Live History: A Creative Project

by S. Parbhoo

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Teachers, you all know that teaching history can be a challenge. After all, with Facebook and reality TV in kids’ lives, history just seems so…yesterday! Nothing can bore a kid faster than the idea of textbooks, note-taking and unit tests. But, there is a better way!

Here is a research project that will not only foster kids’ creativity, but will also put them into the driver’s seat of their own learning about the past. It’s called the Multigenre Research Project, and while I designed it for Middle School, it could easily be adapted for upper elementary or high school, as well. Here are the steps to complete the project:

Read a Historical Novel or Biography

Students should choose a book that is set in the historical period that the project should cover (as decided by you, the teacher). Both historical fiction and biographies cover “real life” historical issues that people lived through. It’s important that kids begin their historical journey by walking in someone else’s shoes; they’ll need that perspective later in the project.

Choose a Topic

After reading, kids should choose an important topic or social issue covered in their book: What important facts jumped out? What struggles did the main character go through? For example, was the book about children during the Civil War? Was the book about soldiers who fought during the Revolutionary war? Keep the topic narrow.

Explore the Past

Now is the time to find out all there is to know about the topic. Use the Internet to find articles, videos and pictures about the topic. The more knowledge kids have about their chosen idea, the better they will do in the next step.

Become a Historical Character

Here comes the really fun part! Let kids jump into the time machine of their own minds and create four to five creative original pieces. Kids should write (or draw or sing or act) from the point of view of someone in their historical era. Some ideas for them to think about:

• Write a poem or short story as an historical character

• Create a timeline of the era

• Record a video or original song as a character from the era

• Create an original magazine from the era

• Write a letter to a prominent figure of the era

• Draw a picture of a historical person from the era

Package It Up

Finally, kids will package up their work in a super creative way that fits the topic. For example, if the project was on American Soldiers during World War II, creatively package the pieces in a knapsack or backpack. If the topic was on families during the Great Depression, kids can frame drawings, poems and letters like family portraits on a display board. And Marie Antoinette findings, for example, could be fittingly collected in a jewelry box (or cake box!). The ideas are as endless as a student’s imagination!

 

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4 Comments

Filed under Academic Success, Activities, creative writing, History, Reading, Teacher Inspiration, technology, Writing

4 responses to “Live History: A Creative Project

  1. I really like the “package it up” section, it almost reminds me of a time capsule. What a fun way to let your child review before a test, or to look over your student’s growth at the end of the year!

  2. What a Great Project!!!! I am definitely going to be doing this project this year. It is sad but true, kids today are all about the social networking and seeing what they can get in the “now” they are clueless about the past and how the past adventures, inventions etc have made what they have and want “now” possible. Thank you so much for sharing this AWESOME project!!!!
    Have a Great Day!!!!

  3. Kay Wallin

    I did something similar in a lesson plan for 5th graders when we studied the Civil War and Reconstruction. I had them write an essay where they pretended to be someone from that era. In the second part of the assignment, they were to do a scrapbook from that character’s perspective that included aspects of their character’s life before, during, and after the Civil War.

  4. Peggy Hernandez

    Great Idea. I love the Package It Up idea as well. I teach 2nd grade and we study Jimmy Carter, Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King, and other Ga legends. I will definitely use these ideas. I like giving children choice, so there are a lot of great ideas for them to choose from. Thanks!