These lesson plans include those developed by the staff of KSHS and other Kansas teachers. All of these lesson plans emphasize the use of primary source materials, most of which are from the collections of the Kansas Historical Society and can be found in Kansas Memory. The Read Kansas! lessons are also linked from this page.
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Primary lessons (K-3rd grades)
Read Kansas! primary lessons (K-3rd grades)
Chase County Courthouse (3rd grade) by Carrie Riggs, Chase County Elementary, USD 284, Strong City, KS. Developed during the Library of Congress/KSHS Workshop 2011. This lesson is designed specifically to introduce students to the Chase County Courthouse, but can be used as a model to help students identify and understand why a site is a landmark in any area. Students will read expository text looking for main idea and supporting details. They will use a graphic organizer to compile these details. The students will then use this graphic organizer to write a summary of the text. This lesson includes a field trip to the Chase County Courthouse and is designed to take three class periods.
A Famous Kansan and a Famous American (1st grade) by Audra Gragg, Rochester Elementary, USD 345, Topeka. Developed during the Library of Congress/KSHS Workshop, 2012. This lesson will introduce the children to one famous Kansan and one famous American. Both of them struggled with segregation and used nonviolent means to help end some of the injustice both in Kansas and America. The students will also learn to use primary and secondary sources to compare and contrast these two people. It can be completed in two class periods.
Life Then and Now
I Need Technology in Kansas (Kindergarten) by Amy Dobbins, Whittier Elementary, USD 500, Kansas City. Developed during the Library of Congress Midwest Region/KSHS Workshop 2011. This lesson helps students identify technology in the past from primary source photographs, discuss how it compares to the present and explain how it meets or met people’s needs. Students will also identify a technology in the present which helps fulfill one of the categories of human needs. They will then draw an original picture and explain how this technology makes life better.
Kansas Weather (1st grade) by Elizabeth Weber, Irving Primary Center, USD 365, Garnett. Developed during the Library of Congress Midwest Region/KSHS Workshop 2011.The purpose of this lesson is to teach students about the different weather that occurs in Kansas. The lesson will show students pictures of past weather events in Kansas. It will also have students make observations about the current Kansas weather. The lesson is divided into five sections that can be taught over the course of five or more days.
Daily Life–Then & Now (2nd grade) by William Schmelzle, Valley Falls Elementary, USD 388, Valley Falls. Developed during the Library of Congress Midwest Region/KSHS Workshop 2011.The purpose of this lesson is to have students recognize and understand the similarities and differences between their daily (modern) life and the daily lives of people in the past. The students will use primary sources to compare and contrast the daily lives of students in schools/learning (Plains Indians, a pioneer, and modern day student). The lesson can be completed in three class periods.
Kansas Classroom–Then & Now (2nd grade) by Mary Williams, Meadow Lane Elementary, USD 233, Olathe. Developed during the Library of Congress Midwest Region/KSHS Workshop 2012. This lesson introduces students to classrooms of the past. students will use photographs to compare and contrast classrooms in the twentieth century and today. Students will read diary entries written by a student and a teacher in the late 1800's to understand point of view. Students will write a diary entry from a teacher or student perspective for a specific time period. This lesson is designed to take two class periods of about 45 minutes.
Kansas Schools–Then and Now (2nd grade) by Courtney Otter, Sunset Hill Elementary, USD 497, Lawrence. Developed during the Library of Congress Midwest Region/KSHS Workshop 2012. This lesson allows students to use primary sources to find out what schools were like in early Kansas. Students will use photographs as their primary source to compare and contrast early schools and their own school. Students will use a Venn diagram to record their findings. They will have opportunity to work in small groups to share information and practice their listening skills. Finally, they will demonstrate their knowledge by completing a writing project. The lesson is designed for three days.
School in the Past and Present (2nd grade) by Mollie Wold, Chase County Elementary, USD 284, Strong City. Developed during the Library of Congress Midwest Region/KSHS Workshop 2012. This lesson helps students to compare their school with those of the past. They will use photos and an actual visit to a one-room schoolhouse to learn about schools of long ago. They will write a journal entry of their visit to the school. This lesson is planned for three days including the trip to the one-room schoolhouse.
Civics and Government
The Pledge of Allegiance (1st grade) by Donna Blattner, Pawnee Heights, USD 496, Rozel. Developed during the Library of Congress/KSHS Workshop 2012. This lesson teaches students that the Pledge of Allegiance is a national symbol. Students will discuss ways of saying the Pledge of Allegiance, develop vocabulary, and use word recognition strategies to locate words. This is a thirty-minute lesson with an optional extension activity.
