what is on a sky chart with what they can see on a clear night outside their homes.
• "A New Age, A New Way of Thinking:" Have students research “marine protected areas,” The Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the Federal Endangered Species Act. After comparing the regulations for each act and discussing their purpose, have teams debate if whale watching is harmful to whale populations.
Remembering Pearl Harbor: The USS Arizona Memorial (18)
"Comparing Textbook Accounts:" Have students read an American and Japanese account of Pearl Harbor and have them cite differences between the two. Have them develop an outline of the information they think should be included in both U.S. and Japanese texts, and then compare the outlines and discuss differences.
"Examining War Memorials:" Have students compare memorials from different wars by listing the materials they are made of, the size of the monument, the prominence of the memorial in its surroundings, and the dedicatory inscriptions found on the memorial.
The Rockets' Red Glare": Francis Scott Key and the Bombardment of Fort McHenry (137)
• "Debating the War of 1812:" Have students create charts or matrixes comparing the positions of different political parties, different economic groups, and different areas of the country before the outbreak of the War of 1812, during the war, and immediately after it. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
The Rosenwald Schools: Progressive Era Philanthropy in the Segregated South (159)
• “Research Progressive Era Leaders:“ Lead a class discussion for your students to compare and contrast the goals, methods, and accomplishments of other Progressive leaders with those of Booker T. Washington and Julius Rosenwald.
Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site: Home of a Gilded Age Icon (48)
• "Local Wonders:" Have students identify and research monuments in their own community (students should visit and photograph the monument). Students should compare the imagery, style, and power to evoke emotion, realism, or symbolism with the type employed by Saint-Gaudens. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
San Antonio Missions: Spanish Influence in Texas (2)
• "Comparing Spanish and English Colonial Policy:" Have students use a U.S. history textbook to compare Spanish and English approaches of colonization.
• "Researching the Community:" Have students research their community to discover which religious groups were among the first settlers, and then compare their community's experience with that of San Antonio; ask students to also compare the architectural styles of different religious buildings.
Skagway: Gateway to the Klondike (75)
• "Gold Rushes:" Have each student select one of the gold rushes that occurred in other parts of the country and compare and contrast it to the Klondike Gold Rush. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
The Siege of Port Hudson: "Forty Days and Nights in the Wilderness of Death" (71)
• "Your Community under Attack:" Have groups of students explore severe natural or social pressures that their community has endured--floods, hurricanes, drought, riots, etc. Discuss the similarities and differences between the stress of siege warfare and other kinds of severe pressures.
The Spanish Treasure Fleets of 1715 and 1733: Disasters Strike at Sea (129)
"Preserving Local Historic Resources:" As a class, have students create a chart comparing some of the preservation issues faced by their community's local sites and the shipwreck sites. Headings for the chart should include Natural Threats and Manmade threats.
Thomas Jefferson's Plan for the University of Virginia: Lessons from the Lawn (92)
• "Education through the Generations:" Have students interview their parents about the school(s) they attended when they were the students' age. Compare the information gathered with the information about their own school, and present their findings with an exhibit, computer slide show, oral presentation, or written report.
Tonto National Monument: Saving a National Treasure (125)
• "Cliff Dwelling Research:" Have students in groups research a cliff dwelling site. Compare it with the history and building structures of Tonto National Monument.
The Trail of Tears and the Forced Relocation of the Cherokee Nation (118)
• "American Indian Relocation:" Have four groups of students research one of the following tribes: Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole. Each group should compare their tribe with that of the Cherokee and present a report to the class, and/or create an exhibit for their school and community. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Two American Entrepreneurs: Madam C.J. Walker and J.C. Penney
• "Comparing Walker and Penney:" Have students compare and discuss the careers of Madam C. J. Walker and J. C. Penney.
• "Changes in Advertising:" Divide the class into groups with the task of analyzing 10 different kinds of advertisements. Compare recent advertisements with the Walker or Penny ads, and develop an ad for a product or store.
• "Researching a Local Business:" Have students choose a successful local business to research its founding and operation, and compare the information found with the origins of both the Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company and the J. C. Penney Company.
Ulysses S. Grant and Julia Dent Grant at White Haven Farm: The Missouri Compromise in American Life (154)
"Experiences of Americans' Enslavement:" Have small student groups research the slave experience in a different states to analyze it alongside the experience of slavery at White Haven in Missouri. Each student should write a paragraph comparing and contrasting the two experiences.
The United States Air Force Academy: Founding a Proud Tradition (114)
• "Comparing Military Academies:" Have students research either the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, or the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. Compare their chosen academy with the Air Force Academy, and design an exhibit to present their findings.
The Vieux Carré: A Creole Neighborhood in New Orleans (20)
• "Architectural Change, The Local Community:" Ask students to look at pictures of French and American influenced buildings, have them list their observations on the similarities and differences of the styles of buildings. Ask students to point out differences between their local surroundings and the Vieux Carré.
The War Relocation Centers of World War II: When Fear Was Stronger than Justice (89)
• "The Rights of Citizens:" Have students prepare a list of the rights a citizen has that the Constitution and Bill of Rights protects. Have them compare their lists and discuss whether there are any circumstances when unconstitutional behavior by the government can be justified.
• "Lest We Forget:" Have the class study the treatment of groups that were considered “enemy aliens,” and compare the treatment of these groups with the Japanese American experience in World War II; students should find out if their community has ever treated people unfairly out of fear, and write an essay about that situation or interview someone who experienced such an event.
Waterford, Virginia: From Mill Town to National Historic Landmark (88)
• "Change Over Time in Your Town:" Have students compare the historic occupations of their community or neighborhood with the current occupations noting the differences and similarities.
Wheat Farms, Flour Mills, and Railroads: A Web of Interdependence (106)
• "Change Over Time in the Community:" Have students write a short paper in which they compare the development of their community with that of Minneapolis. Have them note similarities, differences, and changes over time.
When Rice Was King (3)
• "Laying Out a Plantation:" Ask students to draw a sketch map showing how they would have laid out a plantation if they had been an architect and landscape designer in the 18th century. They should compare their sketches and discuss the similarities and differences.
• "Researching the Contribution of Different Cultures:" Have students determine what ethnic/religious groups settled in their community, and in teams research one of the groups. Have each team report back on what they learned, and discuss the similarities of the ethnic/religious groups and the amount of influence they have today.
Ybor City: Cigar Capital of the World (51)
• "Local Community History:" In three groups, have students research aspects of their community's history, summarize their findings, and discuss the similarities and differences between the history of their community and Ybor City.
Lightning Lessons

Lightning Lessons

Discover Colonel Young's Protest Ride for Equality and Country (Lightning Lesson 2)
• " 'The First Draft of History': News Reporting and the Historian's Challenge:" First, provide students with a copy of the primary sources below. Ask them to identify similarities and differences in the two accounts published in leading African American publications, the Cleveland Advocate and the nationally-read paper, The Crisis. Then, guide a class discussion to go over their observations or have students write down their compare/contrast observations as lists.
Discover the African Burial Ground National Monument (Lightning Lesson 3)
• " 'Tracing Paths and Exploring Destinations of the Middle Passage:" Have students use an online resource to study the Middle Passage and the different conditions of enslavement, laws regulating slavery, and attitudes toward slavery across the world during the era of the global, African slave trade. They will write an essay based on their findings and compare/contrast different systems of slavery.

(back to top)

Creative Writing/Story Telling


The Battle of Mill Springs: The Civil War Divides a Border State (72)
• "Choosing Sides:" Have students create a Civil War-era character for themselves, and then have each write a short speech in which they explain who they are, which side they will support, and why.
• "Soldiers’ View:" Have students assume the role of a Confederate soldier at Mill Springs towards the end of the battle, who writes a note to a loved one to be delivered if the author is killed.
The Battle of Stones River: The Soldiers' Story (40)
• "Monument Inscriptions:" Working in pairs, have students choose one of the inscriptions on the Hazen Brigade Monument to study; have each pair create its own inscription for the Hazen monument.
Embattled Farmers and the Shot Heard Round the World: The Battles of Lexington and Concord (150)
"Recitation: “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere”:" Have students read and analyze the poet Longfellow’s “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.” Then, have them select an event in recent history and write their own poem to tell the story of the event.
The Siege and Battle of Corinth: A New Kind of War (113)
• "Eyewitness to History:" Have students take on the role of either a Union or Confederate soldier, and then write letters to family or friends or write articles for their hometown newspapers describing their experiences.
Going-to-the-Sun Road: A Model of Landscape Engineering (95)
• "Working in a Park:" Using the reading by Frank Kittredge as a model, have students write a letter to a friend (real or imaginary) describing both the work they did on a typical day and the place where they did it.
"The Honor of Your Company is Requested": Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Ball at the Patent Office (143)
“Telling the Story:” Have students review primary sources and texts in the unit and do research in local or state historical newspapers so that they can write a newspaper story, letter, or diary entry about the inaugural ball from the perspective of someone who would have attended.
The Joseph Bellamy House: The Great Awakening in Puritan New England (85)
"Letter Writing:" In groups or individually, ask the students to imagine they are theology students boarding with Reverend Bellamy and his family. Have them write a letter to their parents describing their teacher—Reverend Bellamy—their surroundings, and what they are learning.
"Journey from Slavery to Statesman": The Homes of Frederick Douglass (147)
"Activity 1: The Life and Times of Me:" Have students interview a writer to learn how hard it is to write a book and then have them write a few pages of their own autobiography. There are several questions to prompt students.
Keys Ranch: Where Time Stood Still (65)
• "Self-Reliance:" Have students write a creative essay on their views of self-reliance.
Little Kinnakeet Lifesaving Station: Home to Unsung Heroes (57)
• "Shipwrecks and Rescues:" Have groups of three or four write a short story about a shipwreck that could have occurred along North Carolina's Outer Banks during the late 19th century.
Mammoth Cave: Its Explorers, Miners, Archeologists, and Visitors (35)
• "Touring Mammoth Cave:" Have students write a letter to a friend describing Mammoth Cave and their tour experience of the caves as if they had visited the cave in 1848.
Navesink Lighthouse and Robbins Reef Lighthouse: Lighting the Way through New York Bay (131)
• "Living at a Lighthouse:" Have students imagine they are a lighthouse keeper or lighthouse keeper’s wife or child. Write a diary or journal entry about what life was like for them living at Navesink Lighthouse or Robbins Reef Lighthouse in the late 19th or early 20th century.
New Kent School and the George W. Watkins School: From Freedom of Choice to Integration (104)
• "First Person Account:" Have students write a journal entry from the perspective of a person who lived and experienced segregation in schools. Students should take into account the time between the Brown decision and the Green decision, and the subsequent integration of public schools.
The Octagon of Washington, D.C.: The House that Helped Build a Capital (151)
"A Letter from the 19th Century:" Have students each pick and then research a historical figure and an event. Ask them each to use what they learned to write a letter about the event they chose and their lives in the capital city.
The Ohio and Erie Canal: Catalyst of Economic Development for Ohio (41)
• "Life on the Ohio & Erie Canal:" Have students pretend to be a canal construction worker, a captain (or wife of a captain), or a crew member on a canal boat, and have them write diary or journal entries about living on the Ohio & Erie Canal during its heyday. Students should compare accounts and summarize the different aspects of life described.
Remembering Pearl Harbor: The USS Arizona Memorial (18)
• "Pearl Harbor and the Casualties of War:" Have students imagine they are reporters at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor and write a short paper describing how they would have covered the news for their local daily papers including information about the surprise attack, the sinking of the Arizona, and the statistics about the casualties.
The Rockets' Red Glare": Francis Scott Key and the Bombardment of Fort McHenry (137)
• "You Are There:" Ask students to imagine they were soldiers inside Fort McHenry during the bombardment and to write a letter home describing their experience.
• "Whose Star-Spangled Banner?:" Ask the students to identify for themselves what they think the ideals of the nation should be and to write a patriotic song that represents those ideals.
The Shields-Ethridge Farm: The End of a Way of Life (145)
• "Hanging by a Thread:" Have students imagine living in 1920 on the Shields-Ethridge Farm, then have them write a story about picking cotton and what a day might be like when everyone was in the fields.
Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
These Honored Dead: The Battle of Rivers Bridge and Civil War Combat Casualties (94)
• "Your Account of a Civil War Battle:" After reviewing the readings, have students write two brief personal accounts on being a casualty or seeing a comrade become a casualty: one as a letter to a family member shortly after the battle and the other as an account of the same event as the memoir of an old soldier looking back many years later.
Thurmond: A Town Born from Coal Mines and Railroads (28)
• "Recognizing Others:" Have students identify characteristic elements of a ballad. Then, research a recent transportation disaster and write a ballad about the calamity.
The War Relocation Centers of World War II: When Fear Was Stronger than Justice (89)
• "Being There:" Have students imagine they are Japanese American young people living in California in 1941. Have them create diary entries that describe how they felt when they heard about the Pearl Harbor attack, when they read about the need to remove people like them from their homes, when they saw the posted evacuation order, and when they first saw the relocation center.
Waterford, Virginia: From Mill Town to National Historic Landmark (88)
• "A Step Back in Time:" Ask students to imagine they lived in Waterford in the 19th century, and have them write a story about their experiences either helping with the wheat harvest or at the mill.

Lightning Lessons

Discover the African Burial Ground National Monument (Lightning Lesson 3)
• "Honoring Ancestors through Poetry:" Students will read Maya Angelou's famous poem, Still I Rise, and then write their own poem to honor their heritage. The poem should reflect an understanding of textbook content, as the students believes it relates to their lives.

(back to top)

Debating


Alaska's Site Summit: Cold War Defense and its Legacy in the North (153)
• "Competing Ideologies:" Have students take the Soviet or the United States’ side in the Cold War ideological debate, research their topic, and then write a persuasive essay imagining that the audience is a neutral nation. Hold a formal class debate if time permits.
Allegheny Portage Railroad: Developing Transportation Technology (23)
• "Innovation and Industrialization:" Have students discuss how the U.S. has imported and exported technological innovations; divide the class in half, and hold a debate on the pros and cons of changes in technology.
The Battle of Bennington: An American Victory (107)
• "The People, the Cause, the Land, the Strategy:" Have students work in small groups to evaluate and debate the Battle of Bennington and the factors that led to the battle’s outcome.
The Battle of Bunker Hill: Now We Are at War (42)
• "Rebellion Then and Now:" Have students defend the government or rebels’ positions.
The Battle of Glorieta Pass: A Shattered Dream (91)
• "War Memorials in the Local Community:" Have students debate the value of honoring events and preserving the places where they occurred.
The Battle of Horseshoe Bend: Collision of Cultures (54)
• "What Else Was Happening?:" In groups, have students decide if certain key events in world history were connected to Horseshoe Bend and, if so, how. Have them debate their answers with the rest of the class.
Brown v. Board: Five Communities That Changed America (121)
• "The United States Supreme Court:" Divide students into groups and ask each group to choose a landmark Supreme Court case to investigate. After completing their research, ask each group to role play the basic arguments for both sides in front of the rest of the class.
Bryce Canyon National Park: Hoodoos Cast Their Spell (64)
• "To Make Public, or Not to Make Public:" Have students participate in a debate over land use based on a hypothetical scenario. After both groups have presented their argument and given a rebuttal, have the class vote on which side they would take and which side they think presented the best argument.
Californio to American: A Study in Cultural Change (8)
• "Determining National Register Eligibility:" Ask students to discuss whether they agree that Rancho Los Alamitos has enough historical importance to be included in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) based on the requirements for inclusion on the Register.
Coffeyville, Kansas: The Town That Stopped the Dalton Gang (99)
• "Taking the Law into Our Own Hands:" In teams, have students debate whether they think certain circumstances justify people taking the law into their own hands.
Decatur House: A Home of the Rich and Powerful (19)
• "Comparing Presidents:" Have students research and write a paper comparing the financial panic and depression of 1837, the Great Depression that began in 1929, and the positions of Martin Van Buren and Herbert Hoover on the role of the government in ending the depression.
Digging into the Colonial Past: Archeology and the 16th-Century Spanish Settlements at Charlesfort-Santa Elena (155)
•"Creating a Historical Argument:" Individually or in small groups, have students use historical evidence to argue which settlement in North America should be considered the first. Students can present their work using persuasive essay, a debate, an oral presentation, or a poster board presentation.
First Lady of the World: Eleanor Roosevelt at Val-Kill (26)
• "The Declaration of Human Rights:" Have the class compare the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the American Bill of Rights. In groups, have students write their own Declaration of Human Rights, and if the document provokes controversy have students discuss why and changes they could make.
Federal Courthouses and Post Offices: Symbols of Pride and Permanence in American Communities (97)
• "The National Register of Historic Places:" Ask students to visit the National Register of Historic Places website and then describe in their own words the process by which a building is nominated and listed. The class as a whole can debate the value of documenting and officially recognizing historic resources.
First Battle of Manassas: An End to Innocence (12)
• "Manassas National Battlefield:" Have students debate this statement: "The United States should continue to maintain historic sites that commemorate important battle sites even though little substantial remains exist." Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Fort Hancock: A Bastion of America's Eastern Seaboard (37)
• "Continued Evolution of Defenses:" The weapons installed at Fort Hancock cost hundreds of millions of dollars yet in nearly 100 years have not been used. Have a debate on whether the money was therefore wasted or were the weapons possibly the reason that New York Harbor remained safe?
• "Your Community-Defense and the Economy:" Have students research their own community to determine if there are any military installations or arms manufacturers nearby, and have them research what has happened to them since 1980. Then hold a debate on the effects of a military installation or defense factory in their community.
Frederica: An 18th-Century Planned Community (31)
• "Reconstruction or Preservation:" Divide the students into two groups and have them prepare for a debate on whether the village and fort of Frederica, Georgia, should be rebuilt to their former appearances or be preserved in their present condition and interpreted as archeological sites.
Going-to-the-Sun Road: A Model of Landscape Engineering (95)
• "Use a Park or Preserve It?:" Divided into two groups. Have one argue for the restriction of visitors allowed into the park in order to conserve it, and the second group defend their right to use the facilities when and as they choose; each group should develop and present at least three arguments for their point of view.
Guilford Courthouse: A Pivotal Battle in the War for Independence (32)
"Hold a Debate:" Hold an informal classroom debate in which one side supports the contention that the British won the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, and the other maintains that the British lost (or the Americans won).
Johnson Lake Mine: Mining for Tungsten in Nevada's Snake Range (110)
• "The Mind of the Archeologist/The Mind of the Public:" Split the class into two groups for a debate, with one group arguing why it might be important to restrict public access to archeological sites, and the other side arguing the importance of allowing unrestricted public access to them.
Knife River: Early Village Life on the Plains (1)
• "Making Comparisons:" Divide students into two groups, have one group represent the migratory Plains Indians and the other representing villagers. Each group should list why their way of life is best and present their argument to the class.
The Liberty Bell: From Obscurity to Icon (36)
• "Why is the Crack in the Liberty Bell So Important?:" Have students engage in a debate on the question: "The crack in the Liberty Bell is a necessary component to its importance as a symbol to Americans and people from other nations."
• "What Do Symbols Tell Us about Ourselves?:" Have students debate whether they think people prefer legends or the truth and why.
Martin Van Buren's "Return to the Soil" (39)
• "Democrats and Whigs:" In two groups, Democrats and Whigs, have the students research the activities of their assigned party. Each group should select a person to act as a presidential candidate and debate his or her opponent, and afterwards they should decide how they might have voted.
North Carolina State Capitol: Pride of the State (61)
"Locating a Capital:" In small groups, have students research the towns in their state that might have had a good chance of becoming their state’s capital. Have the class debate where they would locate the state capital.
The No. 2 Quincy Shaft-Rockhouse: 9,240 Feet into the Earth (152)
• “The Company’s or the Community’s Town:” The paternalism system and the company towns it created were once common in the U.S. Have students explore the pros and cons of this system, split the class into teams (organized labor vs. industry barons), and moderate a debate between the teams.
The Octagon of Washington, D.C.: The House that Helped Build a Capital (151)
"Capital Decision: An informal debate:" Have the class discuss regional tensions in the United States that led to the debate over where to establish the U.S. capital city. Then, have students break into small groups of 3-4. Have each student choose one side, research his or her position, debate within his or her group, and submit a short persuasive essay summarizing his or her arguments.
The Penniman House: A Whaling Story (112)
• "A New Age, A New Way of Thinking:" Have students research “marine protected areas,” The Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the Federal Endangered Species Act; after comparing the regulations for each act and discussing their purpose, have teams debate if whale watching is harmful to whale populations.
President Lincoln's Cottage: A Retreat (138)
• “Current Issues:” After students research a current issue over which there is obvious public dispute, stage a debate between two or more students holding different opinions.
San Antonio Missions: Spanish Influence in Texas (2)
• "Comparing Spanish and English Colonial Policy:" Have a classroom discussion in which students debate the pros and cons of Spain’s and England’s colonization policies.
Thaw in the Cold War: Eisenhower and Khrushchev at Gettysburg (29)

• "Researching Why Eisenhower Never Visited the Soviet Union:" In groups, have students research and debate the importance of the 1960 U­2 crash in the Soviet Union. Following a discussion on turning points in history, ask students to decide what they think might have happened if the U-2 incident had not occurred.
• "International Diplomacy :" Have the class name some events from the 1960s to the present that involved international diplomacy, and have groups of students research one of those events. For each event, hold a debate on which party the class believes was most "right" in their views.
The Shields-Ethridge Farm: The End of a Way of Life (145)
• "The Rebuke of History:" Have students hold a debate on two topics that continue to intrigue historians and question the decision to close the sharecroppers’ village.
The Siege of Port Hudson: "Forty Days and Nights in the Wilderness of Death" (71)
• "The Life of a Soldier:" Divide the class into two sections to debate the idea that siege warfare is more horrible and stressful than open, or "regular," battles or that during a siege, the defenders are more heroic.
The Spanish Treasure Fleets of 1715 and 1733: Disasters Strike at Sea (129)
• "Take Only Photos and Leave Only Bubbles:" Have students debate the following questions: Is it important to protect underwater resources such as the Urca de Lima and the San Pedro? Why or why not? Is it important to allow the public access to these sites? Why or why not?
Tonto National Monument: Saving a National Treasure (125)
• "Preservation Debate:" Have students research the history of a preservation controversy in their community; have two groups debate whether they favor preservation or development. As a class vote on their position explaining which side they think presented the best argument.
The Trail of Tears and the Forced Relocation of the Cherokee Nation (118)
• "Ridge vs. Ross:" In two groups, have students debate and defend the position of Cherokees who were in favor of a treaty with the U.S. or those against it. After the class hears the arguments, have them vote on whether they should approve the treaty as if they were member of the Cherokee National Council. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Wheat Farms, Flour Mills, and Railroads: A Web of Interdependence (106)
• "The Web of Interdependence:" Have students walk around their neighborhood or school and document their visual interpretations in the form of a map, and have them compare their maps to an actual map of the school grounds or their neighborhood. Display the maps in the classroom.
Lightning Lessons
Discover Colonel Young's Protest Ride for Equality and Country: A Lightning Lesson from Teaching with Historic Places, featuring the historic Colonel Charles Young House (Lightning Lesson 2)
• "Breaking Barriers to Military Service in American History:" After your students investigate and do the research, either individually or in their groups, they will put together a report to explain who they studied, what the civil rights issue was/is, and the history of the issue. The report should explain the current situation with the issue and the students’ thoughts on the future of the issue. The report may be presented in written analysis or oral form. Following the reporting of information, the class could engage in a debate on the issues surrounding the topic, such as for or against women on the front lines.
Design/Building

Arthurdale: A New Deal Community Experiment (157)
• "Plan Your Own Community:" Have students design a perfect community. They will write a short report to describe the community and then use graph paper to lay out the town, labeling features and buildings. Display the communities in the school or, if possible, digitize students' work and create a class blog or website to feature their designs.
Building America's Industrial Revolution: The Boott Cotton Mills of Lowell, MA (21)
• "Building a Mill:" Have students compile a list of the basic things necessary to build a mill and ask them to speculate how a four- or five-story mill building would have been constructed. Students who are interested in how textile mills were constructed and operated might elect to build a three-dimensional model of a mill and explain what would be a proper location for it.
Californio to American: A Study in Cultural Change (8)
• "The Ranch House:" Have students construct a model of the Rancho Los Alamitos using cardboard or any other practical material. Some may choose to draw their conception of what the house looked like during the various stages of its construction.
Chicago's Columbus Park: The Prairie Idealized (81)
• "Green Scene:" Have students design a park or garden for their school or community using native plants and materials.
"Comfortable Camps?" Archeology of the Confederate Guard Camp at the Florence Stockade (142)
"Design a Campground:" Divide the class into smaller groups. Each group will decide whether to design a campground for the guards or the prisoners. Have each group present their design and diorama to the class and explain why they created the camp the way they did.
Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park: Where the Wright Brothers Conquered the Air (111)
• "The Roots of Invention:" Have each student develop his or her own invention with detailed drawings or a model.
Embattled Farmers and the Shot Heard Round The World: The Battles of Lexington and Concord (150)
"Local Commemoration:" Have small student groups design a memorial to an important local figure and then give persuasive speeches to win the class’s vote for best memorial. The class will then take the winner’s design, polish it, and then present the idea to local government as a service learning project.
The Emerald Necklace: Boston's Green Connection (86)
• "Parks Brochure:" Have students work in groups to create a brochure of a local park or park system. The final product should be displayed and/or sent to the local parks commission.
• "Landscape Fun:" Invite a local landscape architect to speak to the class and show students some before and after images of projects. Ask students to work within a $50 budget to design a plan to beautify the school by the addition of some landscape elements.
Federal Courthouses and Post Offices: Symbols of Pride and Permanence in American Communities (97)
• "What If...:" Divide students into small groups and ask each group to find and conduct research on a federal, state, or county building (a courthouse, post office, general government building) in their area. At least one of the groups should first consult GSA’s Historic Buildings Database to find out if there is a GSA building in their community. Direct each group to prepare a visual presentation such as a poster or exhibit that describes the building itself, its use over time, and how the building functions in the community.
Gran Quivira: A Blending of Cultures in a Pueblo Indian Village (66)
• "Constructing a Model of a Pueblo:" Have groups of three or four students build a model of one of the components of the village of Gran Quivira, then put the completed models on dried grass and dirt covered poster boards and assemble the village. Afterwards show the completed pueblo to other classes.
Harry Truman and Independence, Missouri: "This is Where I Belong" (103)
• "The Place We Call Home:" Have students design and undertake a project to improve their neighborhood. Projects might include a local cleanup project, planting trees, starting a community garden, or visiting elderly family friends or relatives to learn about local history.
The Hispano Ranchos of Northern New Mexico: Continuity and Change (96)
• "Comparing Early Building Techniques:" Have students find photographs or drawings of early settlers' houses on the east coast and discuss the difference between them and early homes in New Mexico. Have students make adobe bricks so they can visualize them.
The Invention Factory: Thomas Edison's Laboratories (25)
• "The Invention Process:" In groups of five, have students work together as a team to design and produce a new vehicle. After all vehicles have been built, described, and tested, hold a full class discussion on why students think some vehicles worked and some did not.
The Joseph Bellamy House: The Great Awakening in Puritan New England (85)
• "Gravestone Design:" Have students visit a local cemetery and study a modern grave marker to analyze what values and beliefs are reflected in the design and imagery of the marker. Students should select a prominent local figure now living and design that person's gravestone and epitaph.
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial: Where Man and Memory Intersect (144)
“Designing a Memorial:” Have students divide into groups and decide on an American, male or female, historic or contemporary that they believe should be honored with a memorial. Using whatever materials are available to them, have students create a model of their memorial.
Log Cabins in America: The Finnish Experience (4)
• "Role Play:" Have students pretend they are early farmers in the community in which they reside, and have them draw a sketch of their first home and of the outbuildings they will need for farm work.
Not to Be Forgotten: Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery (123)
• "Design a Memorial:" Using familiar memorial forms, symbolism, and materials, have students design an appropriate soldier’s memorial and identify a location for it.
Roadside Attractions (6)
• "Form, Fantasy, and Design:" Have students split into groups, with each group redesigning a city block that includes at least 10 buildings in a fantasy style of pop-architecture. The class should vote on whether they would like to live in the city as it now exists or in the fantasy city they created.
These Honored Dead: The Battle of Rivers Bridge and Civil War Combat Casualties (94)
• "Monuments:" A monument can tell about a community's memory of war and what it meant to recall the sacrifices of the dead. Have students design a monument to commemorate a war.
Tonto National Monument: Saving a National Treasure (125)
• "The First Inhabitants of Your Community:" Have students study their community to find out who its first inhabitants were and if there are still places associated with them. Have them design a plaque or monument to dedicate this part of their town's history, or have them write papers about how the town preserves and interprets its history.
Thomas P. Kennard House: Building a Prairie Capital (149)
• "City Planning: Design a state capital:" Have students study an early map of your state’s capital city. Have them use what they learn from it to design their own state capital and then give a persuasive speech about why their design would make a good capital city.
The Washington Monument: Tribute in Stone (62)
• "Designing a Monument:" In groups, have students decide on an American they believe should be honored with a memorial. Have them create a model of a memorial with a written description of the ideas behind the structure.
Waterford, Virginia: From Mill Town to National Historic Landmark (88)
"A Step Back in Time:" Ask students to imagine they lived in Waterford, Virginia, in the 19th century, and have them make a model of the mill.
Wright Brothers National Memorial: Site of the First Controlled Powered Flight (109)
• "Designing a Glider:" Have groups of students design and build a small glider they will conduct flying experiments on to determine which designs are successful. Each group should explain the aerodynamic principles used in their design, and as a class discuss the possible reasons for their glider's success or failure.

Lightning Lessons

Discover the Mary Ann Shadd Cary House (Lightning Lesson 1)
• "Nineteenth Century Urban Engineering and Home Comforts :" Have students study 19th century home life in this historical research and arts project. Students will research a home appliance that was available in late 19th century cities. Students will take their findings and interpret it in an art project (visual, digital, performance, etc). Exhibit the projects as appropriate.
 

Diaries/Journals/Autobiographies


The Battle of Glorieta Pass: A Shattered Dream (91)
• "Consider Life as a Soldier:" Pretending to be a Civil War soldier, have students write a diary entry of an episode or experience they think worthy of recording.
The Battle of Oriskany: "Blood Shed a Stream Running Down" (79)
• "The Lost Battlefield:" Have students recreate the Battle of Oriskany by producing a map of one or more different phases of the battle, sketching/painting a picture of the.
Californio to American: A Study in Cultural Change (8)
• "Imagining Life at Rancho Los Alamitos:" Have students write journal or diary entries or short papers in which they imagine they are living in the Rancho Los Alamitos’ house during each of the first four stages of its construction.
Choices and Commitments: The Soldiers at Gettysburg (44)
• "Putting Yourself in the Shoes of a Civil War Soldier:" Have students imagine themselves as men living during the Civil War, and ask them to write two or three diary entries explaining who they are, what position they took toward the war, their justification for taking that position, and a description of their activities during the war. As a class, discuss the different choices made by the students. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
“The Electric Project”: The Minidoka Dam and Powerplant (160)
• “Centuries of Change: How Everyday Life Has Changed Due to Electricity:” Have students keep diaries of how they accomplish everyday tasks with technology. Have them use the diary to compare and contrast their lives to a primary source document about housework in the 19th century and to information about life on the Minidoka Project.
First Lady of the World: Eleanor Roosevelt at Val-Kill (26)
• "My Day:" Have students keep a journal for two weeks reflecting on their place in the community and the time they spend on community service. At the end, have students share their thoughts with the class, comparing their own activities and thoughts with what they learned about Eleanor Roosevelt.
The Freeman School: Building Prairie Communities (80)
• "And Today in the School:" Have students assume the role of a teacher at the Freeman School and recreate one month of journal entries. After students have completed the journals, divide the class into groups and ask them to share their journal entries with each other about what happened at their school for the month.
Herbert Hoover: Iowa Farm Boy and World Humanitarian (34)
• "Recreating a Personal Childhood:" Have students reflect on their first 11 years, and then have them pretend they are 77 years old and writing their own memoirs. Ask them to write three or four descriptive paragraphs.
"The Honor of Your Company is Requested": Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Ball at the Patent Office (143)
“Telling the Story:” Have students review primary sources and texts in the unit and do research in local or state historical newspapers so that they can write a newspaper story, letter, or diary entry about the inaugural ball from the perspective of someone who would have attended.
"Journey from Slavery to Statesman": The Homes of Frederick Douglass (147)
"Activity 1: The Life and Times of Me:" Have students interview a writer to learn how hard it is to write a book and then have them write a few pages of their own autobiography. There are several questions to prompt students.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition: Documenting the Uncharted Northwest (108)
• "The Power of the Pen:" In groups, have students spend an hour observing and recording their environment in a journal (include drawings and writings). Each group should talk in depth about their observations so that the class might guess what was observed.
New Philadelphia: A Multiracial Town on the Illinois Frontier (130)
• "Role Play:" Have students assume the role of a formerly enslaved individual living in Illinois before the Civil War with children and grandchildren still enslaved in Kentucky. Having accumulated enough money to purchase one family member out of slavery, have each student write a diary entry explaining who they would purchase first, how would they plan their trip, what dangers could they expect to encounter on the trip to Kentucky and back to Illinois, and what precautions would they take to avoid slave catchers.
The Old Mormon Fort: Birthplace of Las Vegas, Nevada (122)
• "Lives of the Pioneers:" Have students use what they have learned to write a diary entry as if they lived at the Old Mormon Fort or the later ranch. Have them present the diary entries to the rest of the class and discuss the evolution of the fort.
President Lincoln's Cottage: A Retreat
• "Journal Entry:" Have students keep a record of their personal experiences and observations coming to and from school for the duration of two weeks.
The Shields-Ethridge Farm: The End of a Way of Life (145)
• "The Slow Revolution:" Ask students to imagine they are Ira Ethridge and from that point of view they must write a diary entry using two "diary" topics: "My Victories" and "My Regrets." After students complete the assignment, ask for volunteers to read their "diaries" to the class and then hold a class discussion about their lists.
The Spanish Treasure Fleets of 1715 and 1733: Disasters Strike at Sea (129)
• "Life Aboard a Treasure Fleet:" Based on the information learned in the lesson, ask students to prepare two journal entries as if they were onboard either the Urca de Lima or the San Pedro.
The War Relocation Centers of World War II: When Fear Was Stronger than Justice (89)
• "Being There:" Have students imagine they are Japanese American young people living in California in 1941. Have them create diary entries that describe how they felt when they heard about the Pearl Harbor attack, when they read about the need to remove people like them from their homes, when they saw the posted evacuation order, and when they first saw the relocation center.

