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Classroom Activities

These classroom activities were developed in collaboration between primary and secondary teachers, OSU faculty and Ohio Historical Society public historians. The lessons integrate a variety of primary sources that can be used in classrooms with various degrees of available technology.

There are a variety of activities here. Some will take an entire class period or more. Others are short exercises that can be easily integrated into existing lessons and provide teachers with the opportunity to illustrate history through the use of primary material.

All the activities promote historical inquiry and analysis and they are flexible so as to be helpful to a range of age and developmental groups. They can be used immediately by downloading or printing the material provided.

Click on the titles below to access various lesson plans.

Adena & Hopewell Cultures: Artifact Analysis

Cahokia & Mississippian Native Culture

Native American Cultures

An Exchange of Cultures: Interactions between Native Americans and Others in the Ohio Country

Trade Silver: Analyzing Trade Goods Desired by Native Americans

Christopher Columbus: Friend or Foe?

Cold Case: The Lost Colony

John Winthrop and the Puritans

From Seed to Shirt and Beyond: The Linen Industry from Colonial Times to the Industrial Revolution

The American Revolution  (multiple lessons arranged by grade level)

Shay's Rebellion

Debating the Constitution

The Constitution: A Second Grade Lesson

Students and the Supreme Court

Diarists on the Ohio Frontier

The Lews and Clark Expedition (multiple lessons arranged by grade level)

Transportation: The Progression of Transportation in Ohio and the West

Western Expansion (multiple lessons arranged by grade level)

The African Slave Trade (multiple lessons arranged by grade level)

The Daily Life of Slaves

American Immigration in the 1800s

Irish Immigration to the United States

The Ohio and Erie Canal

Canals: Getting Goods to Market

Transporting Goods to Market: The Old Port Washington Road

Canal Versus National Road

The Underground Railroad in Ohio

The Underground Railroad and the Fugitive Slave Act

Child Labor:  Through their Eyes


Spiral Questions Format

Document Analysis Worksheet

Document Analysis Worksheet for Primary Grades

Photograph Analysis Worksheet

Image Analysis Worksheet

Editorial Cartoon Analysis Worksheet

Artifact Analysis Worksheet

Artifact Analysis Worksheet 2

Venn Diagram


Latest News!


For your participation in Connecting to the Past, you have earned Three Graduate Non-Degree Credit Semester Hours from the Ohio State University.

For an official record of those hours, you may request a transcript from Ohio State. Those credits will be posted after August 20, 2012.

To get a transcript, you must order it on-line.

Note: Only YOU can order a transcript. Entities that cannot order your transcript include: The History Teaching Institute, Tri-County Educational Service Center, the Ohio Historical Society, and the Connecting to the Past program

Before ordering a transcript, please read the Overview and proceed through the tabs, "Payment" "Authorization" and "Pricing." To order transcript, you will click on the "Start My Order" button on the upper right of the screen accessed at the link above. Note that your credit is being assigned in the Summer Semester 2012.


Document-based whole-class discussion is a classroom activity where students engage in the interpretation and reconciliation of multiple historical documents. Rather than a heated debate, the classroom dynamic resembles a deliberative seminar, where the teacher plays an active role in facilitating student participation.

You can download a detailed description, with handouts. Another teaching resource from your friends at teachinghistory.org

The APRIL NEWSLETTER is now availible! Click the link at left to Learn about:

The Connecting to the Past Quilt

Remember making a history-themed quilt square at the Orientation? Molly has put them all together and taken a picture.

Following the links:

on our eHistory site

ORIGINS: Current Events in Historical Perspective


Our September Issue:

cover image

Interracial Marriage in "Post-Racial" America (by Jessica Viñas-Nelson)