Who's the Boss? (Kindergarten) by Kim Bruening, McEachron Elementary, USD 501, Topeka. Developed during the Library of Congress/KSHS Workshop 2012. Students will learn through primary sources the chain of command that we all must live under. Students will consider rules and laws starting with their homes and then moving to the school, city, state, and federal government. They will discuss the rules in each form of government. Students will then think about rules they believe should be in effect at their home or school, and write proposals for those rules to be presented.
United States Symbols--The American Flag (1st Grade) by Carlin Smith, Pauline Central Primary, USD 437, Topeka. Developed during the Library of Congress/KSHS Workshop 2011. The purpose of this lesson is to familiarize the students with common symbols of the United States, specifically the American flag. They will study primary sources to learn how the flag has changed over time. Students will also learn flag etiquette and various places that flags are commonly flown. As an end product the students will create an American flag with their own written description to accompany it.
Intermediate lessons (4th-5th grades)
Read Kansas! intermediate lessons (4th-5th grades)
Notable Kansan: Charles Curtis (4th grade) by Jennifer Tillberg, Soderstrom Elementary, USD 400, Lindsborg. Developed during the Library of Congress/KSHS Workshop, 2011.This lesson will give students the opportunity to explore primary and secondary sources related to Charles Curtis' life. Then, by reading an article about Curtis, students will prove or disprove their inferences made during the study. The lesson plan is intended to cover two to three days.
Civics and Constitution Day
The Constitution in a Box (5th grade) by Rene' Appelhans, Highland Park Central, USD 501, Topeka. Developed during the Library of Congress/KSHS Workshop 2012. This lesson uses primary resources that will help the students learn about the Constitution of the United States. Learning is presented in a mystery/clue format that involves cooperative groups. Each group will be given none clues to use in discussing and making predictions related to the mystery item. when all groups have made their prediction of the mystery item, the teacher will reveal what the mystery item is (Constitution of the United States). A self assessment of the lesson is provided for students to record their learning. The activity is designed to last 15 to 30 minutes.
The Constitution, Say What? (5th grade) by Orella Hosack, Marshall Elementary, USD 389, Eureka. Developed during the Library of Congress/KSHS Workshop 2012. By discussing classroom rules, the students will learn that rules are a vital part of our world. This will lead to the Constitution of the United States, the supreme law of the land. By using dictionaries to find synonyms for difficult words, the students will work to restate the Constitution in more easily understood words without losing the original meaning. The students will rewrite the Constitution in their own words, while learning the difference between primary and secondary sources. This lesson will also work well for a Constitution Day lesson for upper elementary and middle school students. It is designed as a seven day plan, but it can be modified to fit your needs.
Constitutions for One and All (4th grade) by Kimberly Bayless, McCarter Elementary, USD 501, Topeka. Developed during the Library of Congress/KSHS Workshop 2012. This lesson is designed to supplement the annual celebration of Constitution Day. Students will work with partners and in teams of four to compare and contrast Articles 1-3 of the constitutions of the United States and Kansas. Students will use text versions of both constitutions to find details of each article. Then students will compare and contrast the constitutions. The lesson is designed to take one class period of approximately 45 minutes.
Our Government (4th grade) by Kristin Kneisler, Lyndon Elementary, USD 421, Lyndon. Developed during the Library of Congress/KSHS Workshop 2012. This lesson is to give the students an overview of the Constitution and how it relates to the government. The students will also learn how the government works together to run a nation using the Constitution. They will also learn the functions of the branches of government. To relate this concept to state government the students will compare and contrast the principal buildings of each branch. In the end groups of students will develop a presentation which will illustrate their knowledge of the three branches of government. These lessons are set up for 45 minute sessions for approximately six days.
The Timeline of the Constitution (5th grade) by Rita Hinck, Whitson Elementary, USD 501, Topeka. Developed during the Library of Congress/KSHS Workshop 2012. This lesson uses images to help students become familiar with some of the important events in America’s history which led to the writing of the Constitution of the United States. Using primary and several secondary images students will learn how to “read” a picture and draw conclusions. Reading the image will be conducted through an activity called “magic eye.” Students will create their own timeline to put these events in order. This lesson will take between 45 to 60 minutes, depending upon the time allowed for discussion and research.