(back to top)

Drama/Role Playing


Andersonville: Prisoner of War Camp (11)
• "Money in Prison, The Raiders’ Trial:" Have students assume the role of prisoners who are allotted a set amount of money, each students is to determine what they are to buy for food since rations are not issued, and/or have students "reenact" the Raiders' trial (excluding carrying out the sentence!). Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
The Battle of Bentonville: Caring for Casualties of the Civil War (69)
• "Once a Soldier, On the Homefront:" Have students write a letter to their loved ones describing their experience in the Battle of Bentonville, including the amputation of their leg above the knee, the treatment they received at the field hospital, and how they believe the wound and its treatment will change their lives. Then have students work in groups to create short plays about the impact of war on the people who live near battlefields.
The Battle of Honey Springs: The Civil War Comes to the Indian Territory (68)
• "What shall we do?:" In groups, have students imagine they are Native Americans attending a tribal council where they will decide if they will support the Union or Confederacy. Each student should make an individual vote. Have students write a short paper describing if this was a difficult exercise and why.
• "Working Together Across Ethnic Lines:" Have students consider their communities and whether there are examples in which distinct groups previously at odds banded together to meet a common goal. After this discussion, assign a skit or a written or oral report where students further study and learn about their example.
The Battle of Mill Springs: The Civil War Divides a Border State (72)
• "Choosing Sides:" Have students create a Civil War-era character for themselves, and then have each write a short speech in which they explain who they are, which side they will support, and why.
The Battle of Oriskany: "Blood Shed a Stream Running
• "Where Do I Stand?:" Have each student select a historical person who participated in the Battle of Oriskany and create a written or oral report in the character of that person about the experience.
Building America's Industrial Revolution: The Boott Cotton Mills of Lowell, MA (21)
• "Role Play:" Have students—assuming the roles of local farmers and villagers—make short speeches as they act out a town meeting. Follow with a discussion of what would happen to their current ways of life if their neighborhoods suddenly underwent rapid and dramatic changes.
Brown v. Board: Five Communities That Changed America (121)
• "The United States Supreme Court:" Divide students into groups and ask each group to choose a landmark Supreme Court case to investigate. After completing their research, ask each group to role play the basic arguments for both sides in front of the rest of the class.
The Carlisle Indian Industrial School: Assimilation with Education after the Indian Wars (163)
"Historic American Indian Boarding Schools Beyond Carlisle:" Assign to small groups or each student one historic, off-reservation school for a research project and report. The report you assign can take the form of an essay, research paper, skit, oral presentation, or poster presentation depending on time, resources, and ability…If students choose to write a skit about their school (a "day in the life" of a student, for example) make sure they reveal all of the required facts about the school in dialogue or narration.
Carnegie Libraries: The Future Made Bright (50)
• "Famous Philanthropists:" Invite a locally elected official to talk to the class on his or her experience in politics, with students asking questions. Hold a class discussion where students compare the local official and Abraham Lincoln.
Chicago's Columbus Park: The Prairie Idealized (81)
• "Folk Housing:" Have some students assume the identity of one of the great American philanthropists of the Carnegie period and other students assume the role of journalists. Have a public forum or press conference in which each of the famous figures tries to show why he, not Carnegie, was America’s greatest philanthropist.
Fort Pickens and the Outbreak of the Civil War (38)
• "Surrender or Not:" Have students act out the confrontation that occurred at Fort Pickens on January 15, 1861. After the role play is completed, have the class discuss the relative merit of the positions presented by the opposing parties.
Frederica: An 18th-Century Planned Community (31)
• "Living in Frederica, Moving Day:" Have students pretend they are settlers in Frederica who are writing a letter describing the fort and town of Frederica to someone in Great Britain. In small groups, have students represent Frederica families and have them discuss what they are going to do now that the fort has closed.
The Freeman School: Building Prairie Communities (80)
• "To Preserve or Not to Preserve:" In groups, have students role-play a citizens' group who has just bought the land on which the abandoned, but historic, Freeman School is located. Have each group decide what to do with this building, and have the class vote on whether they should tear down the building or keep it.
Glen Echo Park: Center for Education and Recreation (24)
• "An Old Fashioned Independence Day Celebration:" Ask students to reenact the Fourth of July celebration held at the Glen Echo Chautauqua in 1892, by assuming the roles of the people who took part, and, if possible, staging the program for another class. Have the class research to see if this kind of program was ever held in their community.
Gold Fever! Seattle Outfits the Klondike Gold Rush (55)
• "Should I Stay, or Should I Go?:" In groups, have students assume the role of one of four people. Have each student decide how his or her character would answer the question, "Should I go, or not go to the Klondike gold fields?" Poll students as to whether they would have chosen to go to the Klondike if they had been alive at the time.
"Journey from Slavery to Statesman": The Homes of Frederick Douglass (147)
"Activity 2: The Great Orator:" Have students learn part of a Frederick Douglass speech and recite it in class. Have students discuss what they found to be the most challenging parts about speaking like Douglass.
Lafayette Park: First Amendment Rights on the President’s Doorstep (139)
"First Amendment Rights:" Ask groups of students to hold mock trials based on important Supreme Court decisions on First Amendment rights. Ask the students to defend the arguments presented by both sides. At the end of the mock trial, have the class decide whether they agreed or disagreed with the Supreme Court's decision in the case.
Liberty Ships and Victory Ships, America's Lifeline in War (116)
• "Carrying the Supplies:" Ask students to locate farms or factories in their community that supplied the war effort, and have them research how they supported the war. Students should share the information they have discovered in the form of papers, project boards, computer slide shows, skits, or oral presentations.
Life on an Island: Early Settlers Off the Rock-Bound Coast of Maine (16)
• "Living on an Island:" In two groups, have students list the advantages of their way of life on two separate islands, at the end have a spokesperson speak to a “visiting journalist” about their way of life. Have each group research everyday life in the early 1800s for people living in their own community.
Martin Van Buren's "Return to the Soil" (39)
• "Democrats and Whigs:" In two groups, Democrats and Whigs, have the students research the activities of their assigned party. Each group should select a person to act as a presidential candidate and debate his or her opponent, and afterwards they should decide how they might have voted.
The No. 2 Quincy Shaft-Rockhouse: 9,240 Feet into the Earth (152)
• “Worker Safety at the No. 2 Quincy Shaft-Rockhouse:”Have your students pair off and each pair write a dialogue between a miner and a mine manager about mine safety at the historic Quincy Mine. Have students use primary source documents from the mine to write it and then have them perform their dialogues for the class.
The Old Court House in St. Louis: Yesterday & Today (9)
"Examining Trials:" Have students look up the meaning and discuss a list of court-related words. Have the class visit an actual trial if possible, and ask them to choose a particular person involved in the case with whom to identify for a classroom discussion.
Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site: Home of a Gilded Age Icon (48)
• "Artist and Client:" Have students pair up (one student an artist and the other a client) and act out the process to reach a final artistic product. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Saratoga: The Tide Turns on the Frontier (93)
• "A Council of War:" In groups, have students assume the roles of a general and his officers preparing for a battle during the Revolutionary War. This “council of war” will have to come to a decision about how they should proceed. Students should discuss the advantages of having a council of war and whether this 18th-century decision-making model still works today.
Springwood: Birthplace and Home to Franklin D. Roosevelt (82)
• "Lifestyles:" In groups, have students research an aspect of life in the late 19th century—comparing it with contemporary life. Students may present their findings through drawings or photographs, written reports, skits involving objects or costumes, charts, computer slide-shows, or other means.
Thurmond: A Town Born from Coal Mines and Railroads (28)
• "Role Play:" In groups of five or six, have students pretend they are railroad workers who will act out three scenarios. The class should discuss the complexity of running a train yard that was busy 24 hours a day.
The Trail of Tears and the Forced Relocation of the Cherokee Nation (118)
"Ridge vs. Ross:" In two groups, have students debate and defend the position of Cherokees who were in favor of a treaty with the U.S. or those against it. After the class hears the arguments, have them vote on whether they should approve the treaty as if they were member of the Cherokee National Council. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Ulysses S. Grant and Julia Dent Grant at White Haven Farm: The Missouri Compromise in American Life (154)
• "Consider the Evidence, Evaluate the Perspectives:" Have small students groups analyze the written and visual materials in this lesson that are evidence of slavery. Then, have the groups use the evidence and their analysis to write a play about the lives and work of enslaved people at White Haven.
When Rice Was King (3)
• "Interviewing Plantation Residents:" In groups of three, have one student pretend to be a newspaper reporter from a northern city interviewing people living on a plantation, and the other two students act as children living on the plantation. As a class discuss if the students came up with similar kinds of details.
Lightning Lessons
Discover the Mary Ann Shadd Cary House (Lightning Lesson 1)
• "Nineteenth Century Urban Engineering and Home Comforts :" Have students study 19th century home life in this historical research and arts project. Students will research a home appliance that was available in late 19th century cities. Students will take their findings and interpret it in an art project (visual, digital, performance, etc). Exhibit the projects as appropriate.

(back to top)

Exhibits/Displays

Alaska's Site Summit: Cold War Defense and its Legacy in the North (153)
• "Nike Site Living - Mini Exhibits:" Have small groups of students research aspects of military life at Nike missile facilities and gather information, photographs, illustrations, charts, and quotes about their topic to display on a poster board or similar medium. Each group will present their poster to the class.
Adeline Hornbek and the Homestead Act: A Colorado Success Story (67)
• "Researching Important Women:" Have students design and create an exhibit about an outstanding woman who lived (or lives) in the area for the school and community.
An American Success Story: The Pope House of Raleigh, NC (124)
• "Mock Election:" Have students make campaign posters for Dr. Manassa Pope’s 1919 election and create a display for them.
Arthurdale: A New Deal Community Experiment (157)
• "A New Deal for the United States :" Have students identify and research a New Deal public works project in their community, or research another way the New Deal affected people living there in the 1930s. Students will design a poster to describe the project and present in a class exhibit. With time remaining, facilitate a class discussion about the role of government in an economic crisis..
At a Crossroads: The King of Prussia Inn (119)
• "Interpreting Artifacts:" Have students bring an item to class their peers would not immediately recognize, and in groups have each student display their “artifact,” while the others examine the object and use their knowledge of history to figure out what the object is, what it was used for, and how old it might be.
Back Stairs at Brucemore: Life as Servants in early 20th-Century America (105)
• "Preserving the Past:" Have students use historical and current photographs of a local building to create a display. Students should present their display in class and give an explanation of what the building tells them about their community's past.
The Battle of Prairie Grove: Civilian Recollections of the Civil War (70)
• "The Civil War in Your Area:"In groups, have students look at nine historical events associated with the Civil War and what happened in their community in relation to each event. Afterwards, have the class design an exhibit around their community's Civil War legacy.
Boston's Arnold Arboretum: A Place for Study and Recreation (56)
• "Being a Plant Explorer:" Have students pick a tree to determine what uses it might have and whether it is a native plant or a foreign variety. When students have completed their research, help them make a classroom display that illustrates the different trees and shrubs found in their area.
Brown v. Board: Five Communities That Changed America (121)
• "School Segregation in the Local Community:" Divide students into two groups, having one group research public schools in their town in the period leading up to the Brown ruling, and the other research schools in the years following the Brown ruling. Have each group explain its findings and create an exhibit to display.
The Carlisle Indian Industrial School: Assimilation with Education after the Indian Wars (163)
• "Explore Disease at Carlisle with Science and Empathy:" Assign poster presentations to each student about one of the three main illnesses that spread among Carlisle students. Posters should provide a basic description of the disease including symptoms and how it is spread. It should also display images of the disease affecting a cell, or diagrams of body systems or organs affected. Lastly, have students incorporate artwork onto the poster that memorializes Carlisle students buried at the cemetery. Suggest that they look up images of the cemetery or news articles about recent visits to the cemetery by members of the public to aid in the visualization of the site.
"Making Global Connections at Carlisle:" If time and resources allow, have your students produce a poster board exhibit where each group displays their table and has an opportunity to present what they found in their research.
Carnegie Libraries: The Future Made Bright (50 )
• "Libraries in the Local Community:" Have students research the history of their local library and write a report, create a timeline, or design an exhibit.
"Comfortable Camps?" Archeology of the Confederate Guard Camp at the Florence Stockade (142)
• "Women in the Civil War:" Have students research and compare the experience of women in the Civil War to women in the military today. Ask the local VFW or American Legion Past to help identify veterans in the community who would let students interview them.
Digging into the Colonial Past: Archeology and the 16th-Century Spanish Settlements at Charlesfort-Santa Elena (155)
•"Local History, Local Treasures:" Divide your class into groups and assign each group a time period or era that is part of your community's heritage. Have them present their narrative on a poster board and have them highlight the artifacts they believe help people today understand the era.
The Emerald Necklace: Boston's Green Connection (86)
• "Parks Brochure:" Have students work in groups to create a park brochure of a local park or park system. The final product should be displayed and/or sent to the local parks commission.
Fiftieth Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act
• "Activity 1:" Divide students into groups and ask each group to select a place from their community that is listed in the National Register of Historic Places or one that they think should be listed. After they have completed their research, hold a class discussion about the benefits of preservation to the community. Have them share their findings with the PTA or a local historical organization in a PowerPoint presentation, a community walking tour, exhibits, or a website.
Gran Quivira: A Blending of Cultures in a Pueblo Indian Village (66)
• "Constructing a Model of a Pueblo:" Have groups of three or four students build a model of one of the components of the village of Gran Quivira, then put the completed models on dried grass and dirt covered poster boards and assemble the village, afterwards show the completed pueblo to other classes.
The Invention Factory: Thomas Edison's Laboratories (25)
• "The Invention Process:" Have students research their community to see how changes in technology and industry have altered the landscape. Have students produce a classroom or hallway display that shows these changes.
"Journey from Slavery to Statesman": The Homes of Frederick Douglass (147)
"Activity 3: Traveling the Underground Railroad:" Have students divide a slave narrative into readable lengths so they can trace and map out the slave’s journey to freedom. Have students compare the narratives and create an exhibit based on the information they gather from the narrative.
Ladd Field and the Lend-Lease Mission: Defending Alaska in WWII (146)
• "Wartime Cooperation:" Divide students into four or five groups and have them research cooperation between the United States and its foreign allies in listed wars. Have students fill in a matrix and use that information to create a museum exhibit.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition: Documenting the Uncharted Northwest (108)
• "Creating Maps:" Have students walk around their neighborhood or school and document their visual interpretations in the form of a map, and have them compare their maps to an actual map of the school grounds or their neighborhood. Display the maps in the classroom.
Life on an Island: Early Settlers Off the Rock-Bound Coast of Maine (16)
• "Local History:" Have students create their own historical museum with prepared documents of written short accounts of their own family history, family papers, and artifacts.
Memories of Montpelier: Home of James and Dolley Madison (46)
• "Researching the Madisons:" Have students work in pairs to research the personality and character of James and Dolley Madison in order to design and create an exhibit. Have students discuss how their research contributed to their understanding of the Madisons and their time period.
• "A Historic Place in Your Neighborhood:" Have students find primary source evidence that describes the place, the people, and the daily lives of those that occupied a significant site in their community, and compare it with Montpelier. Have them work with their local historical society to develop a special exhibit for the community.
A Nation Repays Its Debt: The National Soldiers' Home and Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio (115)
• "Explore Your Community for Memorials:" Have students locate and visit a war memorial in their community and have them create an exhibit for the school about the memorial.
The Octagon of Washington, D.C.: The House that Helped Build a Capital (151)
"The Buildings that Built Your Town:" Have the class discuss the merits of saving old buildings and ask them to identify important buildings in their community. Have the students research local buildings, create posters or display boards to showcase their features and history, and then work together to nominate one to the National Register.
The Penniman House: A Whaling Story (112)
• "The Penniman House Revisited:" Have students look at their own homes and buildings in the community for similar architectural details to those on the Penniman House. If possible, ask them to take pictures and create a display for the classroom.
• "Community History:" Have students research their community’s history to determine what industry influenced its development, and in teams find out whether any homes of noteworthy persons associated with the industry survived. They should make a local history display and present it to the community.
The Rosenwald Schools: Progressive Era Philanthropy in the Segregated South (159)
• “Rosenwald Schools, Yesterday and Today:“ Have each student create a poster exhibit about a historic Rosenwald School. Each exhibit should include one or more map, photographs of the schools, historical information about the region and the schools, and other information of interest.
• “Research Progressive Era Leaders:” Have each student design a poster exhibit about a historic Progressive figure, which will include biographical information, a picture of the person, and an explanation of that person's key contributions to the Progressive movement.
Separate But Equal? South Carolina's Fight Over School Segregation (158)
• "Desegregating the U.S.: The Lawsuits of Brown v. Board of Education:" Students will learn about the lawsuits combined in Brown v. Board of Education and work in groups to create a poster series exhibit about the lawsuits that led to the 1954 decision. Afterward, lead your students in a class discussion with guests who experienced segregation first-hand.
The Shields-Ethridge Farm: The End of a Way of Life (145)
• "Our Agrarian Past:" Have students work in small groups as they study maps of farmland in their community before it was developed. Then, have them look at post-development maps and study how the land changed. Ask each group to create an exhibit to display their findings in a public space.
The Siege and Battle of Corinth: A New Kind of War (113)
"Transportation in the Local Community:" Have students, in groups, research the transportation routes in their community, both past and present. As a class, create a local transportation history display to donate to the local library or historical society, or to display in their school.
Skagway: Gateway to the Klondike (75)
• "History and the Use of Local Buildings:" Have students compile a list of buildings that illustrate the development of their community, and in small groups have them research a building in order to create an exhibit illustrating its history. The class should develop a promotional brochure or walking tour of their town about those buildings. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Thomas Jefferson's Plan for the University of Virginia: Lessons from the Lawn (92)
• "Local Schools:" In small groups, have students research the history of their school. Ask students to share their findings in a written report, oral presentation, computer slide-show, model, or exhibit.
• "Education through the Generations:" Have students interview their parents about the school(s) they attended when they were the students' age, compare the information gathered with the information about their own school, and present their findings with an exhibit, computer slide show, oral presentation, or written report.
Thomas P. Kennard House: Building a Prairie Capital (149)
• "Places where your state made history:" Have students investigate local historic buildings and produce a poster series about them that could be displayed at a local cultural institution, like a library or historical society.
Tonto National Monument: Saving a National Treasure (125)
• "Cliff Dwelling Research:" Have students in groups research a cliff dwelling site. Compare it with the history and building structures of Tonto National Monument, presenting their findings and explaining what archeology revealed about the inhabitants of their cliff dwelling. Create an exhibit about their cliff dwelling.
The Trail of Tears and the Forced Relocation of the Cherokee Nation (118)
• "American Indian Relocation:" Have four groups of students research one of the following tribes: Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole. Each group should compare their tribe with that of the Cherokee and present a report to the class, and/or create an exhibit for their school and community. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
The United States Air Force Academy: Founding a Proud Tradition (114)
"Comparing Military Academies:" Have students research either the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, or the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. Compare their chosen academy with the Air Force Academy, and design an exhibit to present their findings.
A Woman's Place Is In the Sewall-Belmont House: Alice Paul and Women's Rights (148)
• "The 20th Century Woman:" Have each student record an oral history interview with a female family friend or relative. Afterward, students can create a class oral history book about the experiences they preserved; develop a poster exhibit and submit their recordings to a local historical society, museum, or library for a service learning project; and analyze the oral histories as primary sources.
Wright Brothers National Memorial: Site of the First Controlled Powered Flight (109)
• "Honoring Achievements in the Local Community:" Working in groups, have students research a local effort to commemorate an important person or event in their community. Ask students to design an exhibit to present their findings for others to see.
• "Investigating Local and Regional History through Archeology:" Through internet research and contacting local history experts, students will investigate a historic place in their own region where people marked the space with religious or other cultural symbols. They will each design a poster display to explain the who, where, what, and why of the historic site and the meaning of the symbols found there.
Discover the Mary Ann Shadd Cary House (Lightning Lesson 1)
• "Nineteenth Century Urban Engineering and Home Comforts :" Have students study 19th century home life in this historical research and arts project. Students will research a home appliance that was available in late 19th century cities. Students will take their findings and interpret it in an art project (visual, digital, performance, etc). Exhibit the projects as appropriate.
• "From the Newspaper to the Podium :" Have students identify an injustice and then write a persuasive essay to inspire members of the student body to unite against the injustice. Next, ask students to prepare a short speech based on their essays. Finally, display your students’ essays as if they were 19th century editorial broadsides.

(back to top)

Expository Writing

Adeline Hornbek and the Homestead Act: A Colorado Success Story (67)
"Homesteading in the Local Region:" Have students research and write a short paper about Manifest Destiny and the Homestead Act and how it relates to their community.
Allegheny Portage Railroad: Developing Transportation Technology (23)
"Transportation Technology: Past, Present, and Future:" Have students research their community’s transportation history and write a paper on that topic. Ask students to imagine and describe the kinds of transportation they think might be available a century from now and hold a class discussion on the students’ responses.
An American Success Story: The Pope House of Raleigh, NC (124)
"Constructing a Biography:" Have students write a paper on an African-American contemporary of Dr. Pope who was active in the years between the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement. Have students present their findings in class.
Andersonville: Prisoner of War Camp (11)
"Family History:" Have students research an ancestor or any individual who fought or lived during the Civil War, and then submit an essay describing what those persons did during the war and how the war affected their lives. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Arthurdale: A New Deal Community Experiment (157)
• "Discover the New Deal Homesteads:" Have students research New Deal homestead communities throughout the country. They will write a research paper about that homestead, describing what it was like in the 1930s and what remains of it today. Afterward, have each student present orally about how his or her community compares to Arthurdale.
At a Crossroads: The King of Prussia Inn (119)
• "Community Research:" Have students research a historic inn, hotel, or tavern in their community, or have them research a modern local hotel. Students should give a brief oral or written report on their findings.
Attu: North American Battleground of World War II (7)
"War and the Individual:" Encourage students to invite a veteran of a recent military engagement to speak to the class. After the presentation, have students compare the recent military engagement with the WWII battle, and have them write an essay on the role of ordinary soldiers during the crisis of war.
The Battle of Honey Springs: The Civil War Comes to the Indian Territory (68)
"What shall we do?:" In groups, have students imagine they are Native Americans attending a tribal council where they will decide if they will support the Union or Confederacy. Each student should make an individual vote. Have students write a short paper describing if this was a difficult exercise and why.
"The Great Equalizer:" Ask students to investigate and write about how soldiers' conduct in other battles has affected racial attitudes.
"Working Together Across Ethnic Lines:" Have students consider their communities and whether there are examples in which distinct groups previously at odds banded together to meet a common goal. After this discussion, assign a skit or a written or oral report where students further study and learn about their example.
The Battle of Horseshoe Bend: Collision of Cultures (54)
"Cultural Conflict:" In groups, have students discuss and list possible strategies the Creek could have used during the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. In different groups, have students discuss if battles like Horseshoe Bend are inevitable by researching a current world conflict and writing a short position paper.
The Battle of Oriskany: "Blood Shed a Stream Running Down" (79)
"Where Do I Stand?:" Have each student select a historical person who participated in the Battle of Oriskany and create a written or oral report in the character of that person about the experience.
"In the Grip of Fear:" Have students produce a written, pictorial, or video report describing a controversial issue that has divided their community, and have them compare that issue with the Mohawk Valley civil war, U.S. Civil War, or civil wars on the international scene.
The Battle of Prairie Grove: Civilian Recollections of the Civil War (70)
"Reliability of Historic Sources:" Have students choose an important or controversial event that involved local residents, have them research the event, record an interview with a relative or neighbor who was involved in some way with this event, and write a report that describes the oral history and evaluates its accuracy.
"Modern Civil Wars:" Have students identify a current civil war, and have them find several stories in papers, magazines, or on television that show how this war has affected civilians. Have students compare this conflict with the Civil War, and present this information in a written report or orally to the class.
Boston's Arnold Arboretum: A Place for Study and Recreation (56)
"Researching a Local Park:" Have students choose a local park or other green space to study, and encourage students to prepare a short oral report for class or present their information in a research paper.
Brown v. Board: Five Communities That Changed America (121)
• "Massive Resistance:" Have students prepare a written report detailing how “massive resistance” impacted integration in Virginia.
"The NAACP:" Have students research the NAACP, and have them summarize their findings in a written report or a timeline illustrating the NAACP's history.
The Carlisle Indian Industrial School: Assimilation with Education after the Indian Wars (163)
"Historic American Indian Boarding Schools Beyond Carlisle:" Assign to small groups or each student one historic, off-reservation school for a research project and report. The report you assign can take the form of an essay, research paper, skit, oral presentation, or poster presentation depending on time, resources, and ability.
"Preserving the American Indian Past, Present, and Future:" Have students present what they learn in an essay, oral presentation, or short video that they can play for the whole class. They should also submit an annotated bibliography that lists their internet sources and explains why each is a trustworthy source of information.
Carnegie Libraries: The Future Made Bright (50)
"Spending a Fortune:" Give each student $100 million. They are to write an essay describing how much money they are keeping for themselves, giving to their families, and giving to charity. Once they have decided, have the students discuss in class why they chose as they did.
"Libraries in the Local Community:" Have students research the history of their local library and write a report, create a timeline, or design an exhibit.
Castolon: A Meeting Place of Two Cultures (17)
"Growing up in Castolon:" Ask students to write a 300 word essay describing the life they would have experienced if they were their current age and lived in the Castolon area during frontier times.
Chicago's Black Metropolis: Understanding History through a Historic Place (53)
"Nominating a Local Historic Place:" Ask each student to select a site, building, monument, or structure in their community that could be nominated for a local, state, or national register of historic places, research it, and create a narrative about that site, building, monument, or structure.
Clara Barton's House: Home of the American Red Cross (27)
"Researching the Life of Clara Barton:" Have students research the life of Clara Barton, and have them present the results in oral or written reports or in panel discussions.
Decatur House: A Home of the Rich and Powerful (19)
"Access to Power:" Have students choose a current issue they wish to express an opinion about to their state governor, and have students show their support or disapproval by petition, letter, fax, E-mail, telephone, or the news media. Students should consider and discuss if a personal visit would be effective.
Digging into the Colonial Past: Archeology and the 16th-Century Spanish Settlements at Charlesfort-Santa Elena (155)
•"Creating a Historical Argument: " Individually or in small groups, have students use historical evidence to argue which settlement in North America should be considered the first. Students can present their work using persuasive essay, a debate, an oral presentation, or a poster board presentation.
“The Electric Project”: The Minidoka Dam and Powerplant (160)
• “Public vs. Private Power:” Have students write an essay that compares and contrasts the Minidoka Project to the Boulder Canyon Project. Essays should include a short discussion about the early 20th century debate over private vs. public utilities.
First Lady of the World: Eleanor Roosevelt at Val-Kill (26)
"Local Volunteer Organizations:" Ask students to make a list of the volunteer groups and programs in their community that are dedicated to helping others. Then, working in small groups, ask students to choose one organization or program and write and essay about it. The class should discuss the essays together.
Fort Hancock: A Bastion of America's Eastern Seaboard (37)
"Continued Evolution of Defenses:" Have students decide if the money spent on defense at Fort Hancock was worth it, and have each student write a short essay explaining why. Hold a class discussion on their answers, or hold a debate between two sides.
Fiftieth Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act
"Activity 1:" Divide students into two groups, one of which reads the first section of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and the other conducts online research on the National Register of Historic Places. Ask students in the first group rewrite each paragraph in the NHPA excerpt to explain the importance of historic preservation and those in the second group write a short explanation about what types of places are listed in the National Register, how places qualify, and the process for listing. Then have each group report to the other half of the class.
"Activity 2:" After a brainstorming exercise to identify older places in the community that may be historically important, divide the class into small groups and assign a place to each group. Ask the groups to visit their place, together or individually, and complete an Observation Worksheet. Also ask the students to conduct research in the local library or historical society to see if they can find information about their place. On the basis of their observations and research, ask students to write a description and statement of historical significance for their property.
The Frankish Building: A Reflection of the Success of Ontario, California (43)
"Looking at a Building:" Students should research and write up a report about the founders of their community and whether any of the buildings there were built or related to a town founder.
The Freeman School: Building Prairie Communities (80)
"How Did My Town Grow:" Ask students to find out which school in their city is the oldest and research it to recreate its history. Ask students to share their findings through oral, written, display, or computer slide-show presentations.
Glorieta and Raton Passes: Gateways to the Southwest (117)
"Close to Home:" In groups, have students prepare a written or oral report on their community's role in the westward movement. Groups should find out if there are places in their community that relate to this period, such as roadways, farms, buildings, or memorials.
"The Great Chief Justice" at Home (49)
"Assessing Public and Private Qualities Associated with Greatness:" In groups, have students identify and discuss the qualities of John Marshall that constituted his greatness, identify two or three living persons whom they regard as great, and compare their personal characteristics with Marshall’s. Each student should pick one of their candidates for greatness and write an essay on that person.
"Historic Sites in the Local Community:" Have students research a historic site in their community associated with an important figure and prepare a written report. Have them read their reports aloud and participate in a classroom discussion on whether they feel it is important to preserve historic sites that are associated with important persons of the past.
Guilford Courthouse: A Pivotal Battle in the War for Independence (32)
"War and Public Opinion:" Have students use newspapers and magazines, as well as general history books, to find information about the impact of public opinion on wars throughout history. Then ask them to write an essay explaining their point of view on this issue.
Harry Truman and Independence, Missouri: "This is Where I Belong" (103)
"The Place We Call Home:" Have students write an essay about what makes their neighborhood important including the things that are good about their neighborhood and the things that are bad.
Herbert Hoover: Iowa Farm Boy and World Humanitarian (34)
"Hoover and U.S. History:" Have students check different U.S. history texts to see how the authors treat Hoover, and have them write a short, balanced biography of Hoover using materials provided in this lesson, in U.S. history books, and in books available in most school and public libraries. When the essays are done, have students discuss and edit them in small groups.
"The Honor of Your Company is Requested": Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Ball at the Patent Office (143)
“Telling the Story:” Have students review primary sources and texts in the unit and do research in local or state historical newspapers so that they can write a newspaper story, letter, or diary entry about the inaugural ball from the perspective of someone who would have attended.
Hopewell Furnace: A Pennsylvania Iron-making Plantation (97)
"Economic History in the Local Community:" Have students research the economic history of their local community and state to find out how it resembled colonial Pennsylvania and Hopewell.
The Invention Factory: Thomas Edison's Laboratories (25)
"Researching the Impact of Edison’s Inventions:" Have students research the development and history of any one of Edison's inventions and write a report that traces it to the present day.
Iolani Palace: A Hawaiian Place of History, Power, and Prestige (161)
• "Discover Civic Activism at Iolani Palace and in Your Community:" Have students research and read about recent activist events at the Iolani Palace. Next, moderate a class discussion about the ways the Palace has been used over the years. Finish by having students use the National Register of Historic Places database to write essays about other historic places used in civic activism.
Iron Hill School: An African-American One-Room School (58)
"Researching Philanthropists:" Have students define "philanthropy" and "philanthropist." Have students choose a philanthropist active during the Progressive Era and write a short essay describing how that person fits their definition of a philanthropist. Students should think of a contemporary philanthropist and compare their contribution to that of the person they researched.
"Collecting Oral Histories:" Have students write a newspaper article about an alumnus of their school that illustrates the differences between a school day then and now. Ask them to list the things they think they might remember and what objects they might save in case someone asks them about their school days.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition: Documenting the Uncharted Northwest (108)
"The American Indians:" In teams, have students research the perspective of the American Indian tribes the Lewis and Clark expedition encountered during their journey. Students should chose one tribe and write a brief paper on their history since their encounter with the Lewis and Clark expedition.
The Liberty Bell: From Obscurity to Icon (36)
"Why is the Crack in the Liberty Bell So Important?:" In groups, have students look up three references to the Liberty Bell in textbooks, encyclopedias, dictionaries, or specialized works on American culture, and have them write a paper and/or discuss their findings.
Liberty Ships and Victory Ships, America's Lifeline in War (116)
"Carrying the Supplies:" Ask students to locate farms or factories in their community that supplied the war effort, and have them research how they supported the war. Students should share the information they have discovered in the form of papers, project boards, computer slide shows, skits, or oral presentations.
Life on an Island: Early Settlers Off the Rock-Bound Coast of Maine (16)
"Local History:" Have students create their own historical museum with prepared documents of written short accounts of their own family history, family papers, and artifacts. Students should also write about their current lives or a current issue as if they were writing in 2050.
Lincoln Home National Historic Site: A Place of Growth and Memory (127)
"Modern Reporting:" Have students read present-day news articles that deal with politicians and political events, have the class discuss the similarities in how reporters wrote during Lincoln's time compared to today, and have them write their own report of a current political event that either happened in their community or they witnessed on TV.
Locke and Walnut Grove: Havens for Early Asian Immigrants in California
"Life as an Immigrant:" Have students, working individually or in groups, imagine they are immigrants to a strange, new land. Hold a general discussion after students have had 15 or 20 minutes to work, or have individuals or groups write a short essay describing their imagined experiences.
Martin Van Buren's "Return to the Soil" (39)
"Comparing Presidents:" Have students research and write a paper comparing the financial panic and depression of 1837, the Great Depression that began in 1929, and the positions of Martin Van Buren and Herbert Hoover on the role of the government in ending the depression.
The M'Clintock House: A Home to the Women's Rights Movement (76)
"Social Reform:" Have students list the social problems Americans faced in the 19th century, and have them research how reformers tried to improve conditions for one of those problems. They should write a report.
"Women's Rights in Your Area:" Have students use old newspapers, information from the local historical society, and other sources to research an important event in their community that reflected the battle over women's rights. Have students present their findings in a paper, an oral report, or another format that effectively tells their audience what happened and why.
Mechanics Hall: Symbol of Pride and Industry (87)
"Meeting Places:" Have students research and prepare a short report on public meeting spaces in their community describing the types, uses, and advantages.
"Local Research:" Ask students to investigate the area they live in and compile a list of historic structures or sites, and in teams, have students select one site and research it. The report may take the form of a written essay, an oral presentation or skit, a poster, or computer display.
A Nation Repays Its Debt: The National Soldiers' Home and Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio (115)
"African Americans in the Civil War:" In three groups, have students complete one of the following activities: research Joshua Dunbar's story, write a biography, and present it to the class. Study an excerpt from The Colored Soldiers and then lead a class discussion, or research the contributions of African-American soldiers to the Civil War and report to the class.
New Kent School and the George W. Watkins School: From Freedom of Choice to Integration (104)
"History of My School:" After constructing a history of their school or a school in their community from 1954-1970, have students write a paper comparing the situation in their community and school with the situation in New Kent County, Virginia.
Not to Be Forgotten: Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery (123)
"Research a Prisoner-of-War Camp:" In groups, have students research and write a report on a Civil War POW camp. Have students research the development of the National Cemetery System, and write a paper on their findings, including when Confederate burials became part of this story and the role the National Cemetery Administration plays today in honoring veteran soldiers.
The Old Mormon Fort: Birthplace of Las Vegas, Nevada (122)
"Your Town's Birth:" Divide students into teams and have them research their community for evidence of how their town started and if any sites from that time still exist. If any still exist have students take a picture or draw a picture of those sites that will accompany a written history of their community.
President Lincoln's Cottage: A Retreat (138)
"Retreats in Your Local Community:" Have students conduct research, interview community residents regarding, and write a report about one or more local places used as a retreat.
"Emancipation Proclamation and Reparations:"Have students research the reparations debate of 1865 and, using what they learn through their research, draft an amendment to the Emancipation Proclamation.
"Current Issues:" Have students research both sides of a contentious issue and list the main points of contention, the major arguments, and the resolutions offered by each side. Then have them formulate and write out their own solution to the issue, as if they held elected office.
Remembering Pearl Harbor: The USS Arizona Memorial (18)
"Pearl Harbor and the Casualties of War:" Ask students to imagine they are reporters at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and have them write a short paper describing how they would have covered the news for their local daily papers and read it aloud to the rest of the class.
Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site: Home of a Gilded Age Icon (48)
"Meet the Cornish Colony:" Have students research and write a sort biography about a person who came to live at the Cornish Colony. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Saratoga: The Tide Turns on the Frontier (93)
"The War Continues:" Ask students to research and write a report on the American alliance with France during the American Revolution.
Saugus Iron Works: Life and Work at an Early American Industrial Site (30)
"Researching Industries in the Local Community:" Have students research and visit sites in their community to discover what elements of its early growth were alike from the development of the Saugus Iron Works and the settlement of Hammersmith. Students should discuss the history of the economic base of the town and write a short paper describing an industry they would like to promote.
Separate But Equal? South Carolina's Fight Over School Segregation (158)
• "Massive Resistance in the South:" Have small groups each study the ways Americans in a southern state organized to resist federal laws, rulings, and mandates that were aimed at ending segregation and then have the groups present their findings to the class. A second option is to have each student write a traditional research paper about the topic.
The Shields-Ethridge Farm: The End of a Way of Life (145)
• "Sharecroppers: Farmers without Land:" Ask students to develop research questions to investigate the sharecropping system generally and also how it was practiced on the Shields-Ethridge Farm. Then, ask students to research sharecropping in the South and write a report placing sharecropping at Shields-Ethridge Farm within the larger context. Facilitate a class discussion about their findings.
Springwood: Birthplace and Home to Franklin D. Roosevelt (82)
"Lifestyles:" In groups, have students research an aspect of life in the late 19th century—comparing it with contemporary life. Students may present their findings through drawings or photographs, written reports, skits involving objects or costumes, charts, computer slide-shows, or other means.
These Honored Dead: The Battle of Rivers Bridge and Civil War Combat Casualties (94)
"Memories of War:" Write the account of the person’s memories of war and present the results to the local library or historical society.
Thomas Jefferson's Plan for the University of Virginia: Lessons from the Lawn (92)
"Local Schools:" In small groups, have students research the history of their school. Ask students to share their findings in a written report, oral presentation, computer slide-show, model, or exhibit.
"Education through the Generations:" Have students interview their parents about the school(s) they attended when they were the students' age, compare the information gathered with the information about their own school, and present their findings with an exhibit, computer slide show, oral presentation, or written report.
Tonto National Monument: Saving a National Treasure (125)
"The First Inhabitants of Your Community:" Have students study their community to find out who its first inhabitants were and if there are still places associated with them. Have them design a plaque or monument to dedicate this part of their town's history, or have them write papers about how the town preserves and interprets its history.
Ulysses S. Grant and Julia Dent Grant at White Haven Farm: The Missouri Compromise in American Life (154)
"Modern Compromise:" Have your students to each write a 1-2 page essay that explores the following question: How do you benefit from a controversial practice in our world today? Assign each student a controversial practice to research and write about.
The United States Air Force Academy: Founding a Proud Tradition (114)
"Military Air Power:" In groups, have students research what type of military airplanes were used during World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, or today, and prepare a report that includes photos and basic information about the aircraft.
Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site: Monument to the Gilded Age (78)
"Researching Personalities from the Gilded Age:" Have students research a wealthy individual or family, other than the Vanderbilts, from the Gilded Age and prepare a short report.
The Vieux Carré: A Creole Neighborhood in New Orleans (20)
"Cultural Interaction:" Ask students to consider what happens when two different cultural groups live side by side, and have them think about the history of their community. They should write short papers describing the quality of ethnic relationships, and then discuss essays in class.
The War Relocation Centers of World War II: When Fear Was Stronger than Justice (89)
"Lest We Forget:" Have the class study the treatment of groups that were considered “enemy aliens,” and compare the treatment of these groups with the Japanese American experience in World War II. Students should find out if their community has ever treated people unfairly out of fear, and write an essay about that situations or interview someone who experience such an event.
The Washington Monument: Tribute in Stone (62)
"Designing a Monument:" In groups, have students decide on an American they believe should be honored with a memorial. Have them create a model of a memorial with a written description of the ideas behind the structure.
Wheat Farms, Flour Mills, and Railroads: A Web of Interdependence (106)
"Change Over Time in the Local Community:" Have students find industries dependent on other industries in their community, and ask them if foreign trade creates a similar kind of interdependence. Have them look for current or former businesses whose success or failure resulted from the growth or decline of another industry, and have them write a paper comparing the development of their community with that of Minneapolis.
When Rice Was King (3)
"Researching Your Community's Economic Origins:" In groups, have students research the economic base of their community when it was established and what it is today, with them explaining how and why it has changed or stayed the same. Each groups should present their research in short written or oral reports or create displays.
Wright Brothers National Memorial: Site of the First Controlled Powered Flight (109)
"The Impact of Airplanes:" In groups, have students research the role airplanes had in: World War I, World War II, Commerce and Industry, or Passenger Transportation during the first half of the 20th century. Each group should present their findings in an oral or written report, and discuss the worldwide impact of the Wright brothers' accomplishments.
Ybor City: Cigar Capital of the World (51)
"The Immigrant Experience:" Have each students write a paper describing how Cuban immigrants fit the pattern of immigrants entering the U.S. between 1880 and the early 1900s, and how they differed. Have the class discuss how the Cubans of Ybor City fit into the broader theme of large-scale immigration to America during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Lightning Lessons
Discover Colonel Young's Protest Ride for Equality and Country: A Lightning Lesson from Teaching with Historic Places, featuring the historic Colonel Charles Young House (Lightning Lesson 2)
"The First Draft of History: News Reporting and the Historian's Challenge:" Ask the students to theorize why the accounts are different, using examples from their classroom work and personal experiences, and how assumptions made in news reporting might affect the work of historians. Ask them to give an example of how a historian might solve problems with using news articles to study history. With their articles and study, students can write a one-page analysis to answer these questions or give a short oral presentation to the class.

