What teacher doesn’t know the struggle of teaching history? Many students have the perception that history is a dry subject filled with disembodied names, old dates, and confusing events. They think that history has no relevance for them and that they don’t really have to learn it. Little could be further from the truth! As an educator, you understand the importance of knowing history. After all, those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.
Armed with the right lesson plans and resources, you can help your students recognize that history is a dynamic, exciting, and incredibly important subject. You have the power to transform the way that children see the past.
Citizenship, Government, and Civics
- Citizenship: What does it mean to be a good citizen? How can you help your community by being a good citizen? Discussion questions, classroom activities, and recommended readings help students understand what citizenship means.
- The Declaration of Independence: Through role-playing and creative writing, students in third through fifth grade learn the motivations behind this essential American document.
- The U.S. Constitution: From a matching game for kindergartners to guided readings of the document for fifth- and sixth-graders, this page has resources for any grade.
- From a Bill to a Law: Introduce students to the roles that senators and representatives play and the legislative process. The lesson plan includes activities that give students the opportunity to more deeply explore how bills become laws.
- We the Civics Kids: Each month, the National Constitution Center releases a list of recommended readings, lesson plans, and activities to engage students in their roles as citizens.
- Age of Exploration and Encounter: Appropriate for use with students as young as grade 3, in this lesson, students meet explorers from all over Europe who paved the way for colonial growth in America. The page includes links to PBS resources and relevant handouts.
- Life in the Plymouth Colony: Personalize the Pilgrim experience from the Old World to the New World by inviting students to pack a Pilgrim’s trunk and “travel” to America themselves while you teach about who the Pilgrims were, what they wanted, and what they did.
- The American Revolution: Causes: A fun lesson designed around a whimsical poem teaches students about the reasons why the colonists rebelled against Britain.
- American Revolution: The War: Learn about the American Revolution through simple document analysis centered on the lives of the men who fought in it. This lesson is suitable for all grades.
- The Founding Fathers: A research activity on the Founding Fathers provides a perfect springboard for teaching the contributions of early Americans to the founding of the nation.
Modern American and World History
- Slavery in America: Before teaching the Civil War, consider dedicating a few lessons to the role of slavery in America. Use an informational video, available online, as the cornerstone for the lesson, and enhance the lesson with handouts and discussion questions.
- The Civil War: Nine complete lesson plans show students the many facets of this bloody war, from the causes for disunity to its long-lasting effects.
- The Great Depression: A series of lessons fosters historical empathy and understanding in students as they learn about the tragedies of the Great Depression and the people from all walks of life who were affected.
- Animals in World War I: World War I can be a difficult event to discuss with younger students. Try teaching about it through the eyes of animals, studying the roles that various animals played on the battlefield.
- World War II: Using eyewitness accounts of four major events of the war, students become familiar with the causes, survivors, and effects of WWII. Daily journaling and other assignments further cement the material.
- What Is Culture? Teach students what makes a culture and how a culture develops, then encourage them to explore cultures different from their own.
- International Holidays: Various activities, including a holiday treasure hunt and creating a greeting card, expand students’ international horizons in this unit that discusses holidays around the world.
- Hellos Heard Around the World: Designed for lower elementary grades, students learn that not everyone speaks the same language as they do and how to greet someone in five different languages.
- Passport to the World: Help students design a passport to use for a unit on the continents.
- Our Food, Our World: These lessons use the example of two children, one from India and one from Mexico, to show students what kids like them eat in other parts of the world.