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Primary Source Lesson Plan for Elementary School

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Teach your students how to read and utilize primary sources with this lesson plan. Students will read a text lesson that explains what primary sources are, explore types and explain their uses in through hands-on work.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define 'primary source'
  • share and identify primary sources
  • explain the use of primary sources

Length

  • 1 hour for the lesson
  • about a week for the activity

Materials

  • Copies of the lesson Primary Sources: Lesson for Kids, one for each student
  • Boxes
  • Collection of primary source materials for each category (diaries/journal/letters, images, documents, recordings, autobiographies, objects) placed in a box; one box for each small group

Key Vocabulary

  • Primary source
  • Historian
  • Autobiography

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.7

Draw on information from multiple print or digital sources, demonstrating the ability to locate an answer to a question quickly or to solve a problem efficiently.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.3

Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.4

Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 5 topic or subject area.

Preparation

  • To create your primary source box, collect primary sources as follows:
    • Diaries/journal/letters, images, documents, autobiographies; download and print from internet, or use books and magazines
    • Recordings - if possible, stock boxes with digital recordings; consider playing one for the whole class during this section as an option
    • Objects - use objects from around home or the classroom, such as a scarf, pencil, etc.
  • Place all items in boxes.

Warm-Up

  • Divide students into small groups and give each a primary source box, telling them not to open it yet.
  • Have students think of a story they know about their family, such as an ancestor who came from Ireland or a parent who won an important award.
  • Tell students to briefly share their story with their group, then ask:
    • How do you know this event happened?
    • What things prove this story is true?
  • Ask students to consider how we know events in the past really happened, then discuss as a class.

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