(back to top)

Historic Preservation

The Battle of Glorieta Pass: A Shattered Dream (91)
• "War Memorials in the Local Community:" Have students research and report to the class if a historical battle took place in their community, locate it on a map, and determine if anything commemorates the location. Have them debate the value of honoring events and preserving the places where they occurred.
The Battle of Mill Springs: The Civil War Divides a Border State (72)
• "Community Action:" Have students find a memorial and describe it, including a physical description, what it says, and where it is located. Students may also want to research the history of this memorial.
Californio to American: A Study in Cultural Change (8)
• "Determining National Register Eligibility, Locating Significant Local Properties:" Have students use the selection criteria the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) to determine whether they think Rancho Los Alamitos or other Register buildings in their community should be included.
The Carlisle Indian Industrial School: Assimilation with Education after the Indian Wars (163)
"Preserving the American Indian Past, Present, and Future:" In this activity, as individuals or in small groups, have your students investigate either the preservation of a type of cultural knowledge (language, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, significant places, crafts and artisanal skills) in the United states OR a single sovereign tribe's efforts to preserve their whole culture.
Chatham Plantation: Witness to the Civil War (45)
• "Restoration of Chatham:" Have students pretend they are historic preservationists discussing the restoration of Chatham. Explain that the house documents more than 150 years of history. Do they think Chatham should be returned to its appearance at the time it was built, as it appeared during the Civil War, or as it was renovated in the early 20th century? Have students justify their answers.
Chicago's Black Metropolis: Understanding History through a Historic Place (53)
• "Nominating a Local Historic Place:" Ask each student to select a site, building, monument, or structure in their community that could be nominated for a local, state, or national register of historic places, research it, and create a narrative about that site, building, monument, or structure.
At a Crossroads: The King of Prussia Inn (119)
• "Endangered Sites:" Have students find out if there is a historic place in their community that is endangered, and in groups have students research the significance of one of the endangered places and what efforts are being made to preserve the place.
Digging into the Colonial Past: Archeology and the 16th-Century Spanish Settlements at Charlesfort-Santa Elena (155)
• "Historic Preservation in Your Community:" Have students organize a community service project that brings attention to a neglected local history site and gets your community involved in the preservation or restoration of the site. As a class, an action-plan should be developed to help organize the project.
“The Electric Project”: The Minidoka Dam and Powerplant (160)
• “How do you get your electricity?:” Have students work in groups to investigate power plants and stations in their community. Some of these facilities may be impressive structures that were sources of great local pride when they were first created. Ask the students to consider nominating these historic places to state or national registers.
Federal Courthouses and Post Offices: Symbols of Pride and Permanence
• "The National Register of Historic Places:" Ask each student to visit the National Register of Historic Places website and then describe in their own words the process by which a building is nominated and listed. The class as a whole can debate the value of documenting and officially recognizing historic resources.
First Battle of Manassas: An End to Innocence (12)
• "Manassas National Battlefield Park:" Have students debate this statement: "The United States should continue to maintain historic sites that commemorate important battle sites even though little substantial remains exist." Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Fiftieth Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act
• "Activity 1:" Divide students into groups and ask each group to select a place from their community that is listed in the National Register of Historic Places or one that they think should be listed. After they have completed their research, hold a class discussion about the benefits of historic preservation to the community. Have them share their findings with the PTA or a local historical organization in a PowerPoint presentation, a community walking tour, exhibits, or a website.
The Frankish Building: A Reflection of the Success of Ontario, California (43)
• "Determining Community Sites of Historic Significance:" Students in the class will learn how to identify and nominate eligible buildings to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). They will create a nomination for their home and a building in their community that they believe is eligible for inclusion on the Register.
“The Greatest Dam in the World”: Building Hoover Dam (140)
• "Public Works in the Local Community :" Have students work in small groups to identify and conduct research on public works in the area. Ask them to investigate the history of the examples they find and consider nominating them to state or national registers. If the properties need maintenance, the student may want to call that situation to the attention of local authorities.
Guilford Courthouse: A Pivotal Battle in the War for Independence (32)
• "Monuments to War:" In groups, have students find a war monuments in their community, take photos of it, and copy its inscriptions for an in-class discussion. Have students choose a battle and make a sketch of a monument with a fitting inscription, display their completed works, and discuss why monuments are erected and what they mean to the students.
Lafayette Park: First Amendment Rights on the President’s Doorstep (139)
• "First Amendment Rights in the Local Community:" Have students identify places in the community associated with disputes over First Amendment rights. Hold a whole class discussion of whether it is better to preserve these places or to try to forget about the painful events associated with them as quickly as possible.
“Making the Desert Bloom”: The Rio Grande Project (141)
• "Where Does Your Water Come From? :" Have students work in groups to investigate the water system in their community. Some of these water-related facilities may be impressive structures that were sources of great local pride when they were first created. Ask the students to consider nominating these historic places to state or national registers.
Mammoth Cave: Its Explorers, Miners, Archeologists, and Visitors (35)
• "Caring for Local Resources:" In groups, have students investigate how one of their community’s established natural or historic resources is preserved. Have them take that knowledge and devise a preservation and conservation plan for another site they think ought to be preserved, but which is not yet protected.
Memories of Montpelier: Home of James and Dolley Madison (46)
• "A Historic Place in Your Neighborhood:" Have students find primary source evidence that describes the place, the people, and the daily lives of those that occupied a significant site in their community, and compare it with Montpelier. Have them work with their local historical society to develop a special exhibit for the community.
A Nation Repays Its Debt: The National Soldiers' Home and Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio (115)
• "Explore Your Community for Memorials:" Have students locate and visit a war memorial in their community and have them create an exhibit for the school about the memorial. If the memorial needs to be conserved, have students prepare a letter to the city or local historical society asking them for help in preserving it.
The Octagon of Washington, D.C.: The House that Helped Build a Capital (151)
"The Buildings that Built Your Town:" Have the class discuss the merits of saving old buildings and ask them to identify important buildings in their community. Have the students research local buildings, create posters or display boards to showcase their features and history, and then work together to nominate one to the National Register.
The Old Court House in St. Louis: Yesterday & Today (9)
• "Historic Preservation:" Have students identify and research an older public building in their own community. If possible have a local preservation expert visit the class to discuss how decisions are made as to whether to preserve such buildings.
Roadside Attractions (6)
• "The Auto and the Local Community:" Have students investigate the ways the automobile changed their community, whether any examples of the types of fanciful vernacular architecture or public art studied in this lesson exist or ever existed in their community, and if efforts are being made to preserve these artifacts.
The Rockets' Red Glare": Francis Scott Key and the Bombardment of Fort McHenry (137)
• "Places That Define the Community:" Students could volunteer to work with the local historical society or other interested group to care for or protect a historic place that is threatened by neglect or destructive change. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
The Rosenwald Schools: Progressive Era Philanthropy in the Segregated South (159)
• “Discover History in Your Local Historic Places:” Have your students work in small groups and use the National Register database to identify a historic building or buildings in their county or region and then investigate the history of that site.
The Shields-Ethridge Farm: The End of a Way of Life (145)
• "Our Agrarian Past:" Have students work in groups to select a farm in their community and research its history to find out if it is eligible for listing on the National Register. If not, students can write a letter to their state historic preservation office to urge its inclusion or write their own nomination and submit it to the office.
Thomas P. Kennard House: Building a Prairie Capital (149)
• "Places where your state made history:" Have students investigate local historic buildings and produce a poster series about them that could be displayed at a local cultural institution, like a library or historical society.
Tonto National Monument: Saving a National Treasure (125)
• "Preservation Debate:" Have students research the history of a preservation controversy in their community. Have two groups debate each other on whether they should favor preservation or development, and as a class vote on their position explaining which side they think presented the best argument.
Two American Entrepreneurs: Madam C.J. Walker and J.C. Penney
"Researching a Local Business:" Have students discuss whether it is important to preserve buildings as part of their community's history, like the Walker building in Indianapolis and the Penney buildings in Kemmerer?
Lightning Lessons
Discover the Mary Ann Shadd Cary House (Lightning Lesson 1)
• "Preserving Historic Places in your Local Community :" Ask students to identify challenges facing a local historic site and design a plan to overcome those challenges OR develop an interpretive plan for a site. Students should develop a presentation about their plan to share with the class and with policy makers.

(back to top)

Historical Interpretation


The Battle of Midway: Turning the Tide in the Pacific (90)
• "Remembering the Battle of Midway:" Have students discuss whether there is an alternate way to help Americans remember the battle given the difficulty of traveling to Midway and an appropriate site for a memorial marker. In small groups prepare an inscription of about 100 words that could be placed on an interpretive marker. As a class, compare the ideas and chose one that best presents important information about the Battle of Midway.
The Battle of Oriskany: "Blood Shed a Stream Running Down" (79)
• "Where Do I Stand?, The Lost Battlefield:" Have students create a “living history” interpretation of the Battle of Oriskany by creating costumes and either giving an oral report in the character of a historic person who participated or working in groups to reenact the battle and filming the reenactment.
"Comfortable Camps?" Archeology of the Confederate Guard Camp at the Florence Stockade (142)
• "Archeology of Your Room:" Have students examine the contents of their room at home and think about what items would survive if buried in the ground for a long time and which would not. First, have each student write an essay describing what they think would be found and why, as well as why they think it would be interpreted. Second, have the class discuss how the things found at the site of their room would differ from the things recovered at the Florence Stockade and how they are the same.
“The Electric Project”: The Minidoka Dam and Powerplant (160)
• “How do you get your electricity?:” Have students work in groups to investigate power plants and stations in their community. Some of these facilities may be impressive structures that were sources of great local pride when they were first created. Ask the students to consider nominating these historic places to state or national registers.
Embattled Farmers and the Shot Heard Round The World: The Battles of Lexington and Concord (150)
"Recitation: “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere”:" Have students read and analyze the poet Longfellow’s “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.” Then, have them select an event in recent history and write their own poem to tell the story of the event.
"The Honor of Your Company is Requested": Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Ball at the Patent Office (143)
“Learning a Period Dance:” Have students list various dances and musical selections on a dance card from Lincoln’s second inaugural ball. Put students into pairs to learn the waltz. Time permitting, students can research other dances and musical selections played at the 1865 ball.
“Making the Desert Bloom”: The Rio Grande Project (141)
• "Where Does Your Water Come From?:" Have students work in groups to investigate historic water-related facilities in their local community. Ask each group to select one of these properties and to develop an exhibit, a podcast, an online brochure or tour, a short documentary, an article for the local newspaper or historical society newsletter, an on-site tour, or other interpretive product. Offer these interpretive materials to organizations such as the local historical society, library, and/or chamber of commerce.
New Philadelphia: A Multiracial Town on the Illinois Frontier (130)
• "Telling the Story of New Philadelphia:" Historic places like New Philadelphia, where there are no standing structures, still can tell stories about the past. Divide the class into three groups and ask them to discuss the best way to use the information that has been collected about New Philadelphia.
The Octagon of Washington, D.C.: The House that Helped Build a Capital (151)
"A Letter from the 19th Century:" Have students each pick and then research a historical figure and an event. Ask them each to use what they learned to write a letter about the event they chose and their lives in the capital city.
Saugus Iron Works: Life and Work at an Early American Industrial Site (30)
• "Archeology:" In groups, have students choose an object they think would reveal something interesting about our culture to future archeologists. Have students write an exhibit label for their object. Then have the class discuss each artifact, and have them think about what they learned from trying to figure out the artifacts’ use.
The Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March: Shaking the Conscience of the Nation (133)
• "Civil Rights Work in the Local Community:" Ask students to find out whether buildings or other structures associated with civil rights activities still survive in the community. If so, have students do some research on them and prepare the text for markers that might be put on them.
Skagway: Gateway to the Klondike (75)
• "History and the Use of Local Buildings:" In small groups have students research a building in order to create an exhibit illustrating its history. The class should develop a promotional brochure or walking tour of their town about those buildings. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
The Vieux Carré: A Creole Neighborhood in New Orleans (20)
• "The Local Community:" Take students on a walking tour of a nearby ethnic neighborhood or commercial area with sketch pads and cameras in order to record architectural details. Have students point out differences between their local surroundings and the Vieux Carré and then create a brochure for the walking tour of their community.

(back to top)

Journalism/Newspaper Reporting

"Explore Disease at Carlisle with Science and Empathy:"
Suggest that they look up images of the cemetery or news articles about recent visits to the cemetery by members of the public to aid in the visualization of the site.
Castolon: A Meeting Place of Two Cultures (17)
• "Comparing Castolon to the Local Community:" Have students research and create a tabloid-sized newspaper of what was happening in their own community from 1920 to 1940.
Clara Barton's House: Home of the American Red Cross (27)
• "Women’s and Men’s Work:" Ask each member of the class to name an occupation they would be interested in pursuing, and make a chart comparing those listed by males with those listed by females to see if the lists differ. Students should then write an editorial to the local newspaper expressing their views on equality.
"The Great Chief Justice" at Home (49)
• "Inquiry on the Landmark Supreme Court Opinions of John Marshall:" Have students research the greatest Supreme Court decisions and opinions of Chief Justice Marshall. Then have students write a newspaper editorial supporting or opposing one of these decisions.
Growing into Public Service: William Howard Taft's Boyhood Home (15)
• "Leadership Characteristics :" Have students define characteristics associated with leadership. The identify someone in their community who fits those characteristics and interview that person. Write a profile of the interviewee and submit it to the school or local newspaper.
"The Honor of Your Company is Requested": Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Ball at the Patent Office (143)
“Telling the Story:” Have students review primary sources and texts in the unit and do research in local or state historical newspapers so that they can write a newspaper story, letter, or diary entry about the inaugural ball from the perspective of someone who would have attended.
Iron Hill School: An African-American One-Room School (58)
• "Collecting Oral Histories:" Have students write a newspaper article about an alumnus of their school that illustrates the differences between a school day then and now.
"Journey from Slavery to Statesman": The Homes of Frederick Douglass (147)
"Activity 4: Slavery All Over:" Have students research slavery in their state. How did state views compare with Douglass’s views on slavery? Have students look for an example of a modern social injustice and write an Op-Ed column with their point of view.
Lincoln Home National Historic Site: A Place of Growth and Memory (127)
• "A Newspaper Account:" In teams, have students write newspaper articles in support of Lincoln while others write counter positions about one of the following stories: Lincoln's "House Divided Speech" (1858), Lincoln’s Republican Party Presidential Nomination (1860), The Election of Abraham Lincoln (1860), Lincoln's Farewell from Springfield (1861), or Lincoln's Funeral (1865).
Remembering Pearl Harbor: The USS Arizona Memorial (18)
• "Pearl Harbor and the Casualties of War:" Have students imagine they are reporters at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor and write a short paper describing how they would have covered the news for their local daily papers including information about the surprise attack, the sinking of the Arizona, and the statistics about the casualties.
Separate But Equal? South Carolina's Fight Over School Segregation (158)
• "Extra! Extra! Unequal Education in the United States!:" Have each student write a news article about a group that has experienced discrimination and been barred from education in the United States. Ask each student to imagine he or she is a journalist during that era of discrimination writing about the group’s struggle the day after a historic milestone in the group’s progress. Publish your students’ articles on paper to display or in a class blog.
The Siege and Battle of Corinth: A New Kind of War (113)
• "Eyewitness to History:" Have students take on the role of either a Union or Confederate soldier, and have them write letters to family or friends or write articles for their hometown newspapers describing their experiences.
Springwood: Birthplace and Home to Franklin D. Roosevelt (82)
• "Remembering When:" In pairs, have students arrange to conduct an oral history interview with a willing senior citizen who remembers life during the Depression through videotaped interviews, snapshots and a written interview in a newspaper article format, or an audiotape.
Thomas P. Kennard House: Building a Prairie Capital (149)
• "Breaking news in the territory:" Have each student research and write a newspaper article as if they were a reporter in a western territory at the time the territory gained statehood and then give an oral report to the class about that state.
When Rice Was King (3)
• "Interviewing Plantation Residents:" In groups of three, have one student pretend to be a newspaper reporter from a northern city interviewing people living on a plantation, and the other two students act as children living on the plantation. As a class discuss if the students came up with similar kinds of details.
Lightning Lessons
Discover Colonel Young's Protest Ride for Equality and Country: A Lightning Lesson from Teaching with Historic Places, featuring the historic Colonel Charles Young House (Lightning Lesson 2)
"The First Draft of History: News Reporting and the Historian's Challenge:" Next, have students explore the concept of unintended or implicit bias in news reporting further. Journalists make assumptions based on who they think their audience is. Ask your students to search an online database of recent newspapers or digital archives of historical news publications to find two news articles from different publications about current events or another historical event. They should save or print out the two documents, study them, and be prepared to compare and contrast them.

Discover the Mary Ann Shadd Cary House (Lightning Lesson 1)
• "Nineteenth Century Urban Engineering and Home Comforts :" Have students study 19th century home life in this historical research and arts project. Students will research a home appliance that was available in late 19th century cities. Students will take their findings and interpret it in an art project (visual, digital, performance, etc). Exhibit the projects as appropriate.
• "From the Newspaper to the Podium :" Have students identify an injustice and then write a persuasive essay to inspire members of the student body to unite against the injustice. Next, ask students to prepare a short speech based on their essays. Finally, display your students’ essays as if they were 19th century editorial broadsides.

(back to top)

 

Local History Investigation

All TwHP lesson plans include at least one activity that leads students to research the history and historic places in their own communities related to the theme of the lesson. We include an index heading for this topic to reinforce the relationship between local and national history.

