Use the Activities
Putting It All Together
The following activities will help students
understand the impact of national events on the
American public and how such events relate to
the history of their own community.
Activity 1: Where Were You On the Day...?
President McKinley's shooting was a shocking
event for Americans in 1901. By interviewing
parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, or
friends, students can learn the personal feelings
of people who remember more recent tragedies.
Ask the students to find one person who
remembers what he or she was doing on the day
each of these events occurred: (1) the attack on
Pearl Harbor in 1941, (2) the assassination of
President John F. Kennedy in 1963, (3) the
assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968,
(4) the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger
in 1986, and (5) any major event that occurred in
their community that is still remembered today.
Have students compile notes from their interviews
and ask them to share what they have learned.
Activity 2: A Snapshot of History
Ansley Wilcox kept a scrapbook of the events
that took place in his home, in Buffalo, and in the
United States between May and November of 1901.
For one month have each student follow an
ongoing national event such as a presidential
election, a trial, or a sports team's effort at winning
a championship by clipping an article out of the
newspaper every day. Each day also have them
clip an article on an interesting local story even
if it is not ongoing. Students should paste the
articles in a notebook and write one or two
sentences telling what happened in their lives that
day. If they have a "souvenir" (ticket stub, photo,
etc. ) from that day, have them include it with their
notes. At the end of the month, hold a classroom
discussion on the brief "snapshot" students have
created of their nation, their community, and their
Activity 3: Buildings That Have
Ask students to locate a home or building in
their community that has served many different
purposes over the years. Using primary resources
such as atlases, directories, property tax records,
census data, and photographs, have the students
trace the history of the structure from its
construction to the present day. They may want
to interview people who lived near the structure
for a long time. Then ask students to make a time
line with information about the structure at various
times in its history on one side. On the other side
have the student write what happened in the
United States during that same time period. The
students may want to donate the completed project
to the local historical society so that others can
benefit from their research.