Life Then and Now
Kansas County Fairs through the Years (4th grade) by Linda Wiersma, Sunflower Elementary School, USD 368, Paola, KS. Developed during the Library of Congress/KSHS Workshop 2012.This lesson allows the students to work with primary sources. Several primary sources are presented that give clues to the experience of attending a county fair over one hundred years ago. This lesson helps the students find clues in the primary sources. Using the primary sources, students will compare and contrast local entertainment from the past to the present. In addition, students will successfully demonstrate the acquired knowledge orally and in written form. The lesson is presented over a three-day time frame and contains differentiation and extensions to meet the individual needs of the learners.
Lives and Livelihoods in Kansas in the 1800's (4th grade) by Karen Ward, Sunflower Elementary School, USD 497, Lawrence. Developed during the Library of Congress Midwest Region/KSHS Workshop 2012. This lesson focuses on the life of the individuals that lived on a Kansas family farm. By examining different 1855 Territorial Kansas censuses students will come to the conclusion that most settlers during this time were farmers. Students will also read three different diaries from early pioneers. Students will practice finding facts and making inferences about the roles and duties of various family members within the pioneer family. This lesson is designed for four class periods.
Making Inferences about History Using Primary Sources (5th grade) by Nena Pierce, Concordia Middle School, USD 333, Concordia. Developed during the Library of Congress Midwest Region/KSHS Workshop 2012.The purpose of this lesson is for students to look at parts of primary sources in order to make inferences and draw conclusions. They will learn the history is someone's story about the past. It can change through interpretation and the discovery of new facts in the form of primary resources. Students will work in groups to make inferences about a primary source and learn about the interpretation of history. This is a set of three 45-60 minute lessons. The lesson plan can be suited to fit multiple grade levels and curriculum subjects.
Daily Life on the Oregon-California Trail (4th grade) by Rochelle Rey, Pauline South Intermediate School, USD 437, Wakarusa. Developed during the Library of Congress Midwest Region/KSHS Workshop 2011.This lesson is designed to teach what daily life was like for people traveling the Oregon-California Trail. Students will learn the hardships faced by travelers and what supplies were necessary for the trip. Students will view pictures and read journal entries written by people traveling the trail during the late 1800s and then create their own journal entry as if they were traveling on the trail.
Middle school lessons
Read Kansas! middle school lessons (6th-8th grades)
Laws and Rights: From Code of Hammurabi to U.S. Constitution (6th grade) by Carrie Weber, Midland Trail Elementary, USD 202, Turner. Developed during the Library of Congress Midwest Region/KSHS Workshop 2011.Students will study primary and secondary sources related to the formation of laws and rights of people through both the Code of Hammurabi and the U. S. Constitution.
Settling Kansas (7th grade) by LeAnn Rottinghaus, Rock Creek Junior/Senior High, USD 323, St. George. Developed during the Security Benefit/Kansas Historical Society Workshop 2010. Students will understand the pull factors that brought immigrants to Kansas, where groups of immigrants settled, and how propaganda influenced immigrants to come to Kansas. The lesson uses primary sources from Kansas Memory and is written for three class periods.
Struggling for Kansas (7th grade) by Midge Schmitz, French Middle School, USD 501, Topeka. Developed during the Library of Congress Midwest Region/KSHS Workshop 2011. This research based lesson is designed to familiarize students with some of the people who participated in the struggle for equality in Kansas. It will help the students to understand the concept of popular sovereignty as it relates to the settlement of Kansas Territory. The students, by comparing and contrasting, will gain an understanding of the dispute over Kansas entering as a slave vs. anti-slave state. The culmination of the group research will be multi-media presentations.
This Guilty Land investigates John Brown's complex personality and controversial actions in Kansas Territory.
Rights and the Wyandotte Constitution explores the fundamental civil rights granted to Kansans under the state's constitution, the Wyandotte Constitution.
Dear Wife & Children Every One uses one of John Brown's letters to examine his role in the 1856 Battle of Osawatomie.
Popular Sovereignty and the Lecompton Constitution examines the debate over the Lecompton Constitution as a way to understand the implementation of popular sovereignty in Kansas Territory.
The People of Kansas: Where did they come from and why did they come? seeks to understand the origins of emigrants to Kansas and many reasons they settled in the territory. This lesson plan also correlates with People of Kansas: Who are they and why are they here?
The People of Kansas: Who are they and why are they here? studies the settlement experience through first-hand accounts of pioneers to Kansas Territory. Some of the primary sources used in this lesson are the same as those in "The People of Kansas: Where did they come from and why did they come?"
Town Development explores town development and how it was affected by the conflict over the extension of slavery into the territory.
Sectionalism and the Kansas-Nebraska Act examines the impact of popular sovereignty on the creation of Kansas as a state.
Sectionalism, Popular Sovereignty, and Secession investigates the sequence of national events that resulted in the Civil War.