Farm'ers Market

spaceInformation: Primary Sources

Primary sources can be exciting resources for learning when students are able to make personal connections to the contents of these materials. The key is building meaningful applications. Seek out photographs and other materials that contain the experiences of children.

Think about all the ways you can bring history alive through primary source documents. Students need to be able to analyze historical documents. Start with Explore and adapt the analysis worksheets from NARA (NARA Worksheets (PDF files): Artifact, Cartoon, Document, Map, Photograph, Poster, Sound). Create an Analysis Worksheet for your grade level. Then, create your own PowerPoint-based tool. If you need ideas, use the web evaluation project for inspiration.

Think about ways that learners could use bubbles for identifying parts of primary documents. Search the National Archives for particular treaties, papers, and other well-known documents. Also, search Marcopolo/Thinkfinity for a particular document and you'll find lesson ideas and links to primary sources.

Go to Kids-Learn Elementary and Middle School for ideas on document-based questions.

History Starter

columnsMany social studies standards ask students to compare sources, documents, or perspectives. Use tools such as Inspiration or PowerPoint starters to provide space for students to make comparisons and draw conclusions. For example, ask students to compare two historical documents, letters, diary entries, or other original documents.

Download and explore the Sources (PPT). This project contains two columns for student to write and make comparisons about an historical event or topic.

What They Carried

Let's use the example of the topic - What They Carried. This topic could be applied throughout history whether talking about what people carried on the Trail of Tears or the Oregon Trail.

suitcaseConnect to your personal possessions. What do you carry on a trip? Why? What would you save in a disaster? What would you leave behind in a time of war? Think about all the situations where people carry things through history:

Download and explore What They Carried Starter: Backpacks and Suitcases (PPT) and Carts (PPT). Select one of the backpacks, suitcases, or carts to use as the basis for a 1-3 slide student activity. Use the Hoursehold Objects section of the Historical website for historical artifacts.


Go to the Word, Picture, & Sounds page. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for lots of book ideas and online primary documents. Create your own PowerPoint Sidekick.

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