Primary and Secondary Sources Teacher Resources
Find Primary and Secondary Sources educational ideas and activities
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Fourth graders examine primary sources about the Civil War. In this Civil War lesson plan, 4th graders look at images related to the Civil War then sort and label them into groups. They create an ABC book project about Virginia history.
Show your class the difference between primary sources and secondary sources. The first page provides a list of examples of each type of source. While they research, pupils can refer back to the list quickly to make sure they are reading the type of source they mean to be. The remainder of the document focuses on where to find primary sources and lists some examples.
Students examine methods of accounting for historical events. In this local history lesson plan, students use primary sources to explore the story of a tenement house family in New York. Students discuss the sources they encounter as they piece together their local history.
Explore primary and secondary sources in this historical analysis lesson. Young researchers define the terms primary source and secondary source. They read a primary source document provided by the teacher and answer questions about the information contained in the article. Then they comment on the reliability of this information based on prior historical knowledge.
Distinguish between primary and secondary source documents using the theme of philanthropy. Middle schoolers discuss Anne Frank: The Diary of Young Girl as a way to study the past using a primary source. Then they investigate how to leave accurate records for others to explore in the future. Consider having them write a set of autobiographical stories to pass on to their families.
Students identify legends in Tennessee and U.S. history, and differentiate between primary and secondary sources. They list examples of primary and secondary sources, participate in a field trip to the Country Music Hall of Fame, and identify primary and secondary sources at the museum.
Research history and human rights using primary sources. After defining primary and secondary sources, young researchers work in groups to study both types of sources. They define types of societies represented in The Diary of Anne Frank and examples of altruism in the source. Afterwards, they complete the "Your History" worksheet.
Learners examine the use of primary sources. They read and discuss excerpts from the "Diary of Anne Frank," write journal entries, identify examples of altruism from the book, write an essay, and complete a worksheet.
Young scholars sort documents into primary and secondary sources and analyze their reliability. In this history research lesson, the teacher gathers a selection of document images, then discusses primary and secondary sources and their benefits.
Analyzing primary and secondary sources is a necessary skill for students to attain, and can be learned through interesting activities.
Learners assess the information contained in primary and secondary sources and discuss the differences between them. They examine the diary of a World War I soldier with a textbook account to determine the validity of each. As a learning game, teams of students draw short descriptions of sources and determine if they are primary or secondary source types.
Students research the events surrounding the Alamo in 1863, and explore the differences between primary and secondary sources of information. They brainstorm lists of items used to research a subject and categorize them as primary or secondary sources.
Fourth graders distinguish between primary and secondary sources while creating an underground railroad presentation. In this underground railroad lesson, 4th graders research the underground railroad using copies of primary and secondary documents. Students present their findings and answer questions about the sources of their material.
Students examine methods of accounting for historical events. In this local history lesson, students use primary and secondary sources to explore the ties between Essex County in Massachusetts and the California Gold Rush of the 1840's. Students discuss the sources they encounter as they explore their local history.
Seventh graders explore photographs as a primary source. In this social studies lesson, 7th graders describe what they see in historical photographs. Students utilize primary sources to study a historic event.
Students research narratives from the Federal Writers' Project and describe the lives of former slaves in the U.S. In this slave narratives lesson, students interpret primary source oral history documents and summarize narrative of former slaves. Students compare and contrast life during slavery.
Young scholars examine primary sources. In this primary source lesson, students explore the impact of personal experience and perspective as they read assigned articles and share their impressions of the article with others in a blogging activity.
First person accounts, while a gold mine of historical information, are biased. Model for your classes how to uncover the bias in these primary source documents and how to use multiple documents to gather a more complete picture of events. High-tech and low-tech options are available for collecting information gathered by class groups who examine primary source documents written by persons affected by the construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Complete directions for the activity and links to the documents are included in the packet.
The challenge of analyzing primary sources is addressed by a detailed plan from Inspiration Software. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” is used to model how the primary source analysis template can aid in creating an analysis of documents. Adaptations and extensions are included, as are the original and model templates.
Primary sources provide historians glimpses into the past; organize findings visually using this lesson demonstrating the educational program, Inspiration. While this lesson is useful independently, it is intended to guide learners through the program. Screenshots show the tool as you walk scholars through a source analysis template. They can add links, images, and text. Original worksheets are available to print form the link in step two; these could make an entire less on their own!