Intro Historical Thinking Skills - Elementary

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Written by Cathy Morgan and Holly Young

Essential Questions for students (objectives):  How does analyzing a primary source document help us understand historical events/time periods?

Supplies: Portrait Handout with questions attached

Grades: 3-6 Historical Thinking Skills – Analyzing a Primary Source

Time needed: 80 minutes
Instructional Format:  cooperative groups, class discussion

Vocabulary for a Word Wall: Primary source

Step by Step Lesson Description:

1)       Set the stage:  Ask students to write down what they know about George Washington and how they know about it.

2)      Give the students the Portrait Handout with accompanying questions that focus on observing, reflecting, and questions.  Have students work in small groups to answer the questions which they can write in a journal or as a group write.

3)      Discuss as a class if the portrait and close review changed their view or added to their knowledge of George Washington.  Discuss with the class of a primary source and that can be paintings.  Ask the students, why they are paintings?  What are the drawbacks of analyzing paintings?

4)      Read Help Wanted at Mount Vernon by Holly Young and Cathy Morgan.   Ask students to note when they are listening to the book to listen for places where they may change their opinion of George Washington or add to what they already knew or learned from the painting.

5)      Students discuss their new findings from the book with their group members and then discuss as a class.   If any questions about the book are generated by the students, you can check here for information About Help Wanted at Mount Vernon.

6)      Ask students to discuss or write about the answer to the lesson’s essential question:  How does analyzing a primary source document help us understand historical events/time periods?

Extension:  Compare/contrast the opinion of George Washington from the perspective of the painter and the opinion of George Washington from the authors of Help Wanted.  Use evidence from your discussions and from each source to prove your point.

Attached worksheets or documents:  Portrait handout with questions attached