• "
African American Heritage in Your State:"
Have students create a list of local historic places related to African American history and then ask them to work in small groups to research one of the places, prepare a report in a format of your choice, and present the report during class or at a special event.
"Homesteading in the Local Region:" Have students research how Manifest Destiny and the Homestead Act relates to their community.
"Researching Important Women in Your Community's History:" Have students design and create an exhibit about an outstanding woman who lived (or lives) in the area.
Allegheny Portage Railroad: Developing Transportation Technology (23)
"Transportation Technology: Past, Present, and Future:" Have students research their community’s transportation history and write a paper on that topic. Ask students to imagine and describe the kinds of transportation they think might be available a century from now and hold a class discussion on the students’ responses.
An American Success Story: The Pope House of Raleigh, NC (124)
"Race Relations in Your Hometown:" Have students research and discuss race relations in their town. Ask them to conduct an interview with a community member who remembers life during the Jim Crow period. Have students submit their recordings either on paper or on tape to the local library or historical society.
America's Space Program: Exploring a New Frontier (101)
"What Price History?:" Have students discuss if the Apollo launch tower should have been preserved. In groups, have them find a place in their town associated with an important event that occurred in their or their parents' lifetimes. Have them decide if any or all of the places should be deemed historic and, if so, if it should be preserved and/or interpreted for future generations.
Andersonville: Prisoner of War Camp (11)
"Prisoner of War Camps:" Have students research the existence of prisoner of war camps (from any war) in their local area, their state, or a nearby state, and then compare this prison with Andersonville. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Arthurdale: A New Deal Community Experiment (157)
• "A New Deal for the United States:" Have students identify and research a New Deal public works project in their community, or research another way the New Deal affected people living there in the 1930s. Students will design a poster to describe the project and present in a class exhibit. If there's time left, facilitate a class discussion about the role of government in an economic crisis.
• "Heritage and Community Service:" Have small student groups identify a public service project related to preserving local history or heritage. For example, they may clean up a historic site, collect a community member's memories in an oral history, or design an exhibit on a local history topic. Have them submit a work plan before the project and a report on their accomplishments afterward.
At a Crossroads: The King of Prussia Inn (119)
"Community Research:" Have students research a historic inn, hotel, or tavern in their community, or have them research the history of a more modern local hotel. Students should give a brief oral or written report on their findings.
"Endangered Sites:" Have students find out if there is a historic place in their community that is endangered. In groups have students research the significance of one of the endangered places and what efforts are being made to preserve the place. Have the class compare each place to King of Prussia Inn.
Attu: North American Battleground of World War II (7)
"The Local Impact of World War II:" Have students investigate their region to see how it was affected by World War II.
Back Stairs at Brucemore: Life as Servants in early 20th-Century America (105)
"Built-in Service:" Have students visit a local historic home and determine who did the work to maintain it during the historic period and how that work was done. Have students identify buildings in their community that are used in a way different than their original purpose and create a display of historic and current photographs. Students should collect floor plans and bring them to class for discussion on the house.
The Battle of Bennington: An American Victory (107)
"Moments of Heroism:" Ask students to survey older members of the community to identify events in the past that filled residents with pride. Have students create a rough sketch about those events for possible display as an "art gallery" for their school and community.
The Battle of Bentonville: Caring for Casualties of the Civil War (69)
"In Your Own Community:" Have students investigate any mobile military hospitals based in their area and have a representative come into the class to discuss what they do. If there is no community organization, contact a local physician. Compare the discussions and have students interview wounded veterans and community volunteers to learn about their experiences.
The Battle of Bunker Hill: Now We Are at War (42)
"Community Issues:" Have students investigate their community to find out if there was a significant issue, recent or long ago, that united or divided the local citizens. Have students work together to prepare a report about this event and discuss other ways in which the problem could have been solved.
The Battle of Glorieta Pass: A Shattered Dream (91)
"War Memorials in the Local Community:" Have students research and report to the class if a historical battle took place in their community, locate it on a map, and determine if anything commemorates the location. Have them debate the value of honoring events and preserving the places where they occurred.
The Battle of Honey Springs: The Civil War Comes to the Indian Territory (68)
"Working Together Across Ethnic Lines:" Have students consider their communities and whether there are examples in which distinct groups previously at odds banded together to meet a common goal. After this discussion, assign a skit or a written or oral report where students further study and learn about their example.
The Battle of Horseshoe Bend: Collision of Cultures (54)
"Discovering Traces of Local American Culture:" Have students separate into small groups to research the names of towns and cities in their region to see if any of them are derived from original American Indian inhabitants and if any European American/American Indian battles took place in their area.
The Battle of Midway: Turning the Tide in the Pacific (90)
"Local War Memorials:" Have students work in groups to investigate and list the types of war memorials that exist in their community. As a class, discuss the types of war memorials in the local community and consider other ways to commemorate wars.
The Battle of Mill Springs: The Civil War Divides a Border State (72)
"Community Action:" Have students find a memorial and describe it, including a physical description, what the inscription says, and where the memorial is located. Students may also want to research the history of this memorial.
The Battle of Oriskany: "Blood Shed a Stream Running Down" (79)
"In the Grip of Fear:" Have students produce a written, pictorial, or video report describing a controversial issue which has divided their community.
The Battle of Prairie Grove: Civilian Recollections of the Civil War (70)
"Reliability of Historic Sources:" Have students choose an important or controversial event that involved local residents. Have them research the event, record an interview with a relative or neighbor who was involved in some way with this event, and write a report that describes the oral history and evaluates its accuracy.
"The Civil War in Your Area:" In groups, have students look at nine historical events associated with the Civil War and what happened in their community in relation to each event; then have each group report its findings to the class. Afterwards, have the class design an exhibit around their community's Civil War legacy.
"Monuments and Memorials:" Have students determine what war memorials or grave sites exist in their community. Examine the memorial and report their findings to the class.
The Battle of Stones River: The Soldiers' Story (40)
"Civil War Participation:" Have students check to determine if soldiers from the state where their school is located, or from the states in which the students were born, fought at the Battle of Stones River. Have students research to find out if any Civil War battles occurred in their state. If so, have students describe the battles; if not, have them discuss why their state did not take part in the war in that way.
"War Memorials in the Local Community:" Have students locate a war memorial in their community to compare with the Hazen Brigade monument. Ask them to draw their own sketch for a monument of any battle or war that affected their community.
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania: A Moravian Settlement in Colonial America (59)
"Mapping a Neighborhood:" Have students compare photos of the buildings in Bethlehem with the oldest buildings they can find in their community, discussing the similarities or differences found in size, purpose, and building materials and what may account for the differences. Then have students locate a copy of the oldest map or drawing possible of their community and compare it with Drawing 2 of Bethlehem in 1766. Have students identify the building types on Drawing 2 and the map of their community and color the buildings according to type. In a class discussion, have students compare the two communities looking at the reason each community was founded, whether each community was planned or grew haphazardly, and what buildings, services, and businesses appeared first.
Birthplace of John F. Kennedy: Home of the Boy Who Would Be President (33)
"Who Am I?:" Have students research and write about aspects of heredity and environment that have shaped who they are.
Boston's Arnold Arboretum: A Place for Study and Recreation (56)
"Researching a Local Park:" Have students choose a local park or other green space to study. Encourage students to prepare a short oral report for class or present their information in a research paper.
Brown v. Board: Five Communities That Changed America (121)
"School Segregation in the Local Community:" Divide students into two groups and have one group research public schools in their town in the period leading up to the Brown ruling, while the other researches schools in the years following the Brown ruling. Have each group explain its findings and create an exhibit to display.
Bryce Canyon National Park: Hoodoos Cast Their Spell (64)
"The Local Landscape:" Have the students look carefully at the natural landscape of the community before and after people populated the area and discuss how the landscape was formed, how it changed after human interaction and what it may look like in the future.
Building America's Industrial Revolution: The Boott Cotton Mills of Lowell, MA (21)
"Local Industrial Development:" Have students research their community to discover what industries were important to its growth, when they developed, and how long they were in existence. Compare these industries with a textile mill like the Boott.
The Building of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (10)
"Transportation and the Local Community:" Have students work alone or in groups to investigate the early transportation systems of their community.
Californio to American: A Study in Cultural Change (8)
"Locating Significant Local Properties:" Have students examine a property in their own community that is listed on the National Register or that students believe should be listed. Have them discuss which areas of significance they would use if they were preparing a nomination for that property, and how they would justify their decisions.
The Carlisle Indian Industrial School: Assimilation with Education after the Indian Wars (163)
• "Preserving the American Indian Past, Present, and Future:" In this activity, as individuals or in small groups, have your students investigate either the preservation of a type of cultural knowledge (language, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, significant places, crafts and artisanal skills) in the United states OR a single sovereign tribe's efforts to preserve their whole culture.
Camp Misty Mount: A Place for Regrowth (47)
"Determining the Success of Jobs Programs:" Have students investigate the economic conditions in their community during the Depression, identify the major businesses in the area today, devise a jobs program that would provide short-term employment and have long-term benefit for the community, and compare their ideas with the jobs programs of the 1930s.
Carnegie Libraries: The Future Made Bright (50)
"Libraries in the Local Community:" Have students research the history of their local library and write a report, create a timeline, or design an exhibit.
Castolon: A Meeting Place of Two Cultures (17)
"Comparing Castolon to the Local Community:" Have students research and create a tabloid-sized newspaper of what was happening in their community from 1920 to 1940. Ask students to draw a timeline comparing their community with Castolon.
Chatham Plantation: Witness to the Civil War (45)
"Living Through a War:" In small groups, have students interview someone in their community or members of their family who lived through a war or a natural disaster. Following oral presentations, have the class discuss how the experiences of these local people compared or contrasted with the experiences of those whose lives the Civil War impacted.
Chattanooga, Tennessee: Train Town (52)
"Researching Your Community’s Railroad History:" Have students find out more about the history of railroads in their community by investigating local and state histories, newspapers, and photograph collections at the library. Have students examine the long-term effects of the railroad on your community and discuss the current impact, or reasons for the lack of impact, of the railroad on your community. Have students describe the main transportation routes in their community today and whether the areas connected by these routes are the same as those that were connected by the railroads.
"The Roles of Geography and Promotion:" Have students ask local business owners how important transportation is to their business, and how it is provided. See if they can determine whether the availability of transportation affected decisions about where to locate or relocate local businesses.
Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Chesterwood: The Workshop of an American Sculptor (100)
"Public Art in the Community:" Have students select and research an example of three-dimensional art in their own community to study. Then have students photograph or make a sketch of the work to show to the class and explain to the class what they think its "message" was intended to be and how it conveys that message. Have them also describe what elements they found that seem similar to those found in French's work.
Chicago's Black Metropolis: Understanding History through a Historic Place (53)
"Nominating a Local Historic Place:" Have each student select a site, building, monument, or structure in their community that could be nominated for a local, state, or national register of historic places. Have them complete the "action" steps in the chart from Activity 2 for that place and use the information to create a narrative similar to the reading.
Chicago's Columbus Park: The Prairie Idealized (81)
"Save that Site:" Have students research a historic or natural site in their community which is endangered due to population pressures, pollution, development, etc. Students should share the information they have found about the site, what threatens it, and why it is worthy of being preserved in the form of a skit, play, or masque (outdoor play).
Choices and Commitments: The Soldiers of Gettysburg (44)
"Persuasive Writing and Speaking:" Ask students to think of a problem or controversial issue facing their community and write a persuasive speech that will energize people to work toward finding a solution. As Lincoln did in his Gettysburg Address, have students limit their speeches to 300 words. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Clara Barton's House: Home of the American Red Cross (27)
"Local Assistance Groups:" Have students investigate organizations in their area which offer assistance; research them to discover their history, similarities, and differences; and look at them in comparison to the Red Cross. Brainstorm ideas for assistance within their own community and discuss ideas with an organization representative.
Coffeyville, Kansas: The Town That Stopped the Dalton Gang (99)
"Famous Events in the Community:" Have students talk to older people in their community to determine whether any famous event occurred there, have them research local newspapers to see how the event was covered, and hold a class discussion about whether the event should be commemorated.
"Comfortable Camps?" Archeology of the Confederate Guard Camp at the Florence Stockade (142)
"Learning about war veterans buried in your Community:" Have students conduct research on either a local or national cemetery and participate in a commemorative program like decorating graves with flags for Veterans and Memorial Day.
"Women in the Civil War:" Have students research the experience of women in the Civil War to women in the military today. Ask the local VFW or American Legion Post to help identify veterans in the community who would let students interview them.
Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park: Where the Wright Brothers Conquered the Air (111)
"Inventions and the Community:" Have students research an invention that has had an important influence on their community. The students will focus on its history and why it is important to the community.
Decatur House: A Home of the Rich and Powerful (19)
"What Makes a Hero?:" Have students research heroes in their own communities, determining what kinds of deeds made him or her a hero, and whether any places still standing in the community today are associated with him or her. Have students determine if there is some other commemoration or memorial in the community.
"Access to Power:" Have students name some political positions at the local level such as the school board chairman, mayor, or county supervisor. Discuss whether or not it is easier to arrange a personal visit with such individuals than those at a higher level. Have students consider if their individual support or disapproval, or that of their parents, is likely to have more of an impact at the local or state level.
Digging into the Colonial Past: Archeology and the 16th-Century Spanish Settlements at Charlesfort-Santa Elena (155)
•"Local History, Local Treasures:" Divide your class into groups and assign each group a time period or era that is part of your community's heritage. Have them present their narrative on a poster board and have them highlight the artifacts they believe help people today understand the era.
"Historic Preservation in Your Community:" Have students organize a community service project that brings attention to a neglected local history site and gets your community involved in the preservation or restoration of the site, through an action-plan that includes fundraising, volunteers and advertising.
“The Electric Project”: The Minidoka Dam and Powerplant (160)
• “How do you get your electricity?:” Have students work in groups to investigate power plants and stations in their community. Some of these facilities may be impressive structures that were sources of great local pride when they were first created. Ask the students to consider nominating these historic places to state or national registers.
Embattled Farmers and the Shot Heard Round The World: The Battles of Lexington and Concord (150)
"Local Commemoration:" Have small student groups design a memorial to an important local figure and then give persuasive speeches to win the class’s vote for best memorial. The class will then take the winner’s design, polish it, and then present the idea to local government as a service learning project.
The Emerald Necklace: Boston's Green Connection (86)
"Plan Your Own Park:" Using historic and current street maps, topographical maps, and zoning maps, have students compare and contrast the type of information each map contains and locate existing parks and/or park systems. Have students work in groups to discuss possible locations and designs for a park, park system, or greenway, taking into account the topography, history, developed area, and zoning restrictions on the maps. After each group has presented its plan, ask the class, acting as the Parks Commission, to vote on which plan they will adopt.
Enduring Awatovi: Uncovering Hopi Life and Work on the Mesa (156)
• "Documenting Historic Agriculture in Your Community:" Have small groups study a local historic farm to research agriculture in your community. This activity has two options: investigate the historic farm through research only OR investigate and document via photography the historic farm during a field trip. Students will present their findings on poster boards. For the second option, students can create a digital gallery or printed photo exhibit.
Federal Courthouses and Post Offices: Symbols of Pride and Permanence in American Communities (97)
• "What If... :" Have students work in small groups to identify and conduct research on a courthouse, post office, or other government building in the area. Ask them to investigate the history of the building, its impact on the community when it was built, and the role it plays today. Have them incorporate what they have learned into a poster or exhibit for display at a local library or historical society.
First Battle of Manassas: An End to Innocence (12)
"Local and Personal Impact of the Civil War:" Have students investigate their own home town or county to determine if it played a role in the Civil War. Students also could look for evidence of the indirect impact of issues leading up to the war or of the war's aftermath, including circumstances under which the state entered the Union, veterans who explored or settled the area, or ongoing conflicts. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
First Lady of the World: Eleanor Roosevelt at Val-Kill (26)
"Local Volunteer Organizations:" Ask students to make a list of the volunteer groups and programs in their community and while working in small groups, have the students write and essay on one of the organization’s history and structure. Hold a class discussion and consider volunteering for the organization.
Floyd Bennett Field: Naval Aviation's Home in Brooklyn (120)
"WWII in the Local Community:" Have students study the effects of World War II on their town, create a display reflecting what they learned, locate sites where they can go on field trips, and write a report on their experience. Have them help plan a program for Veterans Day or Memorial Day honoring local veterans.
Fort Hancock: A Bastion of America's Eastern Seaboard (37)
"Your Community- Defense and the Economy:" Have students research their own community to determine if there are any military installations or arms manufacturers nearby, and have them research what has happened to them since 1980. Then hold a debate on the effects of a military installation or defense factory on communities.
Fort Morgan and the Battle of Mobile Bay (73)
"Building a Fort:" Divide students into small groups and ask each group to research a military installation that existed in their region.
Fort Pickens and the Outbreak of the Civil War (38)
"Military Installation in the Local Community:" Ask students to investigate their region to determine if there is a military base in the area, have them research the military base, and hold a classroom discussion based on the students’ findings.
Fiftieth Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act
"Activity 1:" Divide students into groups and ask each group to select a place from their community that is listed in the National Register of Historic Places or one that they think should be listed. Ask them to visit the site and complete an Observation Worksheet. If the place is not listed, have students look for information in the local library or historical society. After they have completed their research, hold a class discussion about the benefits of historic preservation to the community. Have them share their findings with the PTA or a local historical organization in a PowerPoint presentation, a community walking tour, exhibits, or a web site.
Forts of Old San Juan: Guardians of the Caribbean (60)
"Comparing an Old City to a New City:" Have students go to the library or local historical society to obtain an old map, or series of maps, of the local area to chart how their town has changed over the years.
"Photographing History:" Have students, either working alone or as part of a group, prepare a photo essay that tells the story of an important historic site in their community.
La versión en español Los Castillos del Viejo San Juan: Guardianes del Caribe
The Frankish Building: A Reflection of the Success of Ontario, California (43)
"Looking at a Building:" Have students research and write up a report about the founders of their community and whether any of the buildings there were built by or related to a town founder.
Frederica: An 18th-Century Planned Community (31)
"Planned Communities:" Have students research and compare different models and histories of planned communities in colonial and modern times, as well as their own community and hold a class discussion on their findings.
The Freeman School: Building Prairie Communities (80)
"How Did My Town Grow:" Ask students to find out which school in their city is the oldest and research its history. Ask students to share their findings through oral, written, display, or computer slide-show presentations.
From Canterbury to Little Rock: The Struggle for Educational Equality for African Americans
"The History of Public Education in the Local Community:" Have students work in groups to research the history of public education in their community, and have them prepare a report or presentation. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Glen Echo Park: Center for Education and Recreation (24)
"An Old Fashioned Independence Day:" Ask students to reenact the Fourth of July celebration held at the Glen Echo Chautauqua in 1892 by assuming the roles of the people who took part. If possible, have students stage the program for another class. Have the class research to see if this kind of program was ever held in their community.
"Recreation and Segregation:" Have students research the history of their community to see what groups faced prejudice in the past and which ones are facing it today. After they complete their research, have them present their findings to the class and discuss what they could do to promote more interaction in the community.
Glorieta and Raton Passes: Gateways to the Southwest (117)
"Close to Home:" Working in small groups, have students prepare a written or oral report on their community's role in the westward movement. Have groups investigate if there are any places in their community that relate to this period, such as roadways, farms, buildings, or memorials.
Going-to-the-Sun Road: A Model of Landscape Engineering (95)
"Investigating the Local Community:" Have students identify and research a road that is important to their community.
Gold Fever! Seattle Outfits the Klondike Gold Rush (55)
"Opportunity Knocks:" In groups, have students prepare a written or oral report on an event that brought dramatic economic and/or social change to their town or region. If any buildings or monuments related to the event still exist, collect or take photographs and describe how the place is related to their event.
Gran Quivira: A Blending of Cultures in a Pueblo Indian Village (66)
"The Puebloans and Local Indians:" In groups, have students research and present their findings about the lives of American Indians who lived in their region from about A.D. 1300 to 1660, emphasizing the similarities and differences between these groups and the people of Gran Quivira.
"The Great Chief Justice" at Home (49)
"Historic Sites in the Local Community:" Have students research a historic site in their community associated with an important figure and prepare a written report. Have them read their reports aloud and participate in a classroom discussion on whether they feel it is important to preserve historic sites that are associated with important persons of the past.
Growing into Public Service: William Howard Taft's Boyhood Home (15)
"Leadership Characteristics:" Have students identify someone in their community who fit the characteristics of a leader. If possible, have them interview this person, using a set of questions they have developed. Then, have students write a profile of the person and submit it to the school or local newspaper.
"Practicing Leadership Skills:" Have students define the term "neighborhood." Have them compare their neighborhood to the one in which William Howard Taft grew up.
Guilford Courthouse: A Pivotal Battle in the War for Independence (32)
"Eyewitness Accounts:" Invite one or more eyewitnesses from your community who have witnessed significant events such as battles of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, or natural disasters such as floods, tornados, or earthquakes to speak to the class and give their perspectives on what happened.
"Monuments to War:" If there is a Revolutionary site in the local community or region, ask students to visit it and then compare its role in the outcome of the Revolution with that of Guilford Courthouse. In groups, have students find a war monument in their community, take photos of it, and copy its inscriptions for an in-class discussion.
Harry Truman and Independence, Missouri: "This is Where I Belong" (103)
"Why Preserve Old Buildings?:" Have students look at an old building in their neighborhood and take pictures to document their findings. Ask them what they can find out simply by looking at it, such as when it was built or why. If possible, have them conduct an interview with someone who lived or worked there. Ask students to conduct research at the library, community historical society, or courthouse and share their findings in a class presentation.
Herbert Hoover: Iowa Farm Boy and World Humanitarian (34)
"Citizenship and the Local Community:" Have students conduct a survey to gather information about community definitions of good citizenship, including the values and aspects of community history that have helped shape those viewpoints. Hold a class discussion based on the results of the survey and ask students to develop their own definition of good citizenship and list ways in which they could act as good citizens in the community.
The Hispano Ranchos of Northern New Mexico: Continuity and Change (96)
"Building and Culture:" Have students investigate groups that played a role in the early history of their community and whether there are surviving structures associated with them. Ask students to find examples of the same types of structures from other parts of the country and compare them with the local examples.
"Continuity and Change in the Community:" Have students investigate their community to find out about the first settlers there and then describe how customs have changed between the time of the first settlers and today. Hold a class discussion about early life in their community.
"The Honor of Your Company is Requested": Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Ball at the Patent Office (143)
“Telling the Story:” Have students review primary sources and texts in the unit and do research in local or state historical newspapers so that they can write a newspaper story, letter, or diary entry about the inaugural ball from the perspective of someone who would have attended.
Hopewell Furnace: A Pennsylvania Iron-making Plantation (97)
"Working at Hopewell:" In three groups—furnace work, forest work, and field work—have students list all the jobs in their category, and on a chalkboard draw three circles (furnace, forest, and field) and ask each group to report its list. Students should also research a local industry or business to find out if workers there are as interdependent as those at Hopewell.
"Economic History in the Local Community:" Have students research the economic history of their local community and state to find out how it resembled colonial Pennsylvania and Hopewell.
Independence Hall: International Symbol of Freedom (132)
"Local Government Buildings:" Have students research a building where local government officials meet (or the state capitol building if students live in or near the state capital). If possible, arrange to have the class take a tour and/or sit in on a public meeting. Findings could be presented in a written report, an oral presentation, or a visual display. Students may also want to compare the design and layout of the local meeting room with the Assembly Room at Independence Hall and discuss similarities and differences.
The Invention Factory: Thomas Edison's Laboratories (25)
"Researching the Local Community:" Have students research their community to see how changes in technology and industry have altered the landscape. Have students produce a classroom or hallway display that shows these changes.
Iolani Palace: A Hawaiian Place of History, Power, and Prestige (161)
• "Discover Civic Activism at Iolani Palace and in Your Community:" Have students research recent activist events at the Iolani Palace. Next, moderate a class discussion about the ways the Palace has been used over the years. Finish by having students use the National Register of Historic Places database to write essays about historic places used in civic activism (may be local).
Iron Hill School: An African-American One-Room School (58)
"The History of Your School:" Have students research their school to find out who designed the building, when it was built, and what conditions influenced the plan and the style, and have them try to discover how the school building has been altered, adapted, and updated over time.
Johnson Lake Mine: Mining for Tungsten in Nevada's Snake Range (110)
"Life During WWI:" Have students research events in their community during World War I, including how their community supported the war effort, and have them make class presentations.
The Joseph Bellamy House: The Great Awakening in Puritan New England (85)
"Historical Research in the Community:" In small groups, have students identify an individual who was prominent in the history of their community. Have them investigate what documents, artifacts, historic places, and/or place names associated with the person remain in the town.
"Journey from Slavery to Statesman": The Homes of Frederick Douglass (147)
"Activity 4: Slavery All Over:" Have students research slavery in their state. How did state views compare with Douglass’s views on slavery? Have students look for an example of a modern social injustice and write an Op-Ed column with their point of view.
Keys Ranch: Where Time Stood Still (65)
"Local Community History:" In groups, have students research the history of their town to create a timeline and to illustrate their timelines with photographs of buildings or monuments. Have them compare and discuss the events of their timeline.
Knife River: Early Village Life on the Plains (1)
"Researching Local Indians:" Have students compare what they have learned about Knife River with information about early life in the Americas found in American history texts. Have students research the Indian groups who lived in their region, visit a local museum that displays prehistoric artifacts, and create matrices about these various Indian groups for comparison.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition: Documenting the Uncharted Northwest (108)
"Creating Maps:" Have students walk around their neighborhood or the area surrounding their school and draw a map of the area with a scale and a legend. Display the finished maps in the classroom and share with classmates what they learned from the experience. Then have students compare their own maps to an actual map of the school grounds or their neighborhood file at the local library or with the town.
The Liberty Bell: From Obscurity to Icon (36)
"Symbols in the Local Community:" Have the class list reasons why people use symbols, and ask them to look for and list several patriotic symbols found in their community or found in advertisements in order to evaluate each symbol and draw conclusions about their use for commercial purposes.
Liberty Ships and Victory Ships, America's Lifeline in War (116)
"Carrying the Supplies:" Ask students to locate farms or factories in their community that supplied the war effort, and have them research how they supported the war. Students should share the information they have discovered in the form of papers, project boards, computer slide shows, skits, or oral presentations.
Life on an Island: Early Settlers Off the Rock-Bound Coast of Maine (16)
"Living on an Island:" In two groups, have students list the advantages of the way of life on two separate islands. At the end have a spokesperson speak to a “visiting journalist” about their way of life. Have each group research everyday life in the early 1800s for people living in their own community.
"Local History:" Have students create their own historical museum with prepared documents of written short accounts of their own family history, family papers, and artifacts. Students should also write about their current lives or a current issue as if they were writing in 2050.
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial: Forging Greatness during Lincoln's Youth (126)
"Important Figures in Your Local Community:" Have students conduct research on an important figure in their own community, preferably one associated with a historic site. Then prepare a presentation including visuals.
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial: Where Man and Memory Intersect (144)
“Local Memorial Study:” Have students, individually or in groups, select a memorial to research using primary sources. The students should visit the memorial and either take a photograph or make a drawing to share with the class.
Lincoln Home National Historic Site: A Place of Growth and Memory (127)
"A Visit from a Hometown Politician:" Invite a locally elected official to talk to the class on his or her experience in politics, with students asking questions. Hold a class discussion where students compare the local official and Abraham Lincoln.
Little Kinnakeet Lifesaving Station: Home to Unsung Heroes (57)
"Today's Lifesavers:" Arrange for the class to visit a local fire station (or Coast Guard station if possible). Have students prepare a list of questions to ask a member of the rescue team about lifesaving procedures and training as well as about the history of the station building and how the space is used by the rescue personnel.
Locke and Walnut Grove: Havens for Early Asian Immigrants in California
"Ethnic Enclaves:" Have students research the history of their community through local histories and photographs.
Log Cabins in America: The Finnish Experience (4)
"Folk Housing:" Have students research the most common type of folk housing found in their region and if possible visit some examples of these houses. Students should identify the type of material the house is made of and compare that structure to log cabins.
“Making the Desert Bloom”: The Rio Grande Project (141)
"Where Does Your Water Come From?:" Ask students to investigate the water system in their community. What structures and systems exist to obtain, store, purify, and deliver the water to consumers? Who built them? Some of these water-related facilities may be historic structures. Some may have been built by a governmental entity, others by private companies. Some may be impressive structures that were sources of great local pride when they were first created.
Mammoth Cave: Its Explorers, Miners, Archeologists, and Visitors (35)
"Caring for Local Resources:" Have students list some of the places in their community or region that are visited by tourists or are of special interest to the inhabitants of the community. Have students investigate how preservation of one of the established sites is funded. Working in small groups, ask students to identify another site, one that they think ought to be preserved, but which is not yet protected. Have the groups devise a conservation plan for their site.
Martin Van Buren's "Return to the Soil" (39)
"Local Political Campaigns:" Have the class as a whole to choose a local political race to investigate. Divide the class into two groups and have each group choose one of the candidates and gather information on the campaign. Ask a spokesperson from each group to present their findings to the class and hold a classroom discussion comparing the two campaigns. Ask students whom they would vote for and why. Find out if students became biased in favor of the candidate they researched. Why or why not?
The Mary McLeod Bethune Council House: African American Women Unite for Change (135)
"Honoring African Americans and Women in the Local Community:" Divide students into small groups and have each group select a site in the community that is associated with or memorializes African American or women's history (or both) and conduct a site visit, if possible. The groups should prepare a visual presentation on their findings and share it with the rest of the class.
The M'Clintock House: A Home to the Women's Rights Movement (76)
"Women's Rights in Your Area:" Have students use old newspapers, information from the local historical society, and other sources to research an important event in their community that reflected the battle over women's rights. Have students present their findings in a paper, an oral report, or another format that effectively tells their audience what happened and why.
Mechanics Hall: Symbol of Pride and Industry (87)
"Meeting Places:" Have students research and prepare a short report on public meeting spaces in their community describing the types, uses, and advantages.
"Local Research:" Ask students to investigate their area and compile a list of historic structures or sites. In teams, have students select one site and research it. Their reports may take the form of a written essay, an oral presentation or skit, a poster, or computer display.
Memories of Montpelier: Home of James and Dolley Madison (46)
"A Historic Place in Your Neighborhood:" Have students find primary source evidence that describes the place, the people, and the daily lives of those who occupied a significant site in their community, and compare it with Montpelier. Have them work with their local historical society to develop a special exhibit for the community.
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site: Protecting a Legacy of the Cold War (128)
"Nuclear and Cold War: A Shadow Over the World:" Have students conduct oral histories with their parents or community members who remember the Cold War. Have students discuss their interviews in class. Students should consider donating the oral histories to a local library or historical society to preserve these stories about the Cold War for future generations.
Mount Auburn Cemetery: A New American Landscape (84)
"Location is Everything:" Have students identify the location of a local cemetery on a map of their community. Then coordinate with your local library or historical society to arrange for students to see historic maps that show the location of the cemetery. Ask students to compare the area surrounding the cemetery on the historic and modern maps. Students might share their findings by writing an essay or article that compares the founding of your local cemetery with the founding of Mount Auburn Cemetery or making an exhibit comparing and contrasting the local cemetery with Mount Auburn Cemetery.
"Observing the Landscape:" Arrange for students to visit a local landscape, either a cemetery or park and compare it with Mount Auburn Cemetery. Then identify how people of their community use this landscape and how they seem to feel about it. Have students assess their emotional reaction to the landscape of their local cemetery and explain why they have that feeling.
A Nation Repays Its Debt: The National Soldiers' Home and Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio (115)
"Explore Your Community For Memorials:" Have students locate and visit a war memorial in their community and have them create an exhibit for the school about the memorial. If the memorial needs to be conserved, have students prepare a letter to the city or local historical society asking them for help in preserving it.
"Local Cemeteries:" Have students inventory the veteran grave sites in the local cemetery and create a database and status report on the markers to present to the caretaker, get an unmarked grave marked with a headstone, and research how to clean and care for a historic gravestone or marker. Students should volunteer to help clean the headstones or help with the grounds upkeep.
"A Soldier's Life:" Have students create a biography of the life of a war veteran for whom you have located a headstone, or an ancestor who served in a war. When completed, have the students donate the biography to the local historical society or library.
Navesink Lighthouse and Robbins Reef Lighthouse: Lighting the Way through New York Bay (131)
"Transportation in the Local Community:" Divide the class into small groups and have each group research and report on one transportation system (maritime, railroad, roads, airplanes, or subways) that was historically important in the community. Discuss how this information compares with what they have learned about the role of lighthouses and other aids to navigation in maritime travel and commerce.
New Kent School and the George W. Watkins School: From Freedom of Choice to Integration (104)
"History of My School:" Have students research the history of their school or a school in their community from 1954-1970 (essentially from the Brown decision through the implementation of the Green decision). Students should then write a paper comparing the situation in their community and school with the situation in New Kent County, Virginia.
New Philadelphia: A Multiracial Town on the Illinois Frontier (130)
"Discriminatory Legislation in the Local Community:" Have students discuss whether Black Codes or Jim Crow laws ever applied in their community. If not, have the class investigate whether there were other informal restrictions on local African Americans or on members of other minority groups, such as Hispanic- Americans, Asian-Americans, or American Indians.
North Carolina State Capitol: Pride of the State (61)
"Locating a Capital:" In small groups, have students research the towns in their state that might have had a good chance of becoming their state’s capital, and as a class, debate where they would locate the state capital. Have each group research the history of the state capitol building. Then have each group compare their capitol building to one from another state.
The No. 2 Quincy Shaft-Rockhouse: 9,240 Feet into the Earth (152)
• "Mining in the U.S.A.:" Have each student conduct an independent investigation into a local historic mining operation where people extracted coal, oil, or precious metals. Have students organize their findings individually in oral presentations or research papers, or create a class website together.
Not to Be Forgotten: Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery (123)
"Design a Memorial:" Have students determine if there are any soldier’s graves in the local cemetery and when and where the veteran/veterans served. Using familiar memorial forms, symbolism, and materials, have students design an appropriate memorial and identify a location for it.
The Octagon of Washington, D.C.: The House that Helped Build a Capital (151)
"The Buildings that Built Your Town:" Have the class discuss the merits of saving old buildings and ask them to identify important buildings in their community. Have the students research local buildings, create posters or display boards to showcase their features and history, and then work together to nominate one to the National Register.
The Ohio and Erie Canal: Catalyst of Economic Development for Ohio (41)
"The Effects of Transportation on Daily Life:" Ask students to consider if there are or were any industries in their region that developed as a result of a transportation system. Have them bring to class items they feel represent these industries. Finish with a discussion of how these industries affect their lives today.
"The Importance of Transportation Systems:" Have students work in groups to create a timeline or illustrated map of the nation’s transportation history, research a local transportation route or transportation system in order to create a local timeline or map, and compare both timelines or maps for class discussion.
The Old Court House in St. Louis: Yesterday & Today (9)
"Local and National Connections:" Have students search for examples of how their community is connected with the broader events and issues of concern to the nation, such as the environment or civil rights, and to determine where such issues are debated and discussed. Have students write short essays, comparing the degree of public interest and the location of discussions with those of the 1840s-1860s railroad controversy and the Old Courthouse. Then hold a class discussion about the role of public buildings in modern communities.
"Historic Preservation:" Have students identify and research an older public building in their own community; if possible have a local preservation expert visit the class to discuss how decisions are made as to whether to preserve such buildings.
The Old Mormon Fort: Birthplace of Las Vegas, Nevada (122)
"Your Town's Birth:" Divide students into teams and have them research the origins of their community and if any sites from that time still exist. If any still exist have students take a photograph or draw a picture of those sites that will accompany a written history of their community.
Paterson, New Jersey: America's Silk City (102)
"Local Industry:" In groups, have students research their community to determine what industries were important in its history, discuss their findings to try to determine why certain industries disappeared while others remained successful, and to find out whether any buildings remain that were associated with early industries.
The Penniman House: A Whaling Story (112)
"Community History:" Have students research their community’s history to determine what industry influenced its development, and in teams find out whether any homes of noteworthy persons associated with the industry survived. They should make a local history display and present it to the community.
President Lincoln's Cottage: A Retreat (138)
“Retreats in Your Local Community:” Have students investigate existing retreats in their own community and also create a proposed new retreat based on their research about retreats.
Remembering Pearl Harbor: The USS Arizona Memorial (18)
"Examining War Memorials:" Have students look for war memorials in their community. As a class, discuss what students can learn about their community's participation in World War II from these memorials.
Roadside Attractions (6)
"The Automobile and the Local Community:" Have students investigate the ways the automobile changed their community, whether any examples of the types of fanciful vernacular architecture or public art studied in this lesson exist or ever existed in their community, and if efforts are being made to preserve these artifacts.
The Rockets' Red Glare": Francis Scott Key and the Bombardment of Fort McHenry (137)
• "Places That Define the Community:" Ask students to search out places that help create their community’s identity and assign groups of students to find out more about each of these places. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
The Rosenwald Schools: Progressive Era Philanthropy in the Segregated South (159)
• “Discover History in Your Local Historic Places:” Have your students work in small groups and use the National Register database to identify a historic building or buildings in their county or region and then investigate the history of that site.
Run For Your Lives! The Johnstown Flood of 1889 (5)
"Investigating the Community:" Have students read local history books and interview older members of the community to see if any disasters occurred in the area in the past. If so, have them find out if the people involved were warned and able to escape, who or what caused the disaster, if the event could have been avoided, and --if so-- by what means.
Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site: Home of a Gilded Age Icon (48)
"Local Wonders:" Have students identify and research monuments in their own community. After students visit and photograph their monuments, have them compare the imagery, style, power to evoke emotion, realism, or symbolism with those employed by Saint-Gaudens. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
San Antonio Missions: Spanish Influence in Texas (2)
"Researching the Community:" Have students research their community to discover which religious groups were among the first settlers, and then compare their community's experience with that of San Antonio. Also, ask students to compare the architectural styles of different religious buildings, and hold a classroom discussion based on the results of the student's research.
Saratoga: The Tide Turns on the Frontier (93)
"Soldiers and Settlement:" Ask students to research their community to determine if there are any descendants of participants in the American Revolution who live there. Students may wish to compile their findings on a large map with pushpins identifying the names and hometowns of the participants they locate.
Saugus Iron Works: Life and Work at an Early American Industrial Site (30)
"Researching Industries in the Local Community:" Have students research and visit sites in their community to discover what elements of its early growth were alike and which different from the development of the Saugus Iron Works and the settlement of Hammersmith. Students should discuss the history of the economic base of the town and write a short paper describing an industry they would like to promote as Winthrop promoted Saugus Iron making.
Savannah, Georgia: The Lasting Legacy of Colonial City Planning (83)
"Then and Now in Your Town:" In teams or pairs, instruct students to research and locate a current and a historic map of their area and to analyze and discuss the development of their community as shown on the maps.
The Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March: Shaking the Conscience of the Nation (133)
"Civil Rights Work in the Local Community:" Have students check local newspapers of the period and talk to members of the community about what civil rights activities took place there and, if possible, have someone who participated in any of the civil rights marches to come speak to the class. Have students find out whether buildings or other structures associated with these activities still survive, do some research on them, and prepare the text for markers that might be put on them.
The Shields-Ethridge Farm: The End of a Way of Life (145)
• "Our Agrarian Past:" Have students study their community or region’s agrarian past by interviewing people who remember the land before it was developed, by studying maps of pre-development farmland, or by choosing a single farm to investigate its history.
The Siege and Battle of Corinth: A New Kind of War (113)
"Transportation in the Local Community:" Have students, in groups, research the transportation routes in their community, both past and present. As a class, create a local transportation history display to donate to the local library or historical society, or to display in their school.
The Siege of Port Hudson: "Forty Days and Nights in the Wilderness of Death" (71)
"Your Community Under Attack:" Have students determine if their community has ever suffered from warfare, natural disasters, or social pressures. Students should prepare a "historic marker" that documents the incident and display it for general class discussion.
Skagway: Gateway to the Klondike (75)
"History and Use of Local Buildings:" Have students compile a list of buildings that illustrate the development of their community, and in small groups have them research a building in order to create an exhibit illustrating its history. The class should develop a promotional brochure or walking tour of their town about those buildings. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
The Spanish Treasure Fleets of 1715 and 1733: Disasters Strike at Sea (129)
"Preserving Local Historic Resources:" In small groups, have students find and conduct research on a historic site in their community that is open to the public. If possible, have one group find out if there are any archaeological sites in the local area that are either under investigation or are already excavated and interpreted to the public. Groups should prepare an exhibit on the site that briefly outlines its history, explains when and how it opened to the public, and summarizes some of the issues involved in preserving the site today as well as how these issues are being addressed.
La versión en español Las flotas españolas de 1715 y 1733: Desastres en el mar (134)
Springwood: Birthplace and Home to Franklin D. Roosevelt (82)
"Remembering When:" In pairs, have students arrange to conduct an oral history interview with a willing senior citizen who remembers life during the Depression and create either a videotape of the interview, snapshots and a written report in a newspaper article format, or an audiotape.
Thaw in the Cold War: Eisenhower and Khrushchev at Gettysburg (29)
"Preparing for Nuclear War:" Have students interview someone who lived in their community or area in the 1950s and ask how they prepared for the possibility of nuclear war. Then have students find out if any physical evidence of the Cold War remains in their area such as fallout shelters or air raid sirens and report their findings to the class.
Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site: Birthplace of the Modern Presidency (77)
"Where Were You On The Day...?:" Have students interview one person who remembers what he or she was doing on one or more of the days when these events occurred: (1) the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, (2) the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, (3) the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, (4) the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986, and (5) any major event that occurred in their community that is still remembered today. Ask students to take notes and share what they have learned with the class.
"Buildings That Have Witnessed History:" Have students locate and trace the history of a building in their community that has served many purposes over the years. Have them make a timeline with information about the structure at various times in its history and events that occurred in the U.S. during that same time period.
These Honored Dead: The Battle of Rivers Bridge and Civil War Combat Casualties (94)
"Following the Local Boys Through the War:" Have students' research and write a history of a local unit that served in the Civil War or any war. They are to follow the war's course through the actions of the local unit. Then have students research to see if any local landmarks in the unit's history (a field where the unit first assembled, the site where it received its flag, or the train station where the troops departed for the front) still exist. Locate and trace the different places on a map where the unit was stationed or fought.
"Memories of War:" Have students identify a veteran of war or someone in your community who lived on the home front during wartime and interview him or her as a class project. Have students take a photo of the person they interview and include it with a brief biography as part of the oral history they give to the library or historical society.
"Monuments:" Have students locate soldiers' monument or war memorial in their hometown or county. Then have them prepare a class presentation on it with illustrations or photos.
Thomas Jefferson's Plan for the University of Virginia: Lessons from the Lawn (92)
"Local Schools:" In small groups, have students research the history of their school. Ask students to share their findings in a written report, oral presentation, computer slide-show, model, or exhibit.
Thomas P. Kennard House: Building a Prairie Capital (149)
• "Local history on the Web:" Split the class up into small groups and have each group research an aspect of your town or county’s history. Have students create a blog or website about their local history to publish their discoveries online.
• "Places where your state made history:" Have students investigate local historic buildings and produce a poster series about them that could be displayed at a local cultural institution, like a library or historical society.
Thurmond: A Town Born from Coal Mines and Railroads (28)
"Transportation Then and Now:" Have small groups of students contact and interview transportation workers in major transportation centers nearest their community (airport, bus station, ferry port, railroad freight yard or depot, etc.). Then have each group prepare a class presentation.
Tonto National Monument: Saving a National Treasure (125)
"Preservation Debate:" Have students research the history of a preservation controversy in their community. Have two groups debate each other on whether they should favor preservation or development, and as a class vote on their position and explain which side they think presented the best argument.
"The First Inhabitants of Your Community:" Have students study their community to find out who its first inhabitants were and if there are still places associated with them. Have them design a plaque or monument to dedicate this part of their town's history, or have them write papers about how the town preserves and interprets its history.
The Trail of Tears and the Forced Relocation of the Cherokee Nation (118)
"American Indian Treaties in the Community:" Have students locate and identify American Indian tribes that were present at the time of white settlement of their region. Then have them search to see if any treaty agreements between the tribes and the U.S. were made. Have students present their findings to the class for discussion on how their research compares with that of the Cherokee experience. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Two American Entrepreneurs: Madam C.J. Walker and J.C. Penney
"Researching a Local Business:" Have students choose a successful local business to research its founding and operation, and compare the information found with the origins of both the Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company and the J. C. Penney Company. Ask students to think if it is important to preserve buildings associated with these businesses.
Ulysses S. Grant and Julia Dent Grant at White Haven Farm: The Missouri Compromise in American Life (154)
• "Minority Rights and Justice in Grant's era and in yours:" Have small student groups investigate Grant’s political work with minority groups and then investigate the history of minority groups in your students' own community or region. Have them organize their research as a timeline in a computer presentation to show to the rest of the class.
The United States Air Force Academy: Founding a Proud Tradition (114)
"The Cold War Era in the Local Community:" Have students research how their community's response to the Cold War fit into the larger national defense preparedness of the period.
Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site: Monument to the Gilded Age (78)
"Philanthropy in the Local Community:" In small groups, have students select and visit a local organization--museum, hospital, university, library, or social club--that receives substantial philanthropic gifts. Each group should interview someone from the organization and try to find answers to a specific list of questions. Have the groups share their reports with the class and then discuss how their community as a whole benefits from philanthropic gifts.
The Vieux Carré: A Creole Neighborhood in New Orleans (20)
"Cultural Interaction:" Ask students to examine their local community for evidence of diverse cultural groups and ask them to consider what happens when two cultural groups live side by side.
"The Local Community:" Take students on a walking tour of a nearby ethnic neighborhood or commercial area with sketch pads and cameras in order to record architectural details; have students point out differences between their local surroundings and the Vieux Carré.
The War Relocation Centers of World War II: When Fear Was Stronger than Justice (89)
"Lest We Forget:" Have students research whether any group in their community has ever been discriminated against out of fear and, if so, to interview someone who was treated unfairly. Have students write an essay about one of the situations they uncovered and to design a memorial if they think the conflict deserves memorializing.
The Washington Monument: Tribute in Stone (62)
"Local Memorial Study:" Have students, alone or in groups, select a local memorial and identify the person being memorialized, investigate the memorial, photograph or make a drawing of the memorial, and present a report to the class.
Waterford, Virginia: From Mill Town to National Historic Landmark (88)
"Change Over Time in Your Town:" In groups, have students research the origins of their town and the occupational history of it in 1850, 1880, and 1930. Ask each group to share the information it has found in a class presentation that may include graphs and charts, and as a class discuss the changes over time.
Weir Farm: Home of an American Impressionist (22)
"Art in Your Community:" Have students conduct research to discover local artists who depict images of their region’s landscape. Have students make short presentations about the artist or artists studied. Then have the class discuss what is artistically unique about your region and how the artists were inspired by that uniqueness.
Wheat Farms, Flour Mills, and Railroads: A Web of Interdependence (106)
"Change Over Time in the Local Community:" Have students find industries dependent on other industries in their community, and ask them if foreign trade creates a similar kind of interdependence. Have them look for current or former businesses whose success or failure resulted from the growth or decline of another industry, and have them write a paper comparing the development of their community with that of Minneapolis.
When Rice Was King (3)
"Researching Your Community's Economic Origins:" In groups, have students research the economic base of their community, its history, and how and why it has changed or stayed the same over time. Each groups should present their research in short written or oral reports or create displays.
"Researching the Contribution of Different Cultures:" Have students determine what ethnic/religious groups settled in their community. In teams, have students research one of the groups; look for the impact their group has had on the community's food, social customs, architecture, etc.; and report back to the class.
Woodrow Wilson: Prophet of Peace (14)
"The Power of Mankind: Helping Our Communities:" Have students research local relief agencies and present their findings. Compare local issues with those within the international community and look into potential projects in which students might become involved for the betterment of their community.
Wright Brothers National Memorial: Site of the First Controlled Powered Flight (109)
"Honoring Achievements in the Local Community:" Working in groups, have students research a local effort to commemorate an important person or event in their own community. Have students design an exhibit to present their group's findings and post all the exhibits for others to see.
Ybor City: Cigar Capital of the World (51)
"Local Community History:" Divide students into three groups and have one group research the community's origins, one its ethnic groups, and one available educational and recreational opportunities. After students summarize their findings, discuss the similarities and differences between the history of their community and Ybor City.
Lightning Lessons
Discover Colonel Young's Protest Ride for Equality and Country: A Lightning Lesson from Teaching with Historic Places, featuring the historic Colonel Charles Young House (Lightning Lesson 2)
• "Activity 3: Buried But Not Forgotten: WWI History In a Local Cemetery:" Have students visit a local cemetery. Ask students to identify headstones of World War I Veterans. You may want your class to examine the cemetery records. Look to identify any veterans with unmarked graves. Work with the cemetery and the local veterans' services office to get government headstones for the unmarked graves. Your students could also research a local World War I veteran from your community. This could include researching what branch and unit the veteran served in, and then researching the role and responsibilities of the branch and unit.

