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5th Grade Heritage Project Ideas

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

Heritage projects can be entertaining and enriching for many students. These project ideas will give you several options for bringing this concept into your late-elementary classroom.

Heritage Projects For Late Elementary School

By the time students are in late elementary school, they have a grasp on history, geography, and their own sense of self. All of these can be combined in heritage projects that ask students to consider how the past impacts the present (including their personal experiences and identities). The following projects are designed for 5th grade, but are adaptable to the needs of your specific students. Please remember that heritage projects are not easy for all students, and may bring up issues of diasporas and forced migrations that you may need to address.

Heritage Project Ideas

Family History

Students will begin by conducting family history research. They will interview several available family members to learn about their family history, including culture/national/ethnic backgrounds, important events, and important symbols or ideas. Students should be encouraged to draft their interview questions before conducting their interviews.

With this knowledge of their family history, you can ask students to complete one (or all) of the following:

Create a Coat of Arms

Students will examine their family history and think about symbols that could represent their family experiences and identity. They will create a coat of arms for their family containing these symbols.

Map the Family History

Using a large map, students will physically map out family migrations and movements, using dots and lines to show where people came from and where they went. Students should strive to approximate the dates of each migration and, if possible, attach the names of the family members who migrated.

Research Countries

Students will conduct a research project to learn about all the countries that are part of their heritage (including the one in which they currently reside). They will create a poster containing images of elements of each culture (foods, festivals, clothing items, etc.) that they feel are still relevant to their family and identity today. Their poster should also include a basic self-portrait, placing their own image among these other objects.

Living Heritage

Students will begin by interviewing family members to learn about their family history. Ultimately, students will select one member from their family history whom they find particularly inspiring or interesting. Students will try to learn as much about this family member (and the time they lived in) as they can.

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