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Visit a Historical Site



  • Social Studies
    ----U.S. History
    ----State History


  • 6-8
  • 9-12

Brief Description

On the PBS show History Detectives, experts solve mysteries from the past using modern research methods. Teach your students to think like the history-mystery detectives with these lessons for Visiting a Historical Site. Appropriate for grades 7-12, the lessons provide step-by-step instructions for research before a visit to a historical site, procedures during the visit, and the creation of a poem based on the visit.


Students will:
  • research a historical site to determine the site's historical significance to their community.
  • research the events surrounding a specific historical site to place them in a wider historical context.
  • conduct field research of a historical site to reach a more complete understanding of a time period and a fuller appreciation of history.
  • compile data based upon their field research.
  • compose poetic works based upon historical ideas.
  • write a poem, using a historical figure's perspective to gain a better understanding of the time period.


history, field trip, research methods, poetry

Materials Needed

Students will need:
  • access to a variety of research resources, including a media center and a computer with Internet access.
  • access to computers equipped with PowerPoint software and presentation hardware. (optional)
  • copies of a scavenger hunt.
  • copies of a completed scavenger hunt based upon their trip to the historical site.

Lesson Plan

This three-lesson unit about Visiting a Historical Site provides students with an appreciation of the level of research conducted by social scientists as they examine a historical site.

In lesson one, students work in groups to research the history of the site, the history of the people who lived there, the site's most important historical period, and how the site became historically important, and then to create a PowerPoint presentation about it.

In lesson two, groups combine their research to create a scavenger hunt that will be used during a visit to the site. During the field trip, students listen to any guides or tours, then work in small groups to complete the scavenger hunt.

In lesson three, students choose (or are assigned) the name of a person who would have been present at the historical site. (It's recommended that students choose a person who would not have been famous.) Then, using facts gathered on the scavenger hunt, each student writes a 10-to-15-line poem from that person's perspective. Students peer edit their poems and share them with the class.

These lessons should take approximately six class periods to complete: 2-3 periods for the research and PowerPoint presentation; 1 period for the field trip; and 2 periods to write and present the poems. The PBS Web site Visiting a Historical Site contains in-depth steps for each lesson, as well as MCREL standards.


Students will be assessed on their
  • understanding of basic facts about the visited site.
  • time management and interpersonal skills during the entire project.

Lesson Plan Source

PBS History Detectives

Submitted By

Lorrie Jackson

National Standards

GRADES 5 - 12
NSS-USH.5-12.1 Era 1: Three Worlds Meet (Beginnings to 1620)
NSS-USH.5-12.2 Era 2: Colonization and Settlement (1585-1763)
NSS-USH.5-12.3 Era 3: Revolution and the New Nation (1754-1820s)
NSS-USH.5-12.4 Era 4: Expansion and Reform (1801-1861)
NSS-USH.5-12.5 Era 5: Civil War and Reconstruction (1850-1877)
NSS-USH.5-12.6 Era 6: The Development of the Industrial United States (1870-1900)
NSS-USH.5-12.7 Era 7: The Emergence of Modern America (1890-1930)
NSS-USH.5-12.8 Era 8: The Great Depression and World War II (1929-1945)
NSS-USH.5-12.9 Era 9: Postwar United States (1945 to early 1970s)
NSS-USH.5-12.10 Era 10: Contemporary United States (1968 to the Present)