Discover the Mary Ann Shadd Cary House (Lightning Lesson 1)
• "Preserving Historic Places in your Local Community :" Ask students to identify challenges facing a local historic site and design a plan to overcome those challenges OR develop an interpretive plan for a site. Students should develop a presentation about their plan to share with the class and with policy makers.

(back to top)

Oral History/Interviews


A Field of Dreams: The Jackie Robinson Ballpark (162)
"Players for a Cause,in Your Community:" Have each of your students identify a member of their community or family who worked in one way or another for a moral cause. Provide your students with guidance for conducting an oral history and have them record an interview with the person they identified. Students may want to offer their recordings to a local history organization.
Alaska's Site Summit: Cold War Defense and its Legacy in the North (153)
• "Memories of the Cold War:" Invite a veteran of the Cold War era to speak to the class about his or her military experience. Then, hold a class discussion about the civilian experience during the Cold War and have students interview someone who lived that experience to collect an oral history.
An American Success Story: The Pope House of Raleigh, NC (124)
• "Race Relations in Your Hometown:" Have students research and discuss race relations in their town. Ask them to conduct an interview with a community member who remembers life during the Jim Crow period, and have students submit their recordings either on paper or on tape to the local library or historical society.
Andersonville: Prisoner of War Camp (11)
• "Interview a Former Prisoner of War:" As a class, develop an outline for interview or discussion questions to ask a former prisoner of war (POW). Have students compare their guest's experience with that of the prisoners at Andersonville. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Attu: North American Battleground of World War II (7)
• "Setting the Context:" Arrange for a World War II veteran to come to class and speak about their experiences.
• "War and the Individual:" Encourage students to invite a veteran of a recent military engagement to speak to the class. After the presentation, have students compare the recent military engagement with the WWII battle, and have them write an essay on the role of ordinary soldiers during the crisis of war.
The Battle of Bennington: An American Victory (107)
• "Moments of Heroism:" Ask students to survey older members of the community to identify events in the past that filled residents with pride, and have them create a rough sketch about those events for possible display as an "art gallery" for their school and community.
The Battle of Bentonville: Caring for Casualties of the Civil War (69)
• "In Your Own Community:" Have students interview a member of a mobile military hospital or a local physician, a veteran of foreign wars, or a volunteer, then have them create a case study of that individual and what motivated them to volunteer in extreme circumstances.
The Battle of Prairie Grove: Civilian Recollections of the Civil War (70)
• "Reliability of Historic Sources:" Have students choose an important or controversial event that involved local residents. Have them research the event, record an interview with a relative or neighbor who was involved in some way with this event, and write a report that describes the oral history and evaluates its accuracy.
Birthplace of John F. Kennedy: Home of the Boy Who Would Be President (33)
• "Who am I?:" Ask students to assemble a list of family traditions, important family values, and special family stories, and have them interview family members to provide more information including how these traditions, etc., became an important part of their family history.
Chesterwood: The Workshop of an American Sculptor (100)
• "Sculpture as Work:" Invite an artist or an art teacher to meet with the class, and have students interview the guest to learn about the kinds of skills and work activity required for artists in different media.
Coffeyville, Kansas: The Town That Stopped the Dalton Gang (99)
• "Locally Famous Events in the Community:" Have students talk to older people in their community to determine whether any famous event occurred there. Have them research local newspapers to see how the event was covered, and hold a class discussion about whether the event should be commemorated.
"Comfortable Camps?" Archeology of the Confederate Guard Camp at the Florence Stockade (142)
• "Women in the Civil War:" Have students research and compare the experience of women in the Civil War to women in the military today. Ask the local VFW or American Legion Post to help identify veterans in the community who would let students interview them.
Floyd Bennett Field: Naval Aviation's Home in Brooklyn (120)
• "Oral History Interview:" Ask students to locate and interview either World War II veterans or women who worked in farms, factories or shipyards during the war, and have them donate the interviews and a write up report to a repository. Students may report their findings to the class in an oral form or through written transcription of the interview.
Fiftieth Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act
• "Activity 1, Activity 2:" After students have researched and visited historic places in the community and filled out worksheets, consider asking a representative from a local history organization to come to the class to answer students’ questions.
Growing into Public Service: William Howard Taft's Boyhood Home (15)
• "Leadership Characteristics:" Have students define characteristics associated with leadership. Then identify someone in their community who fits those characteristics and interview that person. Write a profile of the interviewee and submit it to the school or local newspaper.
Guilford Courthouse: A Pivotal Battle in the War for Independence (32)
• "Eyewitness Accounts:" Have students compare what they learned from history texts or newspaper articles with actual eyewitness testimony. Invite an eyewitness of a significant event (e.g. war battles or natural disasters) to speak to the class.
Harry Truman and Independence, Missouri: "This is Where I Belong" (103)
• "Why Preserve Old Buildings?:" Ask students to go out into their neighborhood and document an old building by taking pictures, conduct an interview with someone who lived or worked in the building, or research the structure. Students should share their findings in a class presentation.
Iron Hill School: An African-American One-Room School (58)
• "Collecting Oral Histories:" Have students write a newspaper article about an alumnus of their school that illustrates the differences between a school day then and now. Ask them to list the things they think they might remember and what objects they might save in case someone asks them about their school days.
Ladd Field and the Lend-Lease Mission: Defending Alaska in WWII (146)
• "Veterans of War:" Have students research the impact of war and the military in their own communities and interview veterans, current military members, or those involved in past/current conflicts. Consider taping and transcribing the interviews and offering them to local historic societies or libraries for their collection.
Lafayette Park: First Amendment Rights on the President’s Doorstep (139)
• "First Amendment Rights in the Local Community:" Have students interview their parents or long-time community residents to identify disputes about First Amendment Rights that might have occurred in the local community.
The Liberty Bell: From Obscurity to Icon (36)
• "What do Symbols Tells Us about Ourselves?:" Have students work in pairs and interview each other about the Liberty Bell. Ask students to think of events that have occurred in their lifetimes that might one day become symbolized as important in American history.
Liberty Ships and Victory Ships, America's Lifeline in War (116)
"Serving the War Effort:" Ask students to locate persons in the community or their families who worked in farms, factories and shipyards during World War II. Organize a class project to participate in the Veterans History Project of the Library of Congress by interviewing these persons and donating the interviews.
Life on an Island: Early Settlers Off the Rock-Bound Coast of Maine (16)
• "Living on an Island:" In two groups, have students list the advantages of their way of life on two separate islands, at the end have a spokesperson speak to a “visiting journalist” about their way of life. Have each group research everyday life in the early 1800s for people living in their own community.
Lincoln Home National Historic Site: A Place of Growth and Memory (127)
• "A Visit from a Hometown Politician:" Invite a locally elected official to talk to the class on his or her experience in politics, with students asking questions. Hold a class discussion where students compare the local official and Abraham Lincoln.
Little Kinnakeet Lifesaving Station: Home to Unsung Heroes (57)
• "Today’s Lifesavers:" Arrange for the class to visit a local fire station (or Coast Guard station if possible), and have students prepare a list of questions to ask a member of the rescue team. After the visit, hold a classroom discussion about how modern lifesaving procedures and conditions differ from those encountered by lifesavers of the U.S. Lifesaving Service.
“Making the Desert Bloom”: The Rio Grande Project (141)
• "To Irrigate or Not to Irrigate?:" Divide the students in two groups. Ask one group to study the Rio Grande Project. Ask the other group to investigate farming in the area where they live. A local farmer or someone from their state’s agricultural extension service would be a good source for information and might be willing to come speak to the class and answer questions.
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site: Protecting a Legacy of the Cold War (128)
• "Nuclear and Cold War: A Shadow over the World:" Have students conduct oral histories with their parents or community members who remember the Cold War. After the interviews are completed have students discuss their interviews in class, and possibly have the students donate the oral histories to a local library or historical society.
New Kent School and the George W. Watkins School: From Freedom of Choice to Integration (104)
"Oral Interviews—Preserving a Piece of History:" Have students conduct oral interviews of community or family members who remember the segregation debates from the 1960s. Have students document their accounts and possibly donate them to the local library or historical society.
Remembering Pearl Harbor: The USS Arizona Memorial (18)
• "Survivors of War:" Have students meet in small groups to suggest a list of questions they would like to ask a veteran—of any war. Using a refined list, have students interview a veteran, and when interviews are complete have students compare responses.
The Shields-Ethridge Farm: The End of a Way of Life (145)
• "Our Agrarian Past:" Have students interview people who remember farms in their community before they were developed. Have students offer recordings and transcriptions of the interviews to the local historical society or library.
The Siege of Port Hudson: "Forty Days and Nights in the Wilderness of Death" (71)
"The Hero:" Have students interview local veterans about special acts of bravery they performed or witnessed when they were a soldier, and have them record their interviews and place the results in the local library. Students should write a brief summary of what they learned.
Springwood: Birthplace and Home to Franklin D. Roosevelt (82)
• "Remembering When:" In pairs, have students arrange to conduct an oral history interview with a willing senior citizen who remembers life during the Depression through videotaped interviews, snapshots and a written interview in a newspaper article format, or an audiotape.
Thaw in the Cold War: Eisenhower and Khrushchev at Gettysburg (29)
• "Preparing for Nuclear War:" Have students interview someone who lived in their community or area in the 1950s and ask how they prepared for the possibility of nuclear war. Then ask students to find out if any physical evidence of the Cold War remains in their area such as fallout shelters or air raid sirens.
Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site: Birthplace of the Modern Presidency (77)
• "Where Were You on the Day?:" Ask students to interview a person who remembers each of these events: (1) the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, (2) the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, (3) the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, (4) the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986, and (5) any major event that occurred in their community. Have students compile notes from their interviews and ask them to share what they have learned.
Thomas Jefferson's Plan for the University of Virginia: Lessons from the Lawn (92)
• "Education though the Generations:" Have students interview their parents about the school(s) they attended when they were the students' age. Compare the information gathered with the information about their own school and present their findings with an exhibit, computer slide show, oral presentation, or written report.
Thurmond: A Town Born from Coal Mines and Railroads (28)
"Transportation Then and Now:" Have small groups of students contact and interview transportation workers in major transportation centers nearest their community. Each group should present their findings to the class.
The United States Air Force Academy: Founding a Proud Tradition (114)
• "The Cold War Era in the Local Community:" Ask students to interview residents who lived in their community during the early Cold War era (late 1940s-1950s). Students should present their findings in an oral report and participate in a class discussion comparing the various experiences of the interviewees.
The War Relocation Centers of World War II: When Fear Was Stronger than Justice (89)
• "Lest We Forget:" Have the class study the treatment of groups that were considered “enemy aliens,” and compare the treatment of these groups with the Japanese American experience in World War II. Students should find out if their community has ever treated people unfairly out of fear, and write an essay about that situations or interview someone who experience such an event.
When Rice Was King (3)
• "Interviewing Plantation Residents:" In groups of three, have one student pretend to be a newspaper reporter from a northern city interviewing people living on a plantation, and the other two students act as children living on the plantation. As a class discuss if the students came up with similar kinds of details.
A Woman's Place Is In the Sewall-Belmont House: Alice Paul and Women's Rights (148)
• "The 20th Century Woman:" Have each student record an oral history interview with a female family friend or relative. Afterward, students can create a class oral history book about the experiences they preserved; develop a poster exhibit and submit their recordings to a local historical society, museum, or library for a service learning project; and analyze the oral histories as primary sources.

(back to top)

Oral Reports

Arthurdale: A New Deal Community Experiment (157)
• "Discover the New Deal Homesteads:" Have students research New Deal homestead communities throughout the country. They will write a research paper about that homestead, describing what it was like in the 1930s and what remains of it today. Afterward, have each student present orally about how his or her community compares to Arthurdale.
At a Crossroads: The King of Prussia Inn (119)
"Community Research:" Have students research a historic inn, hotel, or tavern in their community, or have them research a modern local hotel. Students should give a brief oral or written report on their findings.
Attu: North American Battleground of World War II (7)
"Setting the Context:" Have students research the Battle of Attu more fully and make a report to the class, examine the entire war in the Pacific to better understand the role the Battle of Attu played in the full campaign, or arrange for a World War II veteran to come to class and speak about their experiences.
The Battle of Honey Springs: The Civil War Comes to the Indian Territory (68)
"Working Together Across Ethnic Lines:" Have students consider their communities and whether there are examples in which distinct groups previously at odds banded together to meet a common goal. After this discussion, assign a skit or a written or oral report where students further study and learn about their example.
The Battle of Oriskany: "Blood Shed a Stream Running Down" (79)
"Where Do I stand:" Have each student select a historical person who participated in the Battle of Oriskany and create a written or oral report in the character of that person about the experience.
The Battle of Prairie Grove: Civilian Recollections of the Civil War (70)
"Modern Civil Wars:" Have students identify a current civil war and find several stories in papers, magazines, or on television that show how this war has affected civilians. Have students compare this conflict with the Civil War and present this information in a written report or orally to the class.
Birthplace of John F. Kennedy: Home of the Boy Who Would Be President (33)
"Why Do We Remember JFK?:" Divide the class into groups to investigate four important issues of President Kennedy's administration: the space program, civil rights, the Peace Corps, and the nuclear arms race. Assign each student to find a recent newspaper article dealing with one of the issues to share with the class.
Building America's Industrial Revolution: The Boott Cotton Mills of Lowell, MA (21)
"Role Play:" Have students—assuming the roles of local farmers and villagers—make short speeches as they act out a town meeting. Follow with a discussion of what would happen to their current ways of life if their neighborhoods suddenly underwent rapid and dramatic changes.
The Carlisle Indian Industrial School: Assimilation with Education after the Indian Wars (163)
• "Historic American Indian Boarding Schools Beyond Carlisle:" Assign to small groups or each student one historic, off-reservation school for a research project and report. The report you assign can take the form of an essay, research paper, skit, oral presentation, or poster presentation depending on time, resources, and ability.
• "Explore Disease at Carlisle with Science and Empathy:" Have students give a 2-3 minute oral presentation to the class with their findings and ideas behind their artwork. Wrap up the presentations with a brief discussion about the spread of disease at Carlisle. Have your students comment on ways a student might have been infected in a classroom or crowded dormitory at the school. Ask them how the spread of disease may have been prevented.
• "Preserving the American Indian Past, Present, and Future:" Have students present what they learn in an essay, oral presentation, or short video that they can play for the whole class. They should also submit an annotated bibliography that lists their internet sources and explains why each is a trustworthy source of information.
Carnegie Libraries: The Future Made Bright (50)
"Additional Research on Carnegie:" In groups, have students decide whether Andrew Carnegie lived up to his words on the responsibility of rich men. Each group should give their report to the entire class and follow with a class discussion.
Choices and Commitments: The Soldiers of Gettysburg (44)
"Persuasive Writing and Speaking:" Ask students to think of a problem or controversial issue facing their community and write a persuasive speech that will energize people to work toward finding a solution. The class should discuss their speeches. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Clara Barton's House: Home of the American Red Cross (27)
"Researching the Life of Clara Barton:" Have students research the life of Clara Barton and have them present the results in oral or written reports or in panel discussions.
Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park: Where the Wright Brothers Conquered the Air (111)
"The Roots of Invention:" Have students research and give an oral report on an invention that has some root in an existing invention or device. Have each student think creatively to develop their own invention with detailed drawings or a model and make a presentation to "sell" the idea to the class.
Decatur House: A Home of the Rich and Powerful (19)
"Conflict Resolution:" In two groups, the class should hold a debate defending the actions of either Stephen Decatur or James Barron that led to their fateful duel. Have students discuss and set up an oral argument defending the position of either man in debate format.
The Emerald Necklace: Boston's Green Connection (86)
"Plan Your Own Greenway:" Have students look at modern and historical maps of their community to compare the type of information each map contains. Have students, in groups, pretend to represent a landscape architecture firm creating a proposal to design and build a park and then present their proposal to the class to make the case for why their design should be implemented.
Enduring Awatovi: Uncovering Hopi Life and Work on the Mesa (156)
• "Two Views on Awatovi:" Have two student groups consider Hopi and anthropologist perspectives on Awatovi by developing questions and interviewing experts. Have the groups present and each student talk about their findings. Hold a class discussion to compare and contrast the two presentations.
Federal Courthouses and Post Offices: Symbols of Pride and Permanence in American Communities (97)
• "Government Buildings in the Local Community:" Have students work in small groups to identify and conduct research on a courthouse, post office, or other government building in the area. Ask them to investigate the history of the building, its impact on the community when it was built, and the role it plays today. Have them incorporate what they have learned into a poster or exhibit for display at a local library or historical society.
Fiftieth Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act
"Activity 1:" Divide the class in two groups and ask one research the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and the other research the National Register of Historic Places. Ask each group to give an oral report the other half of the class about who created their document, when, and for what purpose, and what each says about the importance of preserving historic places.
The Freeman School: Building Prairie Communities (80)
"How Did My Town Grow:" Ask students to find out which school in their city is the oldest and research it to recreate its history. Ask students to share their findings through oral, written, display, or computer slide-show presentations.
From Canterbury to Little Rock: The Struggle for Educational Equality for African Americans
"The History of Public Education in the Local Community:" Have students work in groups to research the history of public education in their community and have them prepare a report/presentation. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Glen Echo Park: Center for Education and Recreation (24)
"Recreation and Segregation:" Have students research the history of their community to see what groups faced prejudice in the past and those who are facing it today. After they completed their research, have them present their findings to the class and discuss what they could do to promote more interaction in the community.
Glorieta and Raton Passes: Gateways to the Southwest (117)
"Close to Home:" In groups, have students prepare a written or oral report on their community's role in the westward movement. Groups should find out if there are places in their community that relate to this period, such as roadways, farms, buildings, or memorials.
"The Great Chief Justice" at Home (49)
"Historic Sites in the Local Community:" Have students research a historic site in their community associated with an important figure and prepare a written report. Have them read their reports aloud and participate in a classroom discussion on whether they feel it is important to preserve historic sites that are associated with important persons of the past.
Harry Truman and Independence, Missouri: "This is Where I Belong" (103)
"Why Preserve Old Buildings?:" Ask students to go out into their neighborhood and document an old building by taking pictures, conduct an interview with someone who lived or worked in the building, or research the structure. Students should share their findings in a class presentation.
Iolani Palace: A Hawaiian Place of History, Power, and Prestige (161)
• "Extra! Extra! Exploring 19th Century Annexation Op-Eds:" Have your students analyze late 19th century news articles about the United States' annexation of foreign lands, to identify the arguments for and against annexation of a single place or related to expansionism broadly. Students will choose one or two articles and prepare an oral presentation on each article's position, audience, and the evidence/ logic the authors use to support their arguments.
Johnson Lake Mine: Mining for Tungsten in Nevada's Snake Range (110)
"The Archeological Record:" Have each student pick one or several objects they think will be crucial for future archeologists to understand our society. Have the student make a class presentation explaining why they chose what they did.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition: Documenting the Uncharted Northwest (108)
"The Legacy of Lewis and Clark, The Power of the Pen:" In groups, have students present their findings on the impact of the Lewis and Clark expedition in an oral report to their classmates. In groups of three or four, students should observe their environment and talk in depth about their observations.
Liberty Ships and Victory Ships, America's Lifeline in War (116)
"Carrying the Supplies:" Ask students to locate farms or factories in their community that supplied the war effort, and have them research how they supported the war. Students should share the information they have discovered in the form of papers, project boards, computer slide shows, skits, or oral presentations.
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial: Forging Greatness during Lincoln's Youth (126)
"Important Figures in Your Local Community:" Have students research an important figure in their community, preferably one associated with a historic site. Following the research, students will prepare a presentation including visuals on the subject.
“Making the Desert Bloom”: The Rio Grande Project (141)
• "To Irrigate or Not to Irrigate?:" Divide the students in two groups. Ask one group to study the Rio Grande Project. Ask the other group to investigate farming in the area where they live. What is the climate like in each area? What is the annual rainfall? What crops are grown? Do local farmers use irrigation? If so, why? If not, why not? Ask each group to make a presentation to the class.
The M'Clintock House: A Home to the Women's Rights Movement (76)
"Women's Rights in Your Area:" Have students use old newspapers, information from the local historical society, and other sources to research an important event in their community that reflected the battle over women's rights. Have students present their findings in a paper, an oral report, or another format that effectively tells their audience what happened and why.
Mechanics Hall: Symbol of Pride and Industry (87)
"Local Research:" Ask students to investigate the area they live in and compile a list of historic structures or sites. Have students, in teams, select one site and research it. The report may take the form of a written essay, an oral presentation or skit, a poster, or computer display.
The No. 2 Quincy Shaft-Rockhouse: 9,240 Feet into the Earth (152)
• "Mining in the U.S.A.:" Have students conduct independent investigations into a historic mining operation where people extracted coal, oil, or precious metals. Have students organize their findings individually in oral presentations or research papers, or create a class website together.
Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site: Home of a Gilded Age Icon (48)
"Meet the Cornish Colony:" Have students research and write a short biography about a person who came to live at the Cornish Colony and read aloud to the class.
"Exploring the Artist’s World:" Have students research the life of Saint-Gaudens, the Cornish Colony, or American sculpture in general and prepare an oral report.
Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Separate But Equal? South Carolina's Fight Over School Segregation (158)
• "Massive Resistance in the South:" Have small groups each study the ways Americans in a southern state organized to resist federal laws, rulings, and mandates that were aimed at ending segregation and then have the groups present their findings to the class.
Thomas Jefferson's Plan for the University of Virginia: Lessons from the Lawn (92)
"Local Schools:" In small groups, have students research the history of their school. Ask students to share their findings in a written report, oral presentation, computer slide-show, model, or exhibit.
"Education through the Generations:" Have students interview their parents about the school(s) they attended when they were the students' age and compare the information gathered with the information about their own school. Students should present their findings with an exhibit, computer slide show, oral presentation, or written report.
Thomas P. Kennard House: Building a Prairie Capital (149)
• "Breaking news in the territory:" Have each student research and write a newspaper article as if they were a reporter in a western territory at the time the territory gained statehood and then give an oral report to the class about that state.
Tonto National Monument: Saving a National Treasure (125)
"Preservation Debate:" Have students reach the history of a preservation controversy in their community. Have two groups debate each other on whether they should favor preservation or development and then have the class vote on their position and explain which side they think presented the best argument.
The Trail of Tears and the Forced Relocation of the Cherokee Nation (118)
"American Indian Relocation:" Have four groups of students research one of the following tribes: Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole. Each group should either compare their tribe with that of the Cherokee and present a report to the class or create an exhibit for their school and community. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
The United States Air Force Academy: Founding a Proud Tradition (114)
"The Cold War Era in the Local Community:" Ask students to interview residents who lived in their community during the early Cold War era (late 1940s-1950s). Students should present their findings in an oral report and participate in a class discussion comparing the various experiences of the interviewees.
The Washington Monument: Tribute in Stone (62)
"Local Memorial Study:" Have students, alone or in groups, select a local memorial, identify the person being memorialized, investigate the memorial, photograph or make a drawing of the memorial, and present a report to the class.
Waterford, Virginia: From Mill Town to National Historic Landmark (88)
"Change Over Time in Your Town:" In groups, have students research the origins of their town and the occupational history of it in 1850, 1880, and 1930. Ask each group to share the information it has found in a class presentation which may include graphs and charts, and as a class discuss the changes from 1850 to 1880, then to 1930, and finally to the present.
When Rice Was King (3)
"Researching Your Community's Economic Origins:" In groups, have students research the economic base of their community when it was established and what it is today, with them explaining how and why it has changed or stayed the same. Each group should present their research in short written or oral reports or create displays.
A Woman's Place Is In the Sewall-Belmont House: Alice Paul and Women's Rights (148)
• "Organizing for Reform:" Break students up into small groups and then assign each group an historic organization that supported women’s suffrage. Students will research the group, create a slideshow presentation, and then present their findings in an oral report with the slideshow.
Woodrow Wilson: Prophet of Peace (14)
"Public Speaking:" Using Wilson's radio address as a model, ask groups of students to write and present a brief radio address that will persuade the nation to return to the ideal of world peace. Have one member of each group present the talk to the class, and have the class discuss the points made in the speeches.
"Partisan Political Cartoons:" Have students draw their own political cartoons relating to the debate over the League of Nations or over a current issue relating to peace. Have students present their works to the class and explain how they represented the personalities and points of view involved.
Wright Brothers National Memorial: Site of the First Controlled Powered Flight (109)
"The Impact of Airplanes:" In groups, have students research the role airplanes had in World War I, World War II, Commerce and Industry, or Passenger Transportation during the first half of the 20th century. Each group should present their findings in an oral or written report and discuss the worldwide impact of the Wright brothers' accomplishments.
Lightning Lessons
Discover Colonel Young's Protest Ride for Equality and Country: A Lightning Lesson from Teaching with Historic Places, featuring the historic Colonel Charles Young House (Lightning Lesson 2)
• "The First Draft of History: News Reporting and the Historian’s Challenge:" Ask the students to theorize why the accounts are different, using examples from their classroom work and personal experiences, and how assumptions made in news reporting might affect the work of historians. Ask them to give an example of how a historian might solve problems with using news articles to study history.With their articles and study, students can write a one-page analysis to answer these questions or give a short oral presentation to the class.

Discover the Mary Ann Shadd Cary House (Lightning Lesson 1)
• "Preserving Historic Places in your Local Community :" Ask students to identify challenges facing a local historic site and design a plan to overcome those challenges OR develop an interpretive plan for a site. Students should develop a presentation about their plan to share with the class and with policy makers.

