Thursday, February 18, 2016

Using Primary Sources with Elementary Students

The post "Kindergarten Historians: Primary Sources in an Early Elementary Classroom" reminded me that, when done right, primary sources can be powerful tools to bring history alive in early elementary classrooms.

The caveat, of course, is "done right." The Library of Congress's TPS Quarterly offers a list of hints for choosing appropriate sources for elementary students here.

We have a few lesson plans aimed at younger students (K-3) on our website. Linda Oesterle, who attended our weeklong, NEH-funded workshop on mining, "The Richest Hills," in 2011, created the kindergarten lesson plan "Long Ago and Today," in which students examine photographs of the past and present to compare today and long ago. (See more lesson plans created by Richest Hills scholars here and learn more about NEH summer workshops for teachers here--deadline to apply is March 1.)

"The Art of Storytelling: Plains Indian Perspectives" includes art/IEFA lesson plans on winter counts and ledger art for grades K-3 and 4-6 (and 7-12, too). Packets with these lesson plans were sent to every Montana public school library in 2012--and are also available on our website.

Montana's Charlie Russell also includes lessons for all ages. Particularly, we've heard rave reviews from a Bozeman first grade teacher about her students' response to "An Artist's Journey: Transform Paintings to Poetry." (This packet was also sent to all Montana public school libraries and is also available to download from our website--but we also have copies to send to interested classroom teachers. So if you want one send a request (along with your snail mail address) to mhseducation@mt.gov.

Although they are designed for fourth grade, I know several 1st-3rd grade teachers who use of our hands-on history footlockers. Focusing on a range of topics, footlockers are filled with reproductions of clothing, tools, everyday objects, maps, and photographs. They are available to Montana educators for two weeks at a time. No rental fee is charged for the use of footlockers. However, schools are responsible for the cost of shipping the footlocker to the next venue.

K-3 teachers: Do you use primary sources in your classroom? If you have tips (or cautions), send them along and I'll share them!

P.S. Billings librarian Ruth Ferris just alerted me to an app that lets converts a picture of sheet music (for example, from the Library of Congress's sheet music collection) into something your Ipad can recognize and play (though not perfectly). This seems to me as if it could be a great tool to help your students "time travel"--and has potential for both elementary and upper grades.  More here.

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