History's Big Questions

Lecture Notes

Name Description PowerPoint Video
Why History?In this fun and highly interactive presentation students are introduced to why we study history. PPTx

What is History (old)


1. In the Clouds - Students are introduced to the continents by imagining them as clouds in the sky to help create memory hooks.

2. World Map Scavenger Hunt - A further introduction to geography this time including countries and landforms. Students hunt for various oddities using the world map.

3. Be the Historian - In this closing lab for the unit students in groups are given an old artifact and must analyze it in great depth as a historian might.

4. Million Words - Not historical really, just a simple introduction activity for parents to complete. I love this.

5. History Skills - An introduction to the 8 skills used by historians to be effective at their tasks.

6. World Map Sheet - If you ever want to have kids fill in a world map (I did it once, I felt awful) here you go.

7. Butter Battle Book Questions - A set of questions to go along with The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss. I use this book to show that history can be found everywhere.

8. One-Day Geography - Adapted from a PBS lesson on understanding the basics of geography. 

9. Who are You? - A basic inventory of student interests and background.

10. Source Reliability - A series of topics with two sources of possible information. Students decide which source would be more reliable given the topic. Excellent for introducing Common Core skills.

11. When of History - Students speculate on the timing of various events and objects from history. Print out of each of the images in the lab and group them by type (all military pictures together for example.) Put students into 6 groups and give each the worksheet. Given them 3-4 minutes per pack to determine in which historical era each object goes. I put a number code on the back of each picture so students can just write that in the box on the worksheet. The codes really don't matter but here's the ones I use. I go through this presentation with the students after going over the answers with them.

12. What Historians Do (Collect) - A series of mini-activities introducing some of the skills students will use when collecting information as historians.

13. What Historians Do (Consider) - A series of mini-activities introducing some of the skills students will use when investigating information as historians.

14: What Historians Do (Communicate) - A series of mini-activities introducing some of the skills students will use when, you guess it, communication information as historians.

Media Guide
(These are the movies, books and music I use in this unit.)

The Lion King

DVDThis movie includes arguably the greatest three minute clip you'll ever find. About half way through it Rafiki meets up with grown up Simba. They discuss the importance of the past with Rafiki saying "You can either run from it, or learn from it." Beautiful.

The Simpsons: Season 7

DVDApart from being arguably the best Simpsons season ever this season has a number of historical references. I use a short clip from the episode "Two Bad Neighbors" where Grandpa talks about Grover Cleveland using a joke that I didn't get for YEARS (he spanked him on two non-consecutive occasions!) I explain the joke to the kids and argue that knowing history actually makes you appreciate culture more because you get more jokes.

Ice Age

WebThere is a two minute trailer/cartoon that introduced this movie originally in theaters. It has Scrat (the rat thing) chasing a lone acorn. In doing so he causes massive changes in the landscape. I use this to show how little decisions can change the flow of history. This link quality is pretty bad but the best I've found so far. The trailer is also on the original DVD.

Anberlin "Change the World" 

SongThe chorus of this song explores the idea of changing history. I close this unit pointing out to my students that history is the one subject they can directly change any given day. This helps drive home how relevant history truly is.

The Butter Battle Book

BookDr. Suess book that is an allegory on the Cold War. I read this to my kids and have them speculate as to how it applies to history. I then briefly explain the Cold War. This helps drive home the point that history is all around us.