(back to top)

 

Persuasive Writing and Speaking


Alaska's Site Summit: Cold War Defense and its Legacy in the North (153)
• "Competing Ideologies:" Have students take the Soviet or the United States’ side in the Cold War ideological debate, research their topic, and then write a persuasive essay imagining that the audience is a neutral nation. Hold a formal class debate if time permits.
The Battle of Horseshoe Bend: Collision of Cultures (54)
• "Cultural Conflict:" In different groups, have students discuss if battles like Horseshoe Bend are inevitable by researching a current world conflict and writing a short position paper.
The Battle of Mill Springs: The Civil War Divides a Border State (72)
• "Choosing Sides:" Have students create a Civil War-era character for themselves, and then have each write a short speech in which they explain who they are, which side they will support, and why.
Back Stairs at Brucemore: Life as Servants in early 20th-Century America (105)
• "Factory Work vs. Domestic Service:" Have students discuss whether housework was preferable to factory work based on what students learned about women’s work opportunities in the early 20th century.
Californio to American: A Study in Cultural Change (8)
• "Determining National Register Eligibility:" Ask students to discuss whether they agree that Rancho Los Alamitos has enough historical importance to be included in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) based on the requirements for inclusion on the Register.
• "Locating Significant Local Properties:" Have students examine a property in their own community that is listed on the National Register or that students believe should be listed. Have them discuss which areas of significance they would use if they were preparing a nomination for that property, and how they would justify their decisions.
Camp Misty Mount: A Place for Regrowth (47)
• "Recreation and Conservation:" Have students write letters to public officials praising contributions, or appealing for conservation of local natural places.
Carnegie Libraries: The Future Made Bright (50)
• "Famous Philanthropists:" Have some students assume the identity of one of the great American philanthropists of the Carnegie period and other students assume the role of journalists. Have a public forum or press conference in which each of the famous figures tries to show why he, not Carnegie, was America’s greatest philanthropist.
Chattanooga, Tennessee: Train Town (52)
• "The Roles of Geography and Promotion:" Have each student write a paragraph on whether man or nature was more important in the Chattanooga’s growth. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Chesterwood: The Workshop of an American Sculptor (100)
• "Sculpture as Work:" Have students speculate on why most people think "inspiration" is more important than "perspiration" in the creation of works of art. Do they agree or disagree with that position?
Chicago's Columbus Park: The Prairie Idealized (81)
• "Green Scene:" Have students present the reasons why their park or garden design should be funded and implemented to the appropriate school, parks, town, or city officials.
Choices and Commitments: The Soldiers of Gettysburg (44)
• "Persuasive Writing and Speaking:" Ask students to think of a problem or controversial issue facing their community and write a persuasive speech that will energize people to work toward finding a solution. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Clara Barton's House: Home of the American Red Cross (27)
• "Women’s and Men’s Work:" Have students write an editorial to the local newspaper expressing their views on equality.
Decatur House: A Home of the Rich and Powerful (19)
• "Access to Power:" Have students choose a current issue or proposal they wish to express an opinion about to their state governor, and have students express their support or disapproval of the proposal by petition, letter, fax, E-mail, telephone, or the news media. Students should consider and discuss if a personal visit would be more effective.
Digging into the Colonial Past: Archeology and the 16th-Century Spanish Settlements at Charlesfort-Santa Elena (155)
•"Creating a Historical Argument: " Individually or in small groups, have students use historical evidence to argue which settlement in North America should be considered the first. Students can present their work using persuasive essay, a debate, an oral presentation, or a poster board presentation.
“The Electric Project”: The Minidoka Dam and Powerplant (160)
• “How do you get your electricity?:” Have students work in groups to investigate power plants and stations in their community. Some of these facilities may be impressive structures that were sources of great local pride when they were first created. Ask the students to consider nominating these historic places to state or national registers.
Embattled Farmers and the Shot Heard Round The World: The Battles of Lexington and Concord (150)
"Local Commemoration:" Have small student groups design a memorial to an important local figure and then give persuasive speeches to win the class’s vote for best memorial. The class will then take the winner’s design, polish it, and then present the idea to local government as a service learning project.
Fort Hancock: A Bastion of America's Eastern Seaboard (37)
• "Continued Evolution of Defenses:" Have students review Reading 2. Then have them decide which of the two Congressmen they agree with and write a short essay in which they explain why. Make sure they discuss alternatives to defense spending.
"The Great Chief Justice" at Home (49)
• "Historic Sites in the Local Community:" Have students participate in a classroom discussion on whether they feel it is important to preserve historic sites that are associated with important persons of the past.
Guilford Courthouse: A Pivotal Battle in the War for Independence (32)
• "War and Public Opinion:" Have students discuss whether public opinion was considered as important in 18th-century Great Britain as it is in modern United States. Ask them to justify their answer. Have students write an essay explaining their point of view.
Knife River: Early Village Life on the Plains (1)
• "Making Comparisons:" Divide the students into two groups, with one group representing the migratory Plains Indians and the other representing the villagers. Have each group list why theirs is the best way of life, and then ask a representative from each to present these arguments. Ask the class to vote on which group's presentation was the most effective in content and reasoning.
Lafayette Park: First Amendment Rights on the President’s Doorstep (139)
"First Amendment Rights:" Ask groups of students to hold mock trials based on important Supreme Court decisions on First Amendment rights. Ask the students to defend the arguments presented by both sides. At the end of the mock trials, have the class decide whether they agreed or disagreed with the Supreme Court's decisions in the cases;
The Liberty Bell: From Obscurity to Icon (36)
"Why is the Crack in the Liberty Bell So Important?:" Have students write a position paper on the statement: "The crack in the Liberty Bell is a necessary component to its importance as a symbol to Americans and people from other nations."
Lincoln Home National Historic Site: A Place of Growth and Memory (127)
• "A Newspaper Account:" Have students work in teams to write newspaper articles in support of Lincoln, while others write counter positions about one of the following stories: Lincoln’s “House Divided” speech (1858), Lincoln’s Republican Party Presidential nomination (1860), the election of Abraham Lincoln (1860), Lincoln’s farewell from Springfield (1861), or Lincoln’s funeral (1865).
“Making the Desert Bloom”: The Rio Grande Project (141)
• "Where Does Your Water Come From? :" Have students work in groups to investigate the water system in their community. If they discover risks or maintenance problems that need to be corrected, they may want to consider writing a letter to the responsible person or organization asking why the necessary work has not been completed or when it is scheduled to be done. If no plans to address these needs exist, the class might consider writing to the local newspaper about the issue.
Memories of Montpelier: Home of James and Dolley Madison (46)
• "Slavery and Freedom:" In a classroom discussion, have students put themselves into the mindset of James Madison to try to justify the institution of slavery as they believe he would have done. Also have students explain slavery from the point of view of Paul Jennings, a slave of the Madisons’ and later a free man. Then have students discuss the concepts of justice and fairness during different historical time periods.
A Nation Repays Its Debt: The National Soldiers' Home and Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio (115)
• "Explore Your Community for Memorials:" Have students prepare a letter to the city or local historical society asking them for help in preserving the local memorial.
The Octagon of Washington, D.C.: The House that Helped Build a Capital (151)
"Capital Decision: An informal debate:" Have the class discuss regional tensions in the United States that led to the debate over where to establish the U.S. capital city. Then, have students break into small groups of 3-4. Have each student choose one side, research his or her position, debate within his or her group, and submit a short persuasive essay summarizing his or her arguments.
The Penniman House: A Whaling Story (112)
• "Preserving the Night Sky:" Have students compare what is on a sky chart with what they can see on a clear night outside their homes. Have them discuss whether preserving the night sky is important and brainstorm suggestions that could help decrease sky glow in their community. Have them consider using their list to draft a letter to the city or county with their suggestions.
The Rosenwald Schools: Progressive Era Philanthropy in the Segregated South (159)
• “Apply for a Rosenwald School!” Have small groups research how communities applied for Rosenwald Schools. Next, have each group write and read aloud a persuasive letter to an imaginary school board, as if each group represented an African American community applying for the board’s support to help build a Rosenwald School.
The Siege and Battle of Corinth: A New Kind of War (113)
"How to Fight a Battle:" Hold a class discussion asking students to imagine that they are advisors to General Van Dorn as he moves towards Corinth. Based on what they have learned in this lesson, what advantages might mobility and surprise or siege have? What disadvantages?
Thomas P. Kennard House: Building a Prairie Capital (149)
• "City Planning: Design a state capital:" Have students study an early map of your state’s capital city. Have them use what they learn from it to design their own state capital and then give a persuasive speech about why their design would make a good capital city.
A Woman's Place Is In the Sewall-Belmont House: Alice Paul and Women's Rights (148)
• "Beyond the Voting Booth:" Invite a local government official to visit your class and speak to students about civic engagement. Have each student choose a political issue to research, engage with outside of school, and then write a persuasive letter to a politician who they think can help them.
Woodrow Wilson: Prophet of Peace (14)
• "Public Speaking:" Using Wilson's radio address as a model, ask groups of students to write and present a brief radio address that will persuade the nation to return to the ideal of world peace. Have one member of each group present the talk to the class, and have the class discuss the points made in the speeches.

Lightning Lessons

Discover the Mary Ann Shadd Cary House (Lightning Lesson 1)
• "From the Newspaper to the Podium :" Have students identify an injustice and then write a persuasive essay to inspire members of the student body to unite against the injustice. Next, ask students to prepare a short speech based on their essays. Finally, display your students’ essays as if they were 19th century editorial broadsides.
Discover the Solar Eclipse of 1900 in Historic Wadesboro, NC (Lightning Lesson 4)
• "Get involved! Light Pollution and Night Skies in Your Community:" Students will study light pollution in their region and then write a persuasive essay, aimed to sway the reader to support policies that will improve night skies. Turn the lesson into civic action by having students sign their essays and mail them to a local elected official.

(back to top)

Photography/Videography/Computers


The Battle of Oriskany: "Blood Shed a Stream Running Down" (79)
• "In the Grip of Fear:" Have students produce a written, pictorial, or video report describing a controversial issue that has divided their community, and have them compare that issue with the Mohawk Valley civil war, U.S. Civil War, or civil wars on the international scene.
The Carlisle Indian Industrial School: Assimilation with Education after the Indian Wars (163)

• "Preserving the American Indian Past, Present, and Future:" Have students present what they learn in an essay, oral presentation, or short video that they can play for the whole class. They should also submit an annotated bibliography that lists their internet sources and explains why each is a trustworthy source of information.

Chesterwood: The Workshop of an American Sculptor (100)
• "Public Art in the Community:" Ask students to choose an example of three-dimensional art in their town to study, and have them research when the work was created; students should photograph or make a sketch of the work to show to the class.
Enduring Awatovi: Uncovering Hopi Life and Work on the Mesa (156)
• "Documenting Historic Agriculture in Your Community:" Have small groups study a local historic farm to research agriculture in your community. This activity has two options: investigate the historic farm through research only OR investigate and document via photography the historic farm during a field trip. Students will present their findings on poster boards. For the second option, students can create a digital gallery or printed photo exhibit.
Federal Courthouses and Post Offices: Symbols of Pride and Permanence in American Communities (97)
• "Government Buildings in the Local Community:" Have small groups conduct research on a federal, state, or county building. Direct each group to prepare a visual representation that describes the building itself, its use over time, and how the building functions in the community. If possible, have the groups include photographs of the community at the time the government building was erected.
Fiftieth Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act
• "Activity 1, Activity 2:" Divide students into groups and ask each group to select a place from their community that is listed in the National Register of Historic Places or one that they think should be listed. Ask them to visit the site, take photographs, and complete an Observation Worksheet. If the place is not listed, have students look for information in the local library or historical society. After they have completed their research, hold a class discussion about the benefits of historic preservation to the community. Have them share their findings with the PTA or a local historical organization in a PowerPoint presentation, a community walking tour, exhibits, or a website.
Forts of Old San Juan: Guardians of the Caribbean (60)
• "Photographing History:" Have students, either working alone or as part of a group, prepare a photo essay that tells the story of an important historic site in their community.
The Freeman School: Building Prairie Communities (80)
• "How Did My Town Grown?:" Ask students to find out which school in their city is the oldest and research it to recreate its history; ask students to share their findings through oral, written, display, or computer slide-show presentations.
Harry Truman and Independence, Missouri: "This is Where I Belong" (103)
• "Why Preserve Old Buildings?:" Ask students to go out into their neighborhood and document an old building by taking pictures, conduct an interview with someone who lived or worked in the building, or research the structure. Students should share their findings in a class presentation.
Iolani Palace: A Hawaiian Place of History, Power, and Prestige (161)
• "Whose Destiny? Study the effects of American expansion on indigenous cultures:" Break your students into small groups and assign each group a different U.S. territory as the subject for a group report. The report will focus on the people who preceded the U.S. settlers and explain what happened to the group after U.S. acquisition. Students can present their report as a short film, limited podcast series, or as a blog.
Lafayette Park: First Amendment Rights on the President’s Doorstep (139)
• "Following in the Women's Footsteps:" Ask students to study a White House Historical Association website that discusses a variety of protests at the White House. Assign small groups to learn more about each of the protests on the website and to compare them with the women's suffrage campaign.
Liberty Ships and Victory Ships, America's Lifeline in War (116)
• "Carrying the Supplies:" Ask students to locate farms or factories in their community that supplied the war effort, and have them research how they supported the war. Students should share the information they have discovered in the form of papers, project boards, computer slide shows, skits, or oral presentations.
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial: Where Man and Memory Intersect (144)
“Local Memorial Study:” Have students, individually or in groups, select a memorial to research using primary sources. The students should visit the memorial and either take a photograph or make a drawing to share with the class.
Mechanics Hall: Symbol of Pride and Industry (87)
• "Local Research:" Ask students to investigate the area they live in and compile a list of historic structures or sites, and in teams, have students select one site and research it. The report may take the form of a written essay, an oral presentation or skit, a poster, or computer display.
The No. 2 Quincy Shaft-Rockhouse: 9,240 Feet into the Earth (152)
• "Mining in the U.S.A.:" Have students conduct independent investigations into historic mining operations where people extracted coal, oil, or precious metals. Have students organize their findings individually in oral presentations or research papers, or create a class website together.
The Old Mormon Fort: Birthplace of Las Vegas, Nevada (122)
• "Your Town’s Birth:" Divide students into teams and have them research their community for evidence of how their town started and if any sites from that time still exist. If any still exist, have students take a picture or draw a picture of those sites that will accompany a written history of their community.
The Penniman House: A Whaling Story (112)
• "The Penniman House Revisited:" Have students look at their own homes and buildings in the community for similar architectural details to those on the Penniman House. If possible, ask them to take pictures and create a display for the classroom.
The Rockets' Red Glare": Francis Scott Key and the Bombardment of Fort McHenry (137)
• "Places That Define the Community:" Students may want to consider creating an on-line travel itinerary based on the historic places they have identified. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site: Home of a Gilded Age Icon (48)
• "Local Wonders:" Have students identify and research monuments in their own community (students should visit and photograph the monument); students should compare the imagery, style, and power to evoke emotion, realism, or symbolism with the type employed by Saint-Gaudens. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Springwood: Birthplace and Home to Franklin D. Roosevelt (82)
• "Lifestyles:" In groups, have students research an aspect of life in the late 19th century—comparing it with contemporary life; students may present their findings through drawings or photographs, written reports, skits involving objects or costumes, charts, computer slide-shows, or other means.
• "Remembering When:" In pairs, have students arrange to conduct an oral history interview with a willing senior citizen who remembers life during the Depression through videotaped interviews, snapshots and a written interview in a newspaper article format, or an audiotape.
Thomas Jefferson's Plan for the University of Virginia: Lessons from the Lawn (92)
• "Local Schools:" In small groups, have students research the history of their school; ask students to share their findings in a written report, oral presentation, computer slide-show, model, or exhibit.
• "Education through the Generations:" Have students interview their parents about the school(s) they attended when they were the students' age, compare the information gathered with the information about their own school, and present their findings with an exhibit, computer slide show, oral presentation, or written report.
Thomas P. Kennard House: Building a Prairie Capital (149)
• "Local history on the Web:" Split the class up into small groups and have each group research an aspect of your town or county’s history. Have students create a blog or website about their local history to publish their discoveries online.
The Vieux Carré: A Creole Neighborhood in New Orleans (20)
• "The Local Community:" Take students on a walking tour of a nearby ethnic neighborhood or commercial area with sketch pads and cameras in order to record architectural details. Have students point out differences between their local surroundings and the Vieux Carré.
The Washington Monument: Tribute in Stone (62)
• "Local Memorial Study:" Have students, alone or in groups, select a local memorial and identify the person being memorialized, investigate the memorial, photograph or make a drawing of the memorial, and present a report to the class.

Lightning Lessons


Discover the African Burial Ground National Monument (Lightning Lesson 3)
• "Investigating Local and Regional History through Archeology:" Through internet research and contacting local history experts, students will investigate a historic place in their own region where people marked the space with religious or other cultural symbols. They will each design a poster display to explain the who, where, what, and why of the historic site and the meaning of the symbols found there.

(back to top)

Primary Source Analysis


At a Crossroads: The King of Prussia Inn (119)
• "Interpreting Artifacts:" Have students bring to class an item (preferably an antique) that their peers would not immediately recognize. Each student should come prepared with information about what the item is, what it was used for, and how old it is. In class, ask students to examine each object and use their knowledge of history to figure out what the object is, what it was used for, and how old it might be. Then the student who brought the object should reveal what they know. Was the group able to figure out what the object was? If so, how? If not, what other information might they have needed to obtain answers? The object of this activity is to determine how difficult it is to understand an object out of context and without sources, which is what an archeologist many times has to do.
The Battle of Stones River: The Soldiers' Story (40)
• "Working with Primary Sources:" Have students make a list of the primary sources used in this lesson and ask each student choose one primary source. Have students complete an analysis of their sources that identifies the author and the author’s point of view; why, when, and for what purpose each was created; why it is considered a primary source; how reliable the source is likely to be; and other information. Have students share their conclusions with their classmates, especially with those who worked with the same evidence. Did they reach the same conclusions?
The Carlisle Indian Industrial School: Assimilation with Education after the Indian Wars (163)

• "Historic American Indian Boarding Schools Beyond Carlisle:" The students should end their report with examples of how their school was similar to and different from Carlisle. They should use at least one primary source as evidence and at least one source created by a Native American who wrote about the school and/or graduated from it.

Digging into the Colonial Past: Archeology and the 16th-Century Spanish Settlements at Charlesfort-Santa Elena (155)
•"Artifact Analysis:" Have students create an artifact portfolio using online collections and/or digital exhibits. For each artifact, have students write a paragraph about what the artifact might reveal about the era and society in which it was created, who might have owned it, how it was used, and the place it was found.
"Local History, Local Treasures:" Divide your class into groups and assign each group a time period or era that is part of your community's heritage. Have them present their narrative on a poster board and have them highlight the artifacts they believe help people today understand the era.
“The Electric Project”: The Minidoka Dam and Powerplant (160)
• “Public vs. Private Power:” Have students write an essay that compares and contrasts the Minidoka Project to the Boulder Canyon Project. Essays should include a short discussion about the early 20th century debate over private vs. public utilities.
The Emerald Necklace: Boston's Green Connection (86)
• "Plan Your Own Greenway:" Have students examine a current street map of your area, copies or scans of historical maps (from a local historical society), topographical maps, and zoning maps (from the city/county planning commission or survey office) to compare and contrast the kind of information each contains.
Enduring Awatovi: Uncovering Hopi Life and Work on the Mesa (156)
• "Documenting Historic Agriculture in Your Community:" Have small groups study a local historic farm to research agriculture in your community. This activity has two options: investigate the historic farm through research only OR investigate and document via photography the historic farm during a field trip. Students will present their findings on poster boards. For the second option, students can create a digital gallery or printed photo exhibit.
• "Illustrating Hopi Methods of Farming:" Have each student design and develop an art project that illustrates one method of Hopi farming. This project can take shape as a drawing, painting, diorama, sculpture, etc. Students will research this method to create their artwork, and will also submit a paragraph describing what they created and on what evidence they based their artwork.
Fiftieth Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act
• "Activity 1:" Divide the class into small groups and give each group a copy of a National Register of Historic Places nomination form for a historic property in their community. After they have read the information, ask them to visit the places they are investigating and fill out an Observation Worksheet with information they can obtain from the physical characteristics of the place itself.
• "Activity 2:" Lead a brainstorming exercise to identify older places that help make the students’ community unique and may be historically important. Divide the class into small groups or ask students individually to visit one of the places they have identified. Ask students to fill out the Observation Worksheet for this place. Have students go online to the National Register of Historic Places website to research Criteria for Evaluation and to learn whether their places are already listed. If they are not listed, ask students to conduct research at the local library and/or historical society and write short paragraphs describing the places and explaining why it does or does not meet National Register Criteria.
"The Honor of Your Company is Requested": Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Ball at the Patent Office (143)
“Telling the Story:” Have students review primary sources and texts in the unit and do research in local or state historical newspapers so that they can write a newspaper story, letter, or diary entry about the inaugural ball from the perspective of someone who would have attended.
Iolani Palace: A Hawaiian Place of History, Power, and Prestige (161)
• "Extra! Extra! Exploring 19th Century Annexation Op-Eds:" Have your students read and analyze late 19th century news articles about the United States' annexation of foreign lands. They will identify the arguments for and arguments against annexation of a single place or arguments related to expansionism broadly. Students will choose one or two articles and prepare an oral presentation on each article's position, audience, and the evidence the authors use to support their arguments.
• "Discover Civic Activism at Iolani Palace and in Your Community:" Have students read news articles and blog posts about two recent political events at the Iolani Palace. After they read the materials, moderate a class discussion to have students talk about the ways the Palace has been used over the years. Finish the activity by having students use the National Register of Historic Places database to write essays about other historic places used in civic activism.
The Joseph Bellamy House: The Great Awakening in Puritan New England (85)
• "Historical Research in the Community:" Divide the class into small groups. Have each group identify an individual who was prominent in their local community historically. Ask students to investigate what documents, artifacts, historic places, and/or place names associated with the person remain in the town. Coordinate the historical research with groups that might be able to assist the students including church historians, town or courthouse clerks, the local historical society or architectural preservation league, local history reference librarians, or curators of university collections or museums.
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial: Where Man and Memory Intersect (144)
“Local Memorial Study:” Have students, individually or in groups, select a memorial to research using primary sources. The students should visit the memorial and either take a photograph or make a drawing to share with the class.
Memories of Montpelier: Home of James and Dolley Madison (46)
• "A Historic Place in Your Neighborhood:" Have students select a place in their community that is historically or culturally significant. If necessary, have them contact the librarian of the local historical society or curator of a local museum for help. Have students find out as much as they can using primary source evidence that describes the place, the people, and their daily lives. Ask students to visit the site, if possible. When students have gathered as much information as possible, have them work with their local historical society or other sources to develop a special exhibit for the community.
President Lincoln's Cottage: A Retreat (138)
“Emancipation Proclamation and Reparations:” Have students research the reparations debate of 1865.
The Rockets' Red Glare": Francis Scott Key and the Bombardment of Fort McHenry (137)
• "Whose Star-Spangled Banner:" Have the class listen to recordings of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and try to determine whether they meet performance standard proposed in 1957. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Saugus Iron Works: Life and Work at an Early American Industrial Site (30)
• "Archaeology:" Divide students into groups of three or four and have each group choose an object (or "artifact") that they think would reveal something interesting about the culture of our time to future archeologists. Suggest to students that they try to choose an object that may not be readily identified by their classmates, although this is not necessary. As each group displays its object, ask the rest of the class to act as archeologists of the future who are not familiar with these artifacts. They are to pose questions to the group, first about the object’s use or purpose, and then about what they think that tells us about the lives and culture of the people who created and used it. After the class has discussed each of the artifacts, have them think about what they learned from trying to figure out the use of the artifacts. The point of the activity is to see how much information the rest of the class can derive about our culture from a simple artifact.
Separate But Equal? South Carolina's Fight Over School Segregation (158)
• "Extra! Extra! Unequal Education in the United States!:" Have each student write a news article about a group that has experienced discrimination and been barred from education in the United States. Ask each student to imagine he or she is a journalist during that era of discrimination writing about the group’s struggle the day after a historic milestone in the group’s progress. Publish your students’ articles on paper to display or in a class blog.
The Trail of Tears and the Forced Relocation of the Cherokee Nation (118)
• "Historical Evidence:" Ask the students to make a list of the kinds of evidence presented in the lesson (historical quotations, oral histories, illustrations, photographs, etc.) Have students, working in groups, select four pieces of evidence and for each one, ask them to list 1) what kind of evidence it is (speech, letter, map, photograph, etc.), 2) when it was created, 3) what facts it contains, 3) what other kinds of information it provides, 4) why it was created, and 5) what it adds to their understanding of the Cherokee experience and the Trail of Tears. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Ulysses S. Grant and Julia Dent Grant at White Haven Farm: The Missouri Compromise in American Life (154)
"Consider the Evidence, Evaluate the Perspectives:" Have small student groups each go through the lesson and create a chart to record different evidence of slavery, the source of that evidence, and their own analysis of what that evidence reveals.
A Woman's Place Is In the Sewall-Belmont House: Alice Paul and Women's Rights (148)
• "The 20th Century Woman:" Have each student record an oral history interview with a female family friend or relative. Afterward, students can create a class oral history book about the experiences they preserved; develop a poster exhibit and submit their recordings to a local historical society, museum, or library for a service learning project; and analyze the oral histories as primary sources.

Lightning Lessons

Discover the African Burial Ground National Monument (Lightning Lesson 3)
• "Investigating Local and Regional History through Archeology:" Through internet research and contacting local history experts, students will investigate a historic place in their own region where people marked the space with religious or other cultural symbols. They will each design a poster display to explain the who, where, what, and why of the historic site and the meaning of the symbols found there.

Discover Colonel Young's Protest Ride for Equality and Country (Lightning Lesson 2)
• "The First Draft of History: News Reporting and the Historian’s Challenge:" First, provide students with a copy of the primary sources below. Ask them to identify similarities and differences in the two accounts published in leading African American publications, the Cleveland Advocate and the nationally-read paper, The Crisis. Then, guide a class discussion to go over their observations or have students write down their compare/contrast observations as lists.

(back to top)

Service Learning


An American Success Story: The Pope House of Raleigh, NC (124)
"Race Relations in Your Hometown:" Have students research and discuss race relations in their town. Ask them to conduct an interview with a community member who remembers life during the Jim Crow period. Have students submit their recordings either on paper or on tape to the local library or historical society.
Andersonville: Prisoner of War Camp (11)
"Interview a Former Prisoner of War:" Students may arrange interviews on their own, or you may ask a former POW to speak to your class. (Organizations such as the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars are excellent sources for locating former prisoners of war who are willing to visit schools.) On the following day, have students compare their guest's experience with that of the prisoners at Andersonville. Visit the Veterans History Project website, a project created by the Library of Congress, and have students submit their interviews to the collection. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Arthurdale: A New Deal Community Experiment (157)
• "Heritage and Community Service:" Have small student groups identify a public service project related to preserving local history or heritage. For example, they may clean up a historic site, collect a community member's memories in an oral history, or design an exhibit on a local history topic. Have them submit a work plan before the project and a report on their accomplishments afterward..
At a Crossroads: The King of Prussia Inn (119)
"Endangered Sites:" Have students find out if there is a historic place in their community that is endangered. In groups have students research the significance of one of the endangered places and what efforts are being made to preserve the place. Contact the person organizing the preservation efforts and design a project that will allow students to participate in the process. Also, have the class compare each place to King of Prussia Inn.
Back Stairs at Brucemore: Life as Servants in early 20th-Century America (105)
"Preserving the Past:" Identify buildings in your community that are used in a way that is different from their original purpose. Have each student create a display using historical and current photographs of a local building. Students should provide captions for the photos, explain how the building has changed over time, and how the building is being used today. Students should present their display in class and give an explanation of what the building tells them about their community's past. Contact the current owner of the building or business in that building and coordinate with them to display the students’ projects or offer the exhibits for display at the local library, museum, or historical society.
The Battle of Glorieta Pass: A Shattered Dream (91)
"War Memorials in the Local Community:" Have students research and report to the class if a historical battle took place in their community, locate it on a map, and determine if anything commemorates the location. Have them debate the value of honoring events and preserving the places where they occurred. Have students write letters to local community officials to encourage them to commemorate this location. In the letters, the students could also suggest the appropriate text and/or design the commemorative markers.
The Battle of Midway: Turning the Tide in the Pacific (90)
"Local War Memorials:" Have students work in groups to investigate and list the types of war memorials that exist in their community. As a class, discuss the types of war memorials in the local community and consider other ways to commemorate wars. Contact your local Veteran’s association to determine which war memorial could use a local clean up and work with the association to arrange for a class excursion to clean up the memorial and its surrounding grounds.
Boston's Arnold Arboretum: A Place for Study and Recreation (56)
"Researching a Local Park:" Have students choose a local park or other green space to study. Ask them to use a municipal or local historical society library to find out the history of the local park or other green space. Encourage students to prepare a short oral report for class, or present their information in a research paper. Consider taking the class on an outdoor excursion to participate in a “park-clean up” activity.
Bryce Canyon National park: Hoodoos Cast Their Spell (64)
"Promoting Local Resources:" Divide students into small groups and have each group select a national park, monument, historic site, state or local park, wilderness area, or other public use area located in their community that they would like to promote. Have each group create either a promotion page for a newspaper or magazine, a Web page, or a photo essay "advertising" their site. Finally, have the students submit their projects to the given park, site, or public use area.
California to America: A Study in Cultural Change (8)
"Locating Significant Local Properties:" Have students examine a property in their own community that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places or that students believe should be listed. Have them discuss which areas of significance they would use if they were preparing a nomination for that property, and how they would justify their decisions. If a property is not listed, consider contacting local preservation or historical organization, or the state historic preservation office, for information about preparing a nomination. Students could research information for and prepare a nomination for the property.
Clara Barton's House: Home of the American Red Cross (27)
"Local Assistance Groups:" Have students investigate organizations in their area which offer assistance; research them to discover their history, similarities, and differences; and look at them in comparison to the Red Cross. Brainstorm ideas for assistance within their own community and discuss ideas with an organization representative. Work with the organization representative to design a project that would allow the students to assist the organization.
"Comfortable Camps?" Archeology of the Confederate Guard Camp at the Florence Stockade (142)
"Learning about war veterans in your Community:" Have students research the closest national cemetery (or local one if no national cemeteries are near you). Students should inquire about when and why the cemetery was established and by whom. They should also take note of the headstones of soldiers from various wars. If the cemetery hosts commemorative or clean up programs, students should participate.
Digging into the Colonial Past: Archeology and the 16th-Century Spanish Settlements at Charlesfort-Santa Elena (155)
•"Historic Preservation in Your Community:" Have students organize a community service project that brings attention to a neglected local history site and gets your community involved in the preservation or restoration of the site, through an action-plan that includes fundraising, volunteers and advertising.
“The Electric Project”: The Minidoka Dam and Powerplant (160)
• “How do you get your electricity?:” Have students work in groups to investigate power plants and stations in their community. Some of these facilities may be impressive structures that were sources of great local pride when they were first created. Ask the students to consider nominating these historic places to state or national registers.
Embattled Farmers and the Shot Heard Round The World: The Battles of Lexington and Concord (150)
"Local Commemoration:" Have small student groups design a memorial to an important local figure and then give persuasive speeches to win the class’s vote for best memorial. The class will then take the winner’s design, polish it, and then present the idea to local government as a service learning project.
Federal Courthouses and Post Offices: Symbols of Pride and Permanence in American Communities (97)
• "What If... :" Have students work in groups to create a poster or exhibit on a courthouse, post office, or other government building in the area for display at the local library or historical society.
First Lady of the World: Eleanor Roosevelt at Val-Kill (26)
"Local Volunteer Organizations:" Ask students to make a list of the volunteer groups and programs in their community and while working in small groups, have students write and essay on one of the organization's history and structure. Hold a class discussion and consider volunteering for the organization.
Floyd Bennett Field: Naval Aviation's Home in Brooklyn (120)
"World War II in the Local Community:" Have students study the effects of World War II on their town, create a display reflecting what they learned, locate sites where they can go on field trips, and write a report on their experience. Have them help plan a program for Veterans Day or Memorial Day honoring local veterans.
Glen Echo Park: Center for Education and Recreation (24)
"Recreation and Segregation:" Have students research the history of their community to see what groups faced prejudice in the past and which ones are facing it today. After they complete their research, have them present their findings to the class and discuss what they could do to promote more interaction in the community.
Growing into Public Service: William Howard Taft's Boyhood Home (15)
"Practicing Leadership Skills:" Have students work in small groups to develop a list of activities they could undertake that would benefit their neighborhood (i.e., volunteer for a community action agency, help clean up an area, become a mentor to younger children, plant trees and shrubbery, etc.). Have them assess whether such experiences would be helpful for developing leadership skills. If possible, have the class undertake some of these projects.
"The Honor of Your Company is Requested": Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Ball at the Patent Office (143)
“Planning a Community Celebration:” Have students think about the role that formal ceremonies and rituals play in their lives. Then ask students to compare and contrast the requirements for these events from 1865 to today and apply their knowledge to develop a plan for a significant celebratory event in their region.
Ladd Field and the Lend-Lease Mission: Defending Alaska in WWII (146)
• "Veterans of War:" Have students research the impact of war and the military in their own communities and interview veterans, current military members, or those involved in past/current conflicts. Consider taping and transcribing the interviews and offering them to local historic societies or libraries for their collection.
“Making the Desert Bloom”: The Rio Grande Project (141)
• "Where Does Your Water Come From? :" Have students work in groups to investigate the water system in their community. Some of these water-related facilities may be historic structures. Ask each group to select one of these structures and to develop an exhibit, a podcast, an online brochure or tour, a short documentary, an article for the local newspaper or historical society newsletter, an on-site tour, or other interpretive product to share with the local historical society, library, and/or chamber of commerce. Ask them to consider nominating these places state or national registers. If the properties need maintenance or repair, the students may want to call that situation to the attention of local authorities.
Mammoth Cave: Its Explorers, Miners, Archeologists, and Visitors (35)
"Caring for Local Resources:" Have students list some of the places in their community or region that are visited by tourists or are of special interest to the inhabitants of the community. Have students investigate how preservation of one of the established sites is funded. Working in small groups, ask students to identify another site, one that they think ought to be preserved, but which is not yet protected. Have the groups devise a conservation plan for their site.
Memories of Montpelier: Home of James and Dolley Madison (46)
"A Historic Place in Your Neighborhood:" Have students identify a historic place in your neighborhood and find out as much as they can using primary source evidence that describes the place, the people, and their daily lives. When students have gathered as much information as possible, have them work with their local historical society or other sources to develop a special exhibit for the community. Finally, have students compare and contrast the local historic site with Montpelier.
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site: Protecting a Legacy of the Cold War (128)
"Nuclear and Cold War: A Shadow over the World:" Have students conduct oral histories with their parents or community members who remember the Cold War. Have students discuss their interviews in class. Students should consider donating the oral histories to a local library or historical society to preserve these stories about the Cold War for future generations.
Mount Auburn Cemetery: A New American Landscape (84)
"Observing the Landscape:" Arrange for students to visit a local landscape, either a cemetery or park and compare it with Mount Auburn Cemetery. Then identify how people of their community use this landscape and how they seem to feel about it. Have students assess their emotional reaction to the landscape of their local cemetery and explain why they have that feeling. Consider working with the organization that manages the cemetery to arrange a clean-up or preservation project at the cemetery.
A Nation Repays Its Debt: The National Soldiers' Home and Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio (115)
"Explore Your Community for Memorials:" Have students locate and visit a war memorial in their community and have them create an exhibit for the school about the memorial. If the memorial needs to be conserved, have students prepare a letter to the city or local historical society asking them for help in preserving it.
"Local Cemeteries:" Have students inventory the veteran grave sites in the local cemetery and create a database and status report on the markers to present to the caretaker, get an unmarked grave marked with a headstone, and research how to clean and care for a historic gravestone or marker. Students should volunteer to help clean the headstones or help with the grounds upkeep.
"A Soldier's Life:" Have students create a biography of the life of a war veteran for whom you have located a headstone, or an ancestor who served in a war. When completed, have the students donate the biography to the local historical society or library.
President Lincoln's Cottage: A Retreat (138)
“Retreats in Your Local Community:” Have students research existing retreats in their community and, if the retreat relies on volunteer help, have students sign up to volunteer. Additionally, have them propose a new retreat for the community and, if they wish, submit that design to their local government representative for consideration.
Roadside Attractions (6)
"The Auto and the Local Community:" Have students investigate the ways the automobile changed their community, whether any examples of the types of fanciful vernacular architecture or public art studied in this lesson exist or ever existed in their community, and if efforts are being made to preserve these artifacts. If there are, students might help with such preservation efforts as a class project. If there are currently no preservation efforts, students could write letters to local public officials to discuss the importance of preserving these places.
The Rockets' Red Glare": Francis Scott Key and the Bombardment of Fort McHenry (137)
• "Places That Define the Community:" Students search out places that help create their community’s identity, prepare walking tours for newcomers and visitors, and consider appropriate action to care for or protect a place that is threatened by neglect or destructive change. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
The Shields-Ethridge Farm: The End of a Way of Life (145)
• "Our Agrarian Past:" Have students study their community or region’s agrarian past by interviewing people who remember the land before it was developed, by studying maps of pre-development farmland, or by choosing a single farm to investigate its history.
Thomas P. Kennard House: Building a Prairie Capital (149)
• "Places where your state made history:" Have students investigate local historic buildings and produce a poster series about them that could be displayed at a local cultural institution, like a library or historical society.
The Washington Monument: Tribute in Stone (62)
"Designing a Monument:" Have students identify any local heroes who the students think should be honored with a memorial but who are not; have them design one to propose to the local government.
A Woman's Place Is In the Sewall-Belmont House: Alice Paul and Women's Rights (148)
• "The 20th Century Woman:" Have each student record an oral history interview with a female family friend or relative. Afterward, students can create a class oral history book about the experiences they preserved; develop a poster exhibit and submit their recordings to a local historical society, museum, or library for a service learning project; and analyze the oral histories as primary sources

Lightning Lessons

Discover the Mary Ann Shadd Cary House (Lightning Lesson 1)
• "Preserving Historic Places in your Local Community :" Ask students to identify challenges facing a local historic site and design a plan to overcome those challenges OR develop an interpretive plan for a site. Students should develop a presentation about their plan to share with the class and with policy makers.


