Lesson Plans

Primary Sources and Me

In this lesson geared towards kindergartners, students analyze primary sources to understand what primary sources are and how they help to tell the story of each unique member of a community.

LEARN MORE about Primary Sources and Me

I’m More Than You See

Students learn about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and use primary sources to cement their understanding. Then they reflect on the identities of others and how people’s basic needs affect their own stages of needs on the road to achieving their full potential. After, students will work in small groups to discuss how understanding these different levels of needs could help people in their school or local community reach their full potential. Then they create a poster with examples from their discussions, illustrating people at each level on the road to self-fulfillment.

LEARN MORE about I’m More Than You See

A New National Anthem

Students analyze the lyrics of the Star Spangled Banner, then investigate how a 1991 musical rendition of the song by Whitney Houston and a poem by Ada Limón provide them with deeper insights and understanding of the U.S. National Anthem. After, students create a new version of the national anthem by either creating an erasure poem from the lyrics or writing a response to Limón’s poem or the original anthem.

LEARN MORE about A New National Anthem

Immigration: Our Changing Voices

Students analyze primary sources to identify issues involved with the migration of a community or family and examine the traditional picture of immigration. After, students investigate their own family history and put it into the context of immigrant stories.

LEARN MORE about Immigration: Our Changing Voices

Family Customs Past and Present: Exploring Cultural Rituals

Students analyze primary sources to investigate rituals and customs of various cultures, then interview family members to deepen their understanding of their own cultural celebrations.

LEARN MORE about Family Customs Past and Present: Exploring Cultural Rituals

American Lives Across the Centuries: What Is an American?

Students will use the words of Jean de Crèvecoeur in his 1782 work, Letters from an American Farmer, to guide them as they analyze a life history documented by the Works Progress Administration from 1936-1940, using their analyses to create a patchwork of biographies. After, students consider what it means to be an American today and reflect on how the definition of being American has changed over time.

LEARN MORE about American Lives Across the Centuries: What Is an American?

The American Dream

Students analyze, interpret, and conduct research with digitized primary source documents to define, present and defend their ideas about what the American Dream has been in different times. After, students consider their own American Dream – for themselves, their families and loved ones, their community, their nation and the world.

LEARN MORE about The American Dream

African American Identity in the Gilded Age: Two Unreconciled Strivings

Students explore their personal identities, then analyze primary sources to examine the tension experienced by African Americans as they struggled to establish a vibrant and meaningful identity based on the promises of liberty and equality in the midst of a society that was ambivalent towards them and sought to impose an inferior definition upon them. After, students choose a subject from one primary source and bring this speaker into the present to talk with the class about his or her observation of today's world compared with his or her own.

LEARN MORE about African American Identity in the Gilded Age: Two Unreconciled Strivings