Learn more about service learning on the TwHP service learning site.
(back to top)

 

Small Group Work

Alaska's Site Summit: Cold War Defense and its Legacy in the North (153)
• "Nike Site Living - Mini Exhibits:" Have small groups of students research aspects of military life at Nike missile facilities and gather information, photographs, illustrations, charts, and quotes about their topic to display on a poster board or similar medium. Each group will present their poster to the class.
Adeline Hornbek and the Homestead Act: A Colorado Success Story (67)
• "Homesteading and Researching Important Women:" Have students work in small groups to research the effects of the Homestead Act in states west of the Mississippi, and have them design and create an exhibit about an outstanding woman who lived (or lives) in the area for the school and community.
At a Crossroads: The King of Prussia Inn (119)
• "Interpreting Artifacts:" Have students bring an item to class their peers would not immediately recognize, and in groups have each student display their “artifact,” while the others examine the object and use their knowledge of history to figure out what the object is, what it was used for, and how old it might be.
• "Endangered Sites:" Have students find out if there is a historic place in their community that is endangered, and in groups have students research the significance of one of the endangered places and what efforts are being made to preserve the place. Have the class compare each place to King of Prussia Inn.
The Battle of Bennington: An American Victory (107)
• "The People, the Cause, the Land, the Strategy:" Have students work in small groups to evaluate and debate about the Battle of Bennington and the factors that led to the battle’s outcome.
The Battle of Honey Springs: The Civil War Comes to the Indian Territory (68)
• "What shall we do?:" In groups, have students imagine they are Native Americans attending a tribal council where they will decide if they will support the Union or Confederacy. Each student should make an individual vote. Have students write a short paper describing if this was a difficult exercise and why.
The Battle of Horseshoe Bend: Collision of Cultures (54)
• "Cultural Conflict:" In groups, have students discuss and list possible strategies the Creek could have used during the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. In different groups, have students discuss if battles like Horseshoe Bend are inevitable by researching a current world conflict and writing a short position paper.
• "What Else Was Happening?:" In groups, have students decide if certain key events in world history were connected to Horseshoe Bend and, if so, how; after working in their groups, have them debate their answers with the rest of the class.
• "Discovering Traces of Local American Indian Culture:" Have students separate into small groups to research the names of towns and cities in their region to see if any of them are derived from original American Indian inhabitants and if any European American/American Indian battles took place in their area.
The Battle of Midway: Turning the Tide in the Pacific (90)
• "Technology and Warfare:" Have students work in groups to review a list of technological developments that have affected warfare. Hold a general class discussion on how weapons technology might affect attitudes towards making war.
• "Local War Memorials:" Have students work in groups to investigate and list the types of war memorials that exist in their community. As a class, discuss the types of war memorials in the local community and consider other ways to commemorate wars.
The Battle of Prairie Grove: Civilian Recollections of the Civil War (70)
• "The Civil War in Your Area:" In groups, have students look at nine historical events associated with the Civil War and what happened in their community in relation to each event; afterwards, have the class design an exhibit around their community's Civil War legacy.
Birthplace of John F. Kennedy: Home of the Boy Who Would Be President (33)
• "Why Do We Remember JFK?:" Divide the class into groups to investigate four important issues of President Kennedy's administration: the space program, civil rights, the Peace Corps, and the nuclear arms race. Assign each student to find a recent newspaper article dealing with one of the issues to share with the class.
Brown v. Board: Five Communities That Changed America (121)
• "The United States Supreme Court:"Divide students into groups and ask each group to choose a landmark Supreme Court case to investigate. After completing their research, ask each group to role play the basic arguments for both sides in front of the rest of the class.
The Building of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (10)
• "Transportation and the Local Community:" Have students work alone or in groups to investigate the early transportation systems of their community.
• "Making Global Connections at Carlisle:" Assign different, specific colonial periods as research projects to your students working in pairs or small groups. Have each student group study their assigned colonial era and list the policies used by the colonial government to control the colonized culture. Then, have your students identify U.S. policies toward indigenous groups in the late 19th century and compare/contrast the policies of the two governments.
Camp Misty Mount: A Place for Regrowth (47)
• "Providing Outdoor Opportunities:" Break students into groups, and have them organize a one-week outdoor education program for students their age. Ask the students if they think such programs are important, and why they have reached that conclusion.
• "Recreation and Conservation:" In groups, have students locate and research a protected natural place in their area, and have each group present its findings to the class and discuss the quality of the remaining natural places. Have them write letters to public officials praising contributions, or appealing for conservation.
Carnegie Libraries: The Future Made Bright (50)
• "Additional Research on Carnegie:" In groups, have students decide whether Andrew Carnegie lived up to his words on the responsibility of rich men. Each group should give their report to the entire class and follow with a class discussion.
Coffeyville, Kansas: The Town That Stopped the Dalton Gang (99)
• "Taking the Law into Our Own Hands:" In teams, have students debate whether they think certain circumstances justify people taking the law into their own hands.
Comfortable Camps?" Archeology of the Confederate Guard Camps at the Florence Stockade (142)
• "Design a Campground:" Divide the class into smaller groups. Each group will decide whether to design a campground for the guards or the prisoners. Have each group present their design and diorama to the class and explain why they created the camp the way they did.
Decatur House: A Home of the Rich and Powerful (19)
• "What Makes a Hero?:" In groups, have students consider what makes a hero and why they think Stephen Decatur was considered a hero; have them compare Decatur with present-day heroes who possess the characteristics they have defined, and as a class discuss their choices and their definitions of a hero.
Digging into the Colonial Past: Archeology and the 16th-Century Spanish Settlements at Charlesfort-Santa Elena (155)
•"Creating a Historical Argument:" Individually or in small groups, have students use historical evidence to argue which settlement in North America should be considered the first. Students can present their work using persuasive essay, a debate, an oral presentation, or a poster board presentation.
The Emerald Necklace: Boston's Green Connection (86)
• "Plan Your Own Greenway:" Have students look at modern and historical maps of their community to compare the type of information each map contains; in groups, have students pretend to represent a landscape architecture firm creating a proposal to design and build a park, and have them present their proposal to the class to make the case for why their design should be implemented.
• "Parks Brochure:" Have students work in groups to create a park brochure of a local park or park system. The final product should be displayed and/or sent to the local parks commission.
Federal Courthouses and Post Offices: Symbols of Pride and Permanence in American Communities (97)
• "What If... :" Divide students into small groups and ask each group to find and conduct research on a federal, state, or county building (a courthouse, post office, general government building) in their area. Direct each group to prepare a visual representation that describes the building itself, its use over time, and how the building functions in the community.
First Lady of the World: Eleanor Roosevelt at Val-Kill (26)
• "The Declaration of Human Rights:" Have the class compare the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the American Bill of Rights. In groups, have students write their own Declaration of Human Rights, and if the document provokes controversy have students discuss why and changes they could make.
• "Local Volunteer Organizations:" Ask students to make a list of the volunteer groups and programs in their community that are dedicated to helping others. Then, working in small groups, ask students to choose one organization or program and write an essay about it; the class should discuss the essays together.
Fort Hancock: A Bastion of America's Eastern Seaboard (37)
"Protecting Coastal America:"In teams, have students research one of the 26 ports believed to have had needed better defenses in 1886, and draw up a plan that shows how they would have defended their city in 1900 and in the 1950s. Hold a classroom discussion on the need to continually update the nation's defense systems.
Fiftieth Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act
• "Activity 1:" Divide students into two groups, one of which reads the first section of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and the other conducts online research on the National Register of Historic Places. Have each group report back to the rest of the class. Next divide the class into small groups and give each group a National Register nomination on a place from the community that is listed in the Register. Ask students to complete worksheets about the place from information in the nomination and, if possible, a site visit. Ask each group to work together to determine how preservation of this place has met the goals of the NHPA or benefited the community and report to the class on their findings.
• "Activity 2:" After a brainstorming exercise to identify older places in the community that may be historically important, divide the class into small groups and assign a place to each group. Ask the groups to visit their place, together or individually, and complete an Observation Worksheet. Also ask the students to conduct research in the local library or historical society to see if they can find information about their place. On the basis of their observations and research, ask students to write a description and statement of historical significance.
Fort Morgan and the Battle of Mobile Bay (73)
• "Building a Fort:" Divide students into small groups and ask each group to research a military installation that existed in their region.
Fort Pickens and the Outbreak of the Civil War (38)
• "Researching Pensacola in the Civil War:" In groups, have students research an issue concerning Pensacola in the Civil War. Have the class listen as each group explains its issue and defends its answer.
Forts of Old San Juan: Guardians of the Caribbean (60)
"Photographing History:" Have students, either working alone or as part of a group, prepare a photo essay that tells the story of an important historic site in their community.
The Frankish Building: A Reflection of the Success of Ontario, California (43)
• "Advertising the Colony of Ontario:" Have students work in groups to make a list of ways they would have tried to attract people to the "Model Colony" of Ontario, and then ask each group to design and make an advertising poster touting the positive attributes of Ontario to prospective settlers.
Frederica: An 18th-Century Planned Community (31)
• "Moving Day:" In groups that represent Frederica families, have students discuss what they would when the fort closed. Have them consider how they would react if a modern military base, military industry installation, or a major factory that employed a large percentage of the town’s population closed.
The Freeman School: Building Prairie Communities (80)
• "And Today in the School:" Have students assume the role of a teacher at the Freeman School and recreate one month of journal entries; after students have completed the journals, divide the class into groups and ask them to share their journal entries with each other about what happened at their school for the month.
• "To Preserve or Not to Preserve:" In groups, have students role-play a citizens' group who has just bought the land on which the abandoned, but historic, Freeman School is located; have each group decide what to do with this building, and have the class vote on whether they should tear down the building or keep it.
From Canterbury to Little Rock: The Struggle for Educational Equality for African Americans
• "The History of Public Education in the Local Community:" Have students work in groups to research the history of public education in their community and prepare a report/presentation.
Glorieta and Raton Passes: Gateways to the Southwest (117)
• "Close to Home:" In groups, have students prepare a written or oral report on their community's role in the westward movement; groups should find out if there are places in their community that relate to this period, such as roadways, farms, buildings, or memorials.
Gold Fever! Seattle Outfits the Klondike Gold Rush (55)
• "Opportunity Knocks:" In groups, have students prepare a written or oral report on an event that brought dramatic economic and/or social change to their town or region. If any buildings or monuments related to the event still exist, collect or take photographs of the building and describe how it is related to their event.
Gran Quivira: A Blending of Cultures in a Pueblo Indian Village (66)
• "Retrieving Data:" Have students make a retrieval chart for the information about the groups of people Gran Quivira's inhabitants probably traded with, and then divide the students into groups of four or five and have them discuss their completed charts.
• "Constructing a Model of a Pueblo:" Have groups of three or four students build a model of one of the components of the village of Gran Quivira. Then put the completed models on dried grass and dirt covered poster boards and assemble the village. Afterwards show the completed pueblo to other classes.
• "The Puebloans and Local Indians:" In groups, have students research and present their findings about the lives of American Indians who lived in their region from about A.D. 1300 to 1660, emphasizing the similarities and differences between these groups and the people of Gran Quivira.
"The Great Chief Justice" at Home (49)
• "Assessing Public and Private Qualities Associated with Greatness:" In groups, have students identify and discuss the qualities of John Marshall that constituted his greatness, identify two or three living persons whom they regard as great, and compare their personal characteristics with Marshall’s; each student should pick one of their candidates for greatness and write an essay on that person.
Growing into Public Service: William Howard Taft's Boyhood Home (15)
• "Practicing Leadership Skills:" Have students define "neighborhood," and then compare their neighborhood to the one in which William Howard Taft grew up. Have students work in small groups to develop a list of activities that would benefit their neighborhood, and have them assess whether such experiences would be helpful for developing leadership skills. Have students write a short paper in which they compare the development of their community with that of Minneapolis. Have them note similarities, differences, and changes over time.
Guilford Courthouse: A Pivotal Battle in the War for Independence (32)
• "Monuments to War:" In groups, have students find a war monument in their community, take photos of it, and copy its inscriptions for an in-class discussion. Have students choose a battle and make a sketch of a monument with a fitting inscription, display their completed works, and discuss why monuments are erected and what they mean to the students.
Herbert Hoover: Iowa Farm Boy and World Humanitarian (34)
• "Citizenship and the Local Community:" Have students construct a survey on the attitudes a cross section of their local community holds toward the concept of good citizenship; then have them work in groups to discuss and tally responses.
Iolani Palace: A Hawaiian Place of History, Power, and Prestige (161)
• "Whose Destiny? Study the effects of American expansion on indigenous cultures :"Break your students into small groups and assign each group a different U.S. territory as the subject for a group report. The report will focus on the people who preceded the U.S. settlers and explain what happened to the group after U.S. acquisition. Students can present their report as a short film, limited podcast series, or as a blog.
Ladd Field and the Lend-Lease Mission: Defending Alaska in WWII (146)
• "Wartime Cooperation:" Divide students into four or five groups and have them research cooperation between the United States and its foreign allies in listed wars. Have students fill in a matrix and use that information to create a museum exhibit.
• "Lend-Lease: Success or Failure:" Divide students into groups to research different countries and the help they received from the United States in World War II. Have students create a presentation to share their findings with the class and facilitate a discussion on what lessons they have learned.
Lafayette Park: First Amendment Rights on the President’s Doorstep (139)
• “Following in the Women's Footsteps:” Divide students into small groups and ask each group to investigate a protest included on a White House Historical Society website on protests at the White House. Ask them to compare the protest they have studied with the National Woman's Party suffrage campaign.
• “First Amendment Rights:” Divide students into groups and ask each group to identify important Supreme Court decisions dealing with one of the rights mentioned in the First Amendment.
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial: Where Man and Memory Intersect (144)
“Designing a Memorial:” Have students divide into groups and decide on an American, male or female, historic or contemporary that they believe should be honored with a memorial. Using whatever materials are available to them, have students create a model of their memorial.
“Making the Desert Bloom”: The Rio Grande Project (141)
• "To Irrigate or Not to Irrigate?:" Divide the students in two groups. Ask one group to study the Rio Grande Project. Ask the other group to investigate farming in the area where they live. Ask each group to make a presentation to the class and then hold a whole class discussion comparing agriculture in the Rio Grande valley and in their own area.
• "Progressivism and the Reclamation Act:" Divide the class into small groups and ask each group to investigate a piece of Progressive legislation passed between 1903 and 1906. Have each group report to the class and then hold a whole class discussion comparing these laws with the 1902 Reclamation Act.
The No. 2 Quincy Shaft-Rockhouse: 9,240 Feet into the Earth (152)
• "What’s in a Name:" Have small student groups determine the nations of origin for four surnames of employees at Quincy, then determine the possible reasons for people from those nations to immigrate to the U.S., and possible lifestyles of people with those names in historic Keweenaw. Each group will present its findings to the class. Afterward, facilitate a class discussion about immigration and labor.
The Octagon of Washington, D.C.: The House that Helped Build a Capital (151)
"The Buildings that Built Your Town:" Have the class discuss the merits of saving old buildings and ask them to identify important buildings in their community. Have the students research local buildings, create posters or display boards to showcase their features and history, and then work together to nominate one to the National Register.
"Capital Decision: An informal debate:" Have the class discuss regional tensions in the United States that led to the debate over where to establish the U.S. capital city. Then, have students break into small groups of 3-4. Have each student choose one side, research his or her position, debate within his or her group, and submit a short persuasive essay summarizing his or her arguments.
President Lincoln's Cottage: A Retreat (138)
• “Retreats in Your Local Community:” Have students work in small groups to come up with a list of qualities that characterize a retreat. After they have compiled a list, have them work together to design a retreat for their own community.
The Rockets' Red Glare": Francis Scott Key and the Bombardment of Fort McHenry (137)
• "Places That Define the Community:" Ask students to search out places that help create their community's identity and assign groups to find out more about each one. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
The Rosenwald Schools: Progressive Era Philanthropy in the Segregated South (159)
• “Apply for a Rosenwald School!” Have small groups research how communities applied for Rosenwald Schools, and then have them write and read aloud a persuasive letter to an imaginary school board, as if each group was representing African American community applying for the board’s support to help build a Rosenwald School.
Separate But Equal? South Carolina's Fight Over School Segregation (158)
• "Map Your Community's School History:" Have your students work in small groups to investigate the histories of local schools. They will use what they uncover to create a class timeline and map to depict the history of education in their community.
• "Massive Resistance in the South:" Have small groups each study the ways Americans in a southern state organized to resist federal laws, rulings, and mandates that were aimed at ending segregation and then have the groups present their findings to the class.
The Shields-Ethridge Farm: The End of a Way of Life (145)
• "Our Agrarian Past:" Have students work in small groups as they study maps of areas in their community before and after its farmland was developed. Alternatively, have students work in groups to select a farm in their community and research its history to find out if it is eligible for listing on the National Register.
Ulysses S. Grant and Julia Dent Grant at White Haven Farm: The Missouri Compromise in American Life (154)
"Consider the Evidence, Evaluate the Perspectives:" Have small student groups each go through the lesson and create a chart to record different evidence of slavery, the source of that evidence, and their own analysis of what that evidence reveals. Next, have your student groups use the information they recorded to write a play about the lives and work of enslaved people at White Haven.
• "Minority Rights and Justice in Grant's era and in yours:" Have small student groups investigate Grant’s political work with minority groups and then investigate the history of minority groups in your students' own community or region. Have them organize their research as a timeline in a computer presentation to show to the rest of the class.
A Woman's Place Is In the Sewall-Belmont House: Alice Paul and Women's Rights (148)
• "Organizing for Reform:" Break students up into small groups and then assign each group an historic organization that supported women’s suffrage. Students will research the group, create a slideshow presentation, and then present their findings in an oral report with the slideshow.
Lightning Lessons
• "Breaking Barriers to Military Service in American History" Have students work in groups or as individual investigators, to select and research a topic related to Civil Rights and U.S. military service… Students should create a bibliography to list the primary and secondary sources they find, including books, newspaper articles, and legal documents.
After your students investigate and do the research, either individually or in their groups, they will put together a report to explain who they studied, what the civil rights issue was/is, and the history of the issue. The report should explain the current situation with the issue and the students’ thoughts on the future of the issue. The report may be presented in written analysis or oral form.
Discover the Mary Ann Shadd Cary House (Lightning Lesson 1)
• "Nineteenth Century Urban Engineering and Home Comforts :" Have students study 19th century home life in this historical research and arts project. Students will research a home appliance that was available in late 19th century cities. Students will take their findings and interpret it in an art project (visual, digital, performance, etc). Exhibit the projects as appropriate.
• "Preserving Historic Places in your Local Community :" Ask students to identify challenges facing a local historic site and design a plan to overcome those challenges OR develop an interpretive plan for a site. Students should develop a presentation about their plan to share with the class and with policy makers.
Discover the Solar Eclipse of 1900 in Historic Wadesboro, NC (Lightning Lesson 4)
• "Lights, Camera, Action: A Solar Eclipse in Motion:" Students break into small groups and use available classroom materials and equipment (sports balls, etc) to design models of the the Earth, Moon, and Sun. They will act out the movements of the orbs and use a flashlight to recreate a solar eclipse and record what they observe during the "event."

(back to top)

Timelines

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania: A Moravian Settlement in Colonial America (59)
• "Developing a Timeline:" Have students draw a timeline depicting major world events from 1400 to 1800 on the top and important events of the Moravian Church on the bottom. Have students discuss how and why certain events impacted the Moravian Church.
Brown v. Board: Five Communities That Changed America (121)
• "The NAACP:" Have students research the NAACP, and have them summarize their findings in a written report or a timeline illustrating the NAACP's history.
"Controlling Culture, Controlling History:The Power in Telling History" Have your students create timelines to illustrate the history of a tribal nation or single American Indian culture represented at Carlisle. The timeline can include political, social, cultural, and legal landmarks and eras. Students can use arts and crafts to create a paper timeline or create a digital timeline online. A quick internet search will help you identify the best program for your students.
Carnegie Libraries: The Future Made Bright (50)
• "Libraries in the Local Community:" Have students research the history of their local library and write a report, create a timeline, or design an exhibit.
Castolon: A Meeting Place of Two Cultures (17)
• "Comparing Castolon to the Local Community:" Have students research and create a tabloid-sized newspaper of what was happening in their own community from 1920 to 1940. Ask students to draw a timeline comparing their community with Castolon.
Chicago's Black Metropolis: Understanding History through a Historic Place (53)
• "The Time Perspective:" Have students construct a timeline of 10 significant events from the information in this lesson on one side and on the other historical periods. Students should share their periodization schemes with each other.
Forts of Old San Juan: Guardians of the Caribbean (60)
• "Spain and Other Colonizers:" 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 (e.g. 1600, 1650, 1750, and 1850) to see how European control of the Americas changed over time.
From Canterbury to Little Rock: The Struggle for Educational Equality for African Americans
• "The Road to Educational Equality:" Have students make a timeline of events related to school desegregation that are connected to the Prudence Crandall Museum and Little Rock Central High School. Have the class discuss some of the challenges African Americans and white supporters faced in their struggle.
Keys Ranch: Where Time Stood Still (65)
• "Local Community History:" In groups, have students research the history of their town to create a timeline (students should try to find and photograph buildings or monuments to illustrate their timeline). Have them compare and discuss the events of their timeline.
Navesink Lighthouse and Robbins Reef Lighthouse: Lighting the Way through New York Bay (131)
• "Advancements in Lighting:" Have students individually or in groups research the history American lighthouses to create a timeline showing how lighting technology has changed.
The Ohio and Erie Canal: Catalyst of Economic Development for Ohio (41)
• "The Importance of Transportation Systems:" Have students work in groups to create a timeline or illustrated map of the nation’s transportation history, research a local transportation route or transportation system in order to create a local timeline or map, and compare both timelines or maps for class discussion.
Separate But Equal? South Carolina's Fight Over School Segregation (158)
• "Map Your Community's School History:" Have your students work in small groups to investigate the histories of local schools. They will use what they uncover to create a class timeline and map to depict the history of education in their community.
Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site: Birthplace of the Modern Presidency (77)
• "Buildings That Have Witnessed History:" Have students locate and trace the history of a building in their community that has served many purposes over the years. Have them make a timeline with information about the structure at various times in its history and events that occurred in the U.S. during that same time period.
Ulysses S. Grant and Julia Dent Grant at White Haven Farm: The Missouri Compromise in American Life (154)
• "Minority Rights and Justice in Grant's era and in yours:" Have small student groups investigate Grant’s political work with minority groups and then investigate the history of minority groups in your students' own community or region. Have them organize their research as a timeline in a computer presentation to show to the rest of the class.
The United States Air Force Academy: Founding a Proud Tradition (114)
• "Military Air Power:" In groups, have students research what type of military airplanes were used during World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, or today, and prepare a report that includes photos and basic information about the aircraft. As a class, have students create an illustrated timeline of advances in military airplane technology since World War I.
A Woman's Place Is In the Sewall-Belmont House: Alice Paul and Women's Rights (148)
•“Histories of Liberties:” Have each student choose a group that organized in the United States to increase its own political rights. Each student will research the group and then create a timeline of the laws and major events in the organized group’s history that affected its rights.
Lightning Lessons
• "Breaking Barriers to Military Service in American History:" Following the reporting of information, the class could engage in a debate on the issues surrounding the topic, such as for or against women on the front lines. Students could each contribute their information relating to their issues to create a “History of Civil Rights in the Military” timeline display to share with the school and community.
Discover the Solar Eclipse of 1900 in Historic Wadesboro, NC (Lightning Lesson 4)
• "Charting Solar Eclipses around the World:" Have students use an online eclipse database to create a chart that outlines the date, duration, and paths of totality where total solar eclipses occurred in the last fifty years. Have them display their findings and then facilitate a discussion of eclipses in a global cultural context.

(back to top)

Whole Class Discussions

Alaska's Site Summit: Cold War Defense and its Legacy in the North (153)
• "Memories of the Cold War:" Invite a veteran of the Cold War era to speak to the class about his or her military experience. Then, hold a class discussion about the civilian experience during the Cold War and have students interview someone who lived that experience to collect an oral history.
Adeline Hornbek and the Homestead Act: A Colorado Success Story (67)
"Homesteading:" Have students work in small groups to research the effects of the Homestead Act in states west of the Mississippi, and have them compare each state to one another.
Allegheny Portage Railroad: Developing Transportation Technology (23)
"Innovation and Industrialization:" Have students discuss how the U.S. has imported and exported technological innovations. Divide the class in half, and hold a debate on the pros and cons of changes in technology.
"Transportation Technology: Past, Present, & Future:" Have students research their community’s transportation history and write a paper on that topic. Ask students to imagine and describe the kinds of transportation they think might be available a century from now and hold a class discussion on the students’ responses.
An American Success Story: The Pope House of Raleigh, NC (124)
"Mock Election:" Have students make campaign posters for Dr. Manassa Pope’s 1919 election, create a display for them, and discuss the merits of running on principle and whether this helps to accomplish certain goals; hold a mock election and randomly tell some students they cannot vote, and hold a class discussion after the exercise.
"Race Relations in Your Hometown:" Have students research and discuss race relations in their town; ask them to conduct an interview with a community member who remembers life during the Jim Crow period, and have students submit their recordings either on paper or on tape to the local library or historical society.
America's Space Program: Exploring a New Frontier (101)
"Unexpected Benefits from Space Research:" Ask students to refer to the NASA website to identify some of the new products and processes originally developed for the space program that they use in their daily life. Hold a class discussion about how they would measure the success of the Apollo program and whether it was worth the many millions of dollars invested in it.
"A Mission to Mars?:" In groups, have students list what would be needed to plan a mission to Mars. Have them combine their answers and discuss the complexity and expense involved in developing a manned mission to Mars.
"What Price History?:" Have students discuss if the Apollo launch tower should have been preserved. In groups, have them find a place in their town associated with an important event that occurred in their or their parents' lifetimes, and have them decide if any or all of the places should be deemed historic and, if so, if it should be preserved and/or interpreted for future generations.
At a Crossroads: The King of Prussia Inn (119)
"Endangered Sites:" Have students find out if there is a historic place in their community that is endangered, and in groups have students research the significance of one of the endangered places and what efforts are being made to preserve the place. Have the class compare each place to King of Prussia Inn.
Attu: North American Battleground of World War II (7)
"War and the Individual:" Encourage students to invite a veteran of a recent military engagement to speak to the class; after the presentation, have students compare the recent military engagement with the WWII battle.
The Battle of Bentonville: Caring for Casualties of the Civil War (69)
"On the Homefront:" Have students work in groups to create short plays about the impact of war on the people who live near battlefields, and then have them discuss the impact of war on those people.
The Battle of Bunker Hill: Now We Are at War (42)
"Rebellion Then and Now:" Have students create a list of reasons why the colonists rebelled against the British government, and have them search for countries that recently undergone or are undergoing a revolution or change in government. In two groups, have students defend the government or rebels’ positions, and as a class discuss the effectiveness of revolutions as a way to settle issues.
"Community Issues:" Have students investigate their community to find out if there was a significant issue, recent or long ago, that united or divided the local citizens. Have students work together to prepare a report about this event and discuss other ways in which the problem could have been solved.
The Battle of Glorieta Pass: A Shattered Dream (91)
"Impact of the Confederate Invasion:" Have the class examine a diary entry from one of the readings, and discuss it as a class.
The Battle of Honey Springs: The Civil War Comes to the Indian Territory (68)
"Working Together Across Ethnic Lines:" Have students consider their communities and whether there are examples in which distinct groups previously at odds banded together to meet a common goal; after this discussion, assign a skit or a written or oral report where students further study and learn about their example.
The Battle of Horseshoe Bend: Collision of Cultures (54)
"Cultural Conflict:" In groups, have students discuss and list possible strategies the Creek could have used during the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. In different groups, have students discuss if battles like Horseshoe Bend are inevitable by researching a current world conflict and writing a short position paper
"What Else Was Happening?:" In groups, have students decide if certain key events in world history were connected to Horseshoe Bend and, if so, how. After working in their groups, have them debate their answers with the rest of the class.
"Discovering Traces of Local American Indian Culture:" Have students discuss whether Indian tribes should receive compensation because of past government treaty violations. Why or why not? If so, what should it be?
The Battle of Midway: Turning the Tide in the Pacific (90)
"Victory or Defeat?:" Have students review the information contained in this lesson, and hold a classroom discussion to decide whether intelligence, strategy, tactics, or luck made the greatest contribution to the victory.
"Technology and Warfare:" Have students work in groups to review a list of technological developments that have affected warfare. Hold a general class discussion on how weapons technology might affect attitudes towards making war.
"Remembering the Battle of Midway:" Have students discuss how the Battle of Midway could be honored given the difficulty of traveling to Midway.
"Local War Memorials:" Have students work in groups to investigate and list the types of war memorials that exist in their community. As a class, discuss the types of war memorials in the local community and consider other ways to commemorate wars.
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania: A Moravian Settlement in Colonial America (59)
"Developing a Time Line:" Have students draw a timeline depicting major world events from 1400 to 1800 on the top and important events of the Moravian Church on the bottom. Have students discuss how and why certain events impacted the Moravian Church.
"Mapping a Neighborhood:" Have students compare buildings in Bethlehem with the oldest buildings in their community, as well as comparing the oldest map or drawing of their community with Bethlehem, make a list of types of buildings, identify the building types of Bethlehem and their community, and have a general discussion about the two communities.
Birthplace of John F. Kennedy: Home of the Boy Who Would Be President (33)
"Why Do We Remember JFK?:" Divide the class into groups to investigate four important issues of President Kennedy's administration: the space program, civil rights, the peace corps, and the nuclear arms race. Assign each student to find a recent newspaper article dealing with one of the issues to share with the class.
"People Make a Difference:" Have students read a profile of Kennedy written after his death, and then assign them to find an assessment of him in the years since. Each student should write a summary of what changed and what remained the same, and as a class discuss how opinions about JFK changed over time.
Building America's Industrial Revolution: The Boott Cotton Mills of Lowell, MA (21)
"The Mill as a System:" Have students identify the elements that come together to produce a school system. List the positive and negative internal and external forces that affect the smooth running of the school system, and develop a plan for action that might moderate negative forces. `
"Controlling Culture, Controlling History: The Power in Telling History:" Have your students create timelines to illustrate the history of a tribal nation or single American Indian culture represented at Carlisle. The timeline can include political, social, cultural, and legal landmarks and eras. Students can use arts and crafts to create a paper timeline or create a digital timeline online. A quick internet search will help you identify the best program for your students.
"Explore Disease at Carlisle with Science and Empathy:" Wrap up the presentations with a brief discussion about the spread of disease at Carlisle. Have your students comment on ways a student might have been infected in a classroom or crowded dormitory at the school. Ask them how the spread of disease may have been prevented.
"Additional Research on Carnegie:" In groups, have students decide whether Andrew Carnegie lived up to his words on the responsibility of rich men; each group should give their report to the entire class and follow with a class discussion.
"Spending a Fortune:" Give each student $100 million. They are to write an essay describing how much money they are keeping for themselves, giving to their families, and giving to charity. Once they have decided, have the students discuss in class why they chose as they did.
Chatham Plantation: Witness to the Civil War (45)
"Write a Letter Home:" Review the readings and photos. Then as a class, discuss the impact wars can have on the soldiers, on the countryside where battles are fought, and on those who are forced to evacuate their homes.
"Living Through a War:" Following interviews, have the class discuss how the experiences of local people who lived through a war or a natural disaster compared or contrasted with the experiences of the Lacy family, the wounded soldiers, and civilians like Barton and Whitman during the Civil War.
Chattanooga, Tennessee: Train Town (52)
"Researching Your Community’s Railroad History:" As a class, discuss whether the availability of transportation affected decisions about where to locate or relocate local businesses. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Chesterwood: The Workshop of an American Sculptor (100)
"Reading a Sculpture:" Have students examine a work Daniel Chester French created and make a list of symbols and details in the work. Then have them write a short paper that explains what the sculpture is trying to convey and how it communicates that message, and participate in a class discussion on the role of art in society.
Chicago's Black Metropolis: Understanding History through a Historic Place (53)
"Creating a Historic Place:" Have the class discuss the process by which structures are transformed into historic places, and then encourage students to use the information from the discussion to draw a flowchart showing the process people use to invest places with historical meaning.
Choices and Commitments: The Soldiers of Gettysburg (44)
"Putting Yourself in the Shoes of a Civil War Soldier:" Have students imagine themselves as men living during the Civil War, and ask them to write two or three diary entries explaining who they are, what position they took toward the war, their justification for taking that position, and a description of their activities during the war. As a class discuss the different choices made by the students.
"Comparing Perspectives:" Ask students to reexamine the Gettysburg Address and discuss their ideas about the Address. Have the class work as a group to identify issues in their lives or in society that generate conflict or disagreement, and have them discuss how the resolution of this issue would be different from those issues that were causes of the Civil War.
"Persuasive Writing and Speaking:" Ask students to think of a problem or controversial issue facing their community and write a persuasive speech that will energize people to work toward finding a solution. The class should discuss their speeches.
Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Clara Barton's House: Home of the American Red Cross (27)
"Local Assistance Groups:" Have students (individually or in small groups) investigate organizations in their area which offer assistance, and have them discuss how each organization’s similarities and differences help meet the needs of the community. Have them brainstorm ways they could help members of their community.
Coffeyville, Kansas: The Town That Stopped the Dalton Gang (99)
"Locally Famous Events in the Community:" Have students talk to older people in their community to determine whether any famous event occurred there. Have them research local newspapers to see how the event was covered, and hold a class discussion about whether the event should be commemorated.
"Comfortable Camps?" Archeology of the Confederate Guard Camp at the Florence Stockade (142)
"Archeology of Your Room:" Have students examine the contents of their room at home and think about what items would survive if buried in the ground for a long time and which would not. First, have each student write an essay describing what they think would be found and why, as well as why they think it would be interpreted. Second, have the class discuss how the things found at the site of their room would differ from the things recovered at the Florence Stockade and how they are the same.
Decatur House: A Home of the Rich and Powerful (19)
"What Makes a Hero?:" In groups, have students consider what makes a hero and why they think Stephen Decatur was considered a hero. Have them compare Decatur with present-day heroes who possess the characteristics they have defined, and as a class discuss their choices and their definitions of a hero.
Digging into the Colonial Past: Archeology and the 16th-Century Spanish Settlements at Charlesfort-Santa Elena (155)
•"Historic Preservation in Your Community:" Have students organize a community service project that brings attention to a neglected local history site and gets your community involved in the preservation or restoration of the site. As a class, an action-plan should be developed to help organize the project.
“The Electric Project”: The Minidoka Dam and Powerplant (160)
• “Centuries of Change: How Everyday Life Has Changed Due to Electricity:” Have students keep diaries of how they accomplish everyday tasks with technology. Have them use the diary to compare and contrast their lives to a primary source document about housework in the 19th century and to information about life on the Minidoka Project.
Embattled Farmers and the Shot Heard Round The World: The Battles of Lexington and Concord (150)
"Rebellion -- Then and Now:" Have students study both the causes of the American Revolution and the causes of a recent revolution or ongoing rebellion. Ask them to list reasons why, for both events, people decided to change their government. Have a class discussion about how societies resolve conflicts.
Enduring Awatovi: Uncovering Hopi Life and Work on the Mesa (156)
• "Two Views on Awatovi:" Have two student groups consider Hopi and anthropologist perspectives on Awatovi by developing questions and interviewing experts. Have the groups present and each student talk about their findings. Hold a class discussion to compare and contrast the two presentations.
Federal Courthouses and Post Offices: Symbols of Pride and Permanence in American Communities (97)
• "The Federal Judicial System:" Ask students to conduct research and then make a chart describing the different branches of the U.S. court system. Conclude the activity by discussing as a class why it is important to have federal courthouses throughout the country.
• "The National Register of Historic Places:" Students should research how historic buildings are recognized at the state and/or local level and discuss how the designation process differs from that of the National Register. The class as a whole can debate the value of documenting and officially recognizing historic resources.
First Lady of the World: Eleanor Roosevelt at Val-Kill (26)
"The Declaration of Human Rights:" Have the class compare the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the American Bill of Rights; in groups, have students write their own Declaration of Human Rights, and if the document provokes controversy have students discuss why and changes they could make.
"Local Volunteer Organizations:" Ask students to make a list of volunteer organizations or programs in their community and, working in groups, pick one of these and write an essay about the origin, history, and work of the organization or program. Discuss the group essays as a class.
Fort Hancock: A Bastion of America's Eastern Seaboard (37)
"Continued Evolution of Defenses:" Have students decide if the money spent on defense at Fort Hancock was worth it, and have each student write a short essay explaining why. Hold a class discussion on their answers, or hold a debate between two sides.
"Protecting Coastal America:" In teams, have students research one of the 26 ports believed to have had needed better defenses in 1886, and draw up a plan that shows how they would have defended their city in 1900 and in the 1950s. Hold a classroom discussion on the need to continually update the nation's defense systems.
Fiftieth Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act
"Activity 1:" Have students work in groups to research the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and the National Register of Historic Places and then hold a class discussion to create a list of benefits of preserving historic places. Give students documentation for places listed in the National Register and then ask the class to discuss the types on places listed, when they were listed, and other information. After students have conducted more research about these places, have the class discuss how successful historic preservation in their community has been in achieving the goals of the National Historic Preservation Act.
"Activity 2:" Have students work in groups to research the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and the National Register of Historic Places and then hold a class discussion to create a list of benefits of preserving historic places. Next have students brainstorm to identify older places that give your community its identity and which may be historically significant. After students have conducted research on some of these places, lead a class discussion about how preserving these places would achieve the goals Congress identified in the National Historic Preservation Act.
Fort Pickens and the Outbreak of the Civil War (38)
• "Surrender or Not:" Have students act out the confrontation that occurred at Fort Pickens on January 15, 1861. After the role play is completed, have the class discuss the relative merit of the positions presented by the opposing parties.
• "Isn’t It Ironic?:" Have students list as many ironies connected with activities in the Pensacola area in the 19th century as they can, and hold a general class discussion about inevitability or lack or inevitability in historic events.
• "Military Installations in the Local Community:" Ask students to investigate their region to determine if there is a military base in the area, have them research the military base, and hold a classroom discussion based on the students’ findings.
Frederica: An 18th-Century Planned Community (31)
"Living in Frederica:" Have students pretend they are original settlers in Frederica who are writing a letter describing the fort and town of Frederica to someone in Great Britain. Hold a general class discussion on what life might have been like for early settlers.
"Moving Day:" In groups that represent Frederica families, have students discuss what they would when the fort closed. Have them consider how they would react if a modern military base, military industry installation, or a major factory that employed a large percentage of the town’s population closed.
"Planned Communities:" Have students research and compare different models and histories of planned communities in colonial and modern times, as well as their own community.
From Canterbury to Little Rock: The Struggle for Educational Equality for African Americans
"The Road to Educational Equality:" Have students make a timeline of events related to school desegregation that are connected to the Prudence Crandall Museum and Little Rock Central High School. Have the class discuss some of the challenges African Americans and white supporters faced in their struggle. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Glen Echo Park: Center for Education and Recreation (24)
"Recreation and Segregation:" Have students research the history of their community to see what groups faced prejudice in the past and those who are facing it today. After they completed their research, have them present their findings to the class and discuss what they could do to promote more interaction in the community.
Glorieta and Raton Passes: Gateways to the Southwest (117)
"Geography and Manifest Destiny:" Have students discuss the relationship between geography and the history of U.S. expansion.
"Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way…:" Have the class discuss whether U.S. territorial growth was the result of government and military desires or the effects of financial expansion.
"The Great Chief Justice" at Home (49)
"Historic Sites in the Local Community:" Have students research a historic site in their community associated with an important figure and prepare a written report. Have them read their reports aloud and participate in a classroom discussion on whether they feel it is important to preserve historic sites that are associated with important persons of the past.
Guilford Courthouse: A Pivotal Battle in the War for Independence (32)
"Eyewitness Accounts:" Have students compare and discuss what they learned from history texts or in newspaper articles with actual eyewitness testimony—invite an eyewitness from a significant event (e.g. war battles or natural disasters) to speak to the class.
"Monuments to War:" Have students discuss why monuments are erected and what they mean to the students.
Harry Truman and Independence, Missouri: "This is Where I Belong" (103)
"The Place We Call Home:" Have students compare their neighborhoods to the one that President Truman lived in for most of his life. Discuss similarities and differences between their surroundings and his in Independence.
Herbert Hoover: Iowa Farm Boy and World Humanitarian (34)
"Citizenship and the Local Community:" Have students construct a survey on the attitudes a cross section of their local community holds toward the concept of good citizenship; then have them work in groups to discuss and tally responses. As a class discuss the results of the survey, develop a definition of good citizenship, and list ways in which they could act as good citizens in their own community.
The Hispano Ranchos of Northern New Mexico: Continuity and Change (96)
"Continuity and Change in the Community:" Have students investigate their community to find out about the first settlers there. Students should compare and list how customs have changed between the time of the first settlers and today, and have the class discuss about early life in their community.
The Invention Factory: Thomas Edison's Laboratories (25)
"The Invention Process:" In groups of five, have students work together as a team to design and produce a new vehicle. After all vehicles have been built, described, and tested, hold a full class discussion on why students think some vehicles worked and some did not.
Johnson Lake Mine: Mining for Tungsten in Nevada's Snake Range (110)
"The Puzzle:" To demonstrate that archeologists only find a small percentage of what past people have left behind, give each student 5 random pieces of a 100-piece jigsaw puzzle that they will attempt to assemble is some sort of order. Have the class discuss how hard it is to get a good idea of what is going on with a only a small percentage of the information.
"Journey from Slavery to Statesman": The Homes of Frederick Douglass (147)
"Activity 2: The Great Orator:" Have students learn part of a Frederick Douglass speech and recite it in class. Have students discuss what they found to be the most challenging parts about speaking like Douglass.
Keys Ranch: Where Time Stood Still (65)
"Local Community History:" In groups, have students research the history of their town to create a timeline (students should try to find and photograph buildings or monuments to illustrate their timeline). Have them compare and discuss the events of their timeline.
Knife River: Early Village Life on the Plains (1)
"Drawing Conclusions from Art:" With a partner, have students make lists of the details they see in two paintings of Knife River by George Catlin. After comparing lists with classmates, students should make generalizations about the paintings image of the Hidatsa and mandan Indians
Ladd Field and the Lend-Lease Mission: Defending Alaska in WWII (146)
• "Lend-Lease: Success or Failure:" Divide students into groups to research different countries and the help they received from the United States in World War II. Have students create a presentation to share their findings with the class and facilitate a discussion on what lessons they have learned.
Lafayette Park: First Amendment Rights on the President’s Doorstep (139)
"Planning for Protest:" Ask the students to imagine that they are working for the National Park Service, which administers Lafayette Park. Ask the whole class to discuss how they would make decisions that would balance protesters' rights to free speech and the rights of visitors to enjoy a public park with a view of the White House.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition: Documenting the Uncharted Northwest (108)
"The Power of the Pen:" In groups, have students spend an hour observing and recording their environment in a journal (include drawings and writings). Each group should talk in depth about their observations so that the class might guess what was observed.
The Liberty Bell: From Obscurity to Icon (36)
"What Do Symbols Tell Us about Ourselves?:" Have students work in pairs and interview each other about the Liberty Bell; ask students to think of events that have occurred in their lifetimes that might one day become symbolized as important in American history.
"Symbols in the Local Community:" Have the class list reasons why people use symbols, and ask them to look for and list several patriotic symbols found in their communities or found in advertisements in order to evaluate each symbol and draw conclusions about the use of for commercial purposes.
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial: Forging Greatness during Lincoln's Youth (126)
"Abraham Lincoln and U.S. History:" Have students research varying opinions on Lincoln using media sources available to the public during his election, his presidency, and his death. Hold a class discussion that compares and contrasts these varying opinions with what was learned about Lincoln in this lesson. Why do students think Lincoln was such a controversial figure in U.S. history?
"Important Figures in Your Local Community:" Hold a classroom discussion on whether or not students feel it is important to preserve historic sites that are associated with important persons of the past.
Lincoln Home National Historic Site: A Place of Growth and Memory (127)
"A Visit from a Hometown Politician:" Invite a locally elected official to talk to the class on his or her experience in politics, with students asking questions. Hold a class discussion where students compare the local official and Abraham Lincoln.
"Modern Reporting:" Have students read present-day news articles that deal with politicians and political events. Have the class discuss the similarities or differences in how reporters wrote during Lincoln's time compared to today, and have them write their own report of a current political event that either happened in their community or they witnessed on TV.
Little Kinnakeet Lifesaving Station: Home to Unsung Heroes (57)
"Beach Patrol:" In groups, have students pretend they are reporting shipwreck details to the Keeper of a lifesaving station. Hold a general classroom discussion of what the students have learned about the lifesavers' complex job.
"Today's Lifesavers:" Hold a classroom discussion about how modern lifesaving procedures and conditions differ from those encountered by lifesavers of the U.S.L.S.S.
Locke and Walnut Grove: Havens for Early Asian Immigrants in California
"Life as an Immigrant:" Have students, working individually or in groups, imagine they are immigrants to a strange, new land. Hold a general discussion after students have had 15 or 20 minutes to work, or have individuals or groups write a short essay describing their imagined experiences.
“Making the Desert Bloom”: The Rio Grande Project (141)
• "To Irrigate or Not to Irrigate?:" Divide the students in two groups. Ask one group to study the Rio Grande Project. Ask the other group to investigate farming in the area where they live. Ask each group to make a presentation to the class and then hold a whole class discussion comparing agriculture in the Rio Grande valley and in their own area.
• "Progressivism and the Reclamation Act:" Divide the class into small groups and ask each group to investigate a piece of Progressive legislation passed between 1903 and 1906. Have each group report to the class and then hold a whole class discussion comparing these laws with the 1902 Reclamation Act.
Martin Van Buren's "Return to the Soil" (39)
"Local Political Campaigns:" Have the class investigate the campaigns of a recent or current local political race; have the class discuss the similarities and differences between modern local campaigns and national campaigns of the 1830s.
Memories of Montpelier: Home of James and Dolley Madison (46)
"Slavery and Freedom:" In a classroom discussion, have students put themselves into the mindset of James Madison to try to justify the institution of slavery as they believe he would have done, and have them discuss the institution of slavery from a different point of view. Complete the activity by discussing the concepts of justice and fairness in different historical time periods.
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site: Protecting a Legacy of the Cold War (128)
"Nuclear and Cold War: A Shadow Over the World:" Have students conduct oral histories with their parents or community members who remember the Cold War. After the interviews are completed, have students discuss their interviews in class, and possibly have the students donate the oral histories to a local library or historical society.
A Nation Repays Its Debt: The National Soldiers' Home and Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio (115)
"African Americans in the Civil War:" In three groups, have students complete one of the following activities: research Joshua Dunbar's story, write a biography, and present it to the class; study an excerpt from The Colored Soldiers and then lead a class discussion; or research the contributions of African-American soldiers to the Civil War and report to the class.
New Kent School and the George W. Watkins School: From Freedom of Choice to Integration (104)
"First Person Account:" Have students write a journal entry from the perspective of a person who lived and experienced segregation in schools. Hold a classroom discussion about the journal entries and have students discuss the different perspectives in relation to desegregation.
New Philadelphia: A Multiracial Town on the Illinois Frontier (130)
"Role Play:" Have students discuss how they would decide whether the trip to purchase one family member out of slavery was worth the risk.
North Carolina State Capitol: Pride of the State (61)
"Locating a Capital, Classical Architecture in the Community:" Ask the class where they think their state capital should be. Have students discuss why they think people designed buildings in their community in the Greek Revival Style.
The No. 2 Quincy Shaft-Rockhouse: 9,240 Feet into the Earth (152)
• "What’s in a Name:" Have small student groups determine the nations of origin for four surnames of employees at Quincy, then determine the possible reasons for people from those nations to immigrate to the U.S., and possible lifestyles of people with those names in historic Keweenaw. Each group will present its findings to the class. Afterward, facilitate a class discussion about immigration and labor.
The Octagon of Washington, D.C.: The House that Helped Build a Capital (151)
"The Buildings that Built Your Town:" Have the class discuss the merits of saving old buildings and ask them to identify important buildings in their community. Have the students research local buildings, create posters or display boards to showcase their features and history, and then work together to nominate one to the National Register.
"Capital Decision: An informal debate:" Have the class discuss regional tensions in the United States that led to the debate over where to establish the U.S. capital city. Then, have students break into small groups of 3-4. Have each student choose one side, research his or her position, debate within his or her group, and submit a short persuasive essay summarizing his or her arguments.
The Ohio and Erie Canal: Catalyst of Economic Development for Ohio (41)
"The Importance of Transportation Systems:" Have students work in groups to create a timeline or illustrated map of the nation’s transportation history, research a local transportation route or transportation system in order to create a local timeline or map, and compare both timelines or maps for class discussion.
The Old Court House in St. Louis: Yesterday & Today (9)
"Locating a Railway:" Have students identify the railroad nearest their community or region. Discuss whether and to what degree railroads were important to townspeople in the 19th century.
"Examining Trials:" Have students look up the meaning and discuss a list of court-related words. Have the class visit an actual trial if possible, and ask them to choose a particular person involved in the case with whom to identify for a classroom discussion.
The Old Mormon Fort: Birthplace of Las Vegas, Nevada (122)
"Lives of the Pioneers:" Have students use what they have learned to write a diary entry as if they lived at the Old Mormon Fort or the later ranch. Have them present the diary entries to the rest of the class and discuss the evolution of the fort.
Paterson, New Jersey: America's Silk City (102)
"Working and Workers:" Ask students to discuss as a class the introduction of modern machinery and the question of who should benefit from it.
"Labor Unions and Strikes:" Have groups of students research the story of one major union in America; Have the class discuss what the unions accomplished in these strikes and how our lives might be different today if organized labor had not existed.
"Local Industry:" In groups, have students research their community to determine what industries were important in its history, discuss their findings to try to determine why certain industries disappeared while others remained successful, and to find out whether any buildings remain that were associated with early industries.
President Lincoln's Cottage: A Retreat
“Journal Entry:” Have students keep a journal of their own observations and experiences on their way to and from school; summarize their findings at the end of that period; and hold a class discussion about patterns or changes they observed, any conclusions they drew, and hypotheses about the future.
“Retreats in Your Local Community:” After students work in small groups to come up with a list of qualities that characterize a “retreat” and compare any locally identified retreats with that list, hold a class discussion about the groups’ conclusions.
Remembering Pearl Harbor: The USS Arizona Memorial (18)
"Comparing Textbook Accounts:" Have students read an American and Japanese account of Pearl Harbor and have them cite differences between the two. Have them develop an outline of the information they think should be included in both U.S. and Japanese texts, and then compare the outlines and discuss differences.
"Examining War Memorials:" After examining local war memorials, have students discuss why some wars have been better remembered than others. Does the type of war fought make a difference? Have styles of memorials changed over time? Do all memorials seem fitting to the event? Do they feel the USS Arizona Memorial is appropriate for its purpose?
The Rockets' Red Glare": Francis Scott Key and the Bombardment of Fort McHenry (137)
• "Debating the War of 1812:" Hold a whole class discussion on the question, “Was the War of 1812 a good thing or a bad thing for America?”
• "The Theme of Our Nation:" Have the whole class discuss the ideals associated with "The Star-Spangled Banner and situations where the nation has not lived up to those ideals. Then ask the students what they think the ideals of the nation should be.
• "Whose "Star-Spangled Banner"?:" Ask the whole class to evaluate performances of the "The Star-Spangled Banner and to come up with guidelines for how the national anthem should be performed.
Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site: Home of a Gilded Age Icon (48)
"Artist and Client:" Have students pair up (one student an artist and the other a client) and act out the process to reach a final artistic product. At the end, hold a full class discussion about the pros and cons of the artist-client relationship. Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
San Antonio Missions: Spanish Influence in Texas (2)
"Comparing Spanish and English Colonial Policy:" Have students use a U.S. history textbook to compare Spanish and English approaches of colonization; then hold a classroom discussion in which students debate the pros and cons of each country's policies.
"Researching the Community:" Have students research their community to discover which religious groups were among the first settlers, and then compare their community's experience with that of San Antonio. Ask students to also compare the architectural styles of different religious buildings, and hold a classroom discussion based on the results of the student's research.
Saratoga: The Tide Turns on the Frontier (93)
"A Council of War:" In groups, have students assume the roles of a general and his officers preparing for a battle during the Revolutionary War, this “council of war” will have to come to a decision about how they should proceed. Students should discuss the advantages of having a council of war and whether this 18th-century decision-making model still works today.
Saugus Iron Works: Life and Work at an Early American Industrial Site (30)
"Archeology:" In groups, have students choose an object they think would reveal something interesting about our culture to future archeologists. Have the class discuss each artifact, and have them think about what they learned from trying to figure out the artifacts’ use.
"Researching Industries in the Local Community:" Have students research and visit sites in their community to discover what elements of its early growth were alike from the development of the Saugus Iron Works and the settlement of Hammersmith. Students should discuss the history of the economic base of the town and write a short paper describing an industry they would like to promote.
Separate But Equal? South Carolina's Fight Over School Segregation (158)
• "Desegregating the U.S.: The Lawsuits of Brown v. Board of Education:" Students will learn about the lawsuits combined in Brown v. Board of Education and work in groups to create a poster series exhibit about the lawsuits that led to the 1954 decision. Afterward, lead your students in a class discussion with guests who experienced segregation first-hand.
The Shields-Ethridge Farm: The End of a Way of Life (145)
• "The Slow Revolution:" Ask students to imagine they are Ira Ethridge and from that point of view they must write a diary entry using two "diary" topics: "My Victories" and "My Regrets." After students complete the assignment, ask for volunteers to read their "diaries" to the class and then hold a class discussion about their lists.
• "Sharecroppers: Farmers without Land:" Ask students to develop research questions to investigate the sharecropping system generally and also how it was practiced on the Shields-Ethridge Farm. Then, ask students to research sharecropping in the South and write a report placing sharecropping at Shields-Ethridge Farm within the larger context. Facilitate a class discussion about their findings.
The Siege and Battle of Corinth: A New Kind of War (113)
"How to Fight a Battle:" Hold a class discussion asking students to imagine they are advisors to a Confederate general as he moves towards Corinth. They are to give their opinions on whether they should attack based on mobility and surprise or entrenched defenses and control strategic positions.
The Siege of Port Hudson: "Forty Days and Nights in the Wilderness of Death" (71)
"Your Community Under Attack:" Have students determine if their community has ever suffered from warfare, natural disasters, or social pressures. Students should prepare a "historic marker" that documents the incident and display it for general class discussion.
The Spanish Treasure Fleets of 1715 and 1733: Disasters Strike at Sea (129)
"A Global Economy:" Have students discuss how global trade can affect our daily lives.
La versión en español Las flotas españolas de 1715 y 1733: Desastres en el mar (134)
Thaw in the Cold War: Eisenhower and Khrushchev at Gettysburg (29)
"Researching Why Eisenhower Never Visited the Soviet Union:" In groups, have students research and debate the importance of the 1960 U-2 crash in the Soviet Union. Following a discussion on turning points in history, ask students to decide what they think might have happened if the U-2 incident had not occurred.
"International Diplomacy:" Have the class name some events from the 1960s to the present that involved international diplomacy, and have groups of students research one of those events. For each event, hold a debate on which party the class believes was most "right" in their views.
Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site: Birthplace of the Modern Presidency (77)
"A Snapshot of History:" For a month have students follow a national event by clipping articles out of the newspaper. Also, each day have them clip an article on an interesting local story. Have them paste the articles in a notebook and write a sentence or two of what happened in their lives that day. At the end have the class discuss their brief "snapshot" of their nation, community, and family.
These Honored Dead: The Battle of Rivers Bridge and Civil War Combat Casualties (94)
"Your Account of a Civil War Battle:" After reviewing the readings, have students write two brief personal accounts on being a casualty or seeing a comrade become a casualty: one as a letter to a family member shortly after the battle and the other as an account of the same event as the memoir of an old soldier looking back many years later. Have students read their accounts in class and discuss their differences and why they wrote them that way.
Thomas Jefferson's Plan for the University of Virginia: Lessons from the Lawn (92)
"A Village for Learning:" Have the class discuss the University of Virginia as an Academic Village.
Thurmond: A Town Born from Coal Mines and Railroads (28)
"Role Play:" In groups of five or six, have students pretend they are railroad workers who will act out three scenarios. The class should discuss the complexity of running a train yard that was busy 24 hours a day.
"Recognizing Others:" Have the class discuss the suitability of using ballads to memorialize a particular hero.
The Trail of Tears and the Forced Relocation of the Cherokee Nation (118)
"Accommodate or Resist?:" Have the class discuss the effects of the Cherokees adopting aspects of white culture.
"American Indian Treaties in the Community:" Have students locate and identify American Indian tribes that were present at the time of white settlement of their region. Then have them search to see if any treaty agreements between the tribes and the U.S. were made. Have students present their findings to the class for discussion on how their research compares with that of the Cherokee experience.
Learn how a classroom teacher uses this lesson.
Ulysses S. Grant and Julia Dent Grant at White Haven Farm: The Missouri Compromise in American Life (154)
"Experiences of Americans' Enslavement:" Have student groups each research the experience of slavery in a different state to compare and contrast it with the experience at White Haven in Missouri. Students should share their findings in a class discussion about why these experiences varied, facilitated by the teacher.
The United States Air Force Academy: Founding a Proud Tradition (114)
"The Cold War Era in the Local Community:" Ask students to interview residents who lived in their community during the early Cold War era (late 1940s-1950s). Students should present their findings in an oral report and participate in a class discussion comparing the various experiences of the interviewees.
Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site: Monument to the Gilded Age (78)
"How the Other Half Lived:" Following group research, have the class discuss the differences between the lifestyles of the wealthy and the average citizen during the Gilded Age.
"Philanthropy in the Local Community:" Have the class discuss the concept of philanthropy.
The Vieux Carré: A Creole Neighborhood in New Orleans (20)
"Architectural Change, Cultural Interaction:" Have the class discuss how American style of architecture affected the Creole character of Vieux Carré. Ask students to discuss what happens when two different cultural groups live side by side, and have them think about the history of their community.
The War Relocation Centers of World War II: When Fear Was Stronger than Justice (89)
"The Rights of Citizens:" Have students prepare a list of the rights a citizen has that the Constitution and Bill of Rights protects. Have students compare their lists and discuss whether there are any circumstances when unconstitutional behavior by the government can be justified.
The Washington Monument: Tribute in Stone (62)
"Qualities of a Leader:" Students should discuss if the Washington Monument reflects any of Washington’s admirable qualities.
Waterford, Virginia: From Mill Town to National Historic Landmark (88)
"Waterford, Then and Now:" Ask students to list the things they would find in Waterford in 1850, and create another list for the present day town. Have them point out what the two lists have in common and how the number of shared things indicates how much or how little Waterford has changed over time.
Weir Farm: Home of an American Impressionist (22)
"Art in Your Community:" Have students research local artists who depict their region’s landscape. Invite an expert to discuss and show slides of different styles of art popular in the area, and arrange a field trip to a gallery or museum. Have students present their artist(s) and discuss what is artistically unique about their region and how the artists were inspired by that uniqueness.
Wheat Farms, Flour Mills, and Railroads: A Web of Interdependence (106)
"Reactions of Interdependence:" In groups, have students research the history of one of the following topics: anti-trust legislation, the muckrakers and their denunciations of big business, the Grange movement, or Populism. Have the class discuss these topics and compare the benefits of business concentration and railroad domination with the problems they created.
When Rice Was King (3)
"Laying Out a Plantation:" Ask students to draw a sketch map showing how they would have laid out a plantation if they had been an architect and landscape designer in the 18th century. They should compare their sketches and discuss the similarities and differences.
"Interviewing Plantation Residents:" In groups of three, have one student pretend to be a newspaper reporter from a northern city interviewing people living on a plantation, and the other two students act as children living on the plantation. As a class discuss if the students came up with similar kinds of details.
"Researching the Contribution of Different Cultures:" Have students determine what ethnic/religious groups settled in their community, and in teams research one of the groups. Have each team report back on what they learned, and discuss the similarities of the ethnic/religious groups and the amount of influence they have today.
A Woman's Place Is In the Sewall-Belmont House: Alice Paul and Women's Rights (148)
• "Beyond the Voting Booth:" Invite a local government official to visit your class and speak to students about civic engagement. Hold a class discussion about what methods they think works best. Have each student choose a political issue to research, engage with outside of school, and then write a persuasive letter to a politician who they think can help them.
Woodrow Wilson: Prophet of Peace (14)
"Public Speaking:" Using Wilson's radio address as a model, ask groups of students to write and present a brief radio address that will persuade the nation to return to the ideal of world peace. Have one member of each group present the talk to the class, and have the class discuss the points made in the speeches.
"Current Events and Wilson’s Peace:" Ask students to look through current newspaper and magazine articles to identify and summarize articles that show either the success or failure of international peace in the modern world. Have students discuss the consequences of upholding or ignoring Wilson's ideal of world peace.
Wright Brothers National Memorial: Site of the First Controlled Powered Flight (109)
"Designing a Glider:" Have groups of students design and build a small glider they will conduct flying experiments on to determine which designs are successful, each group should explain the aerodynamic principles used in their design, and as a class discuss the possible reasons for their glider's success or failure.
"The Impact of Airplanes:" In groups, have students research the role airplanes had in: World War I, World War II, Commerce and Industry, or Passenger Transportation during the first half of the 20th century. After each group has presented its findings in an oral or written report, have the class discuss the worldwide impact of the Wright brothers' accomplishments.
Ybor City: Cigar Capital of the World (51)
"The Immigrant Experience:" Have each students write a paper describing how Cuban immigrants fit the pattern of immigrants entering the U.S. between 1880 and the early 1900s, and how they differed. Have the class discuss how the Cubans of Ybor City fit into the broader theme of large-scale immigration to America during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
"Local Community History:" In three groups, have students research aspects of their community's history and summarize their findings. Discuss the similarities and differences between the history of their community and Ybor City.
Lightning Lessons
• "The First Draft of History: News Reporting and the Historian's Challenge:" First, provide students with a copy of the primary sources below. Ask them to identify similarities and differences in the two accounts published in leading African American publications, the Cleveland Advocate and the nationally-read paper, The Crisis. Then, guide a class discussion to go over their observations or have students write down their compare/contrast observations as lists.
Discover the Mary Ann Shadd Cary House (Lightning Lesson 1)
• "From the Newspaper to the Podium :" Have students identify an injustice and then write a persuasive essay to inspire members of the student body to unite against the injustice. Next, ask students to prepare a short speech based on their essays. Engage them in a class discussion about the difference between the two approaches to persuasive arguments.
 

Experience More