Landmark Lessons

Find lesson plans generated by teachers who completed the Cultures of Independence workshop at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. The lessons illustrate how local and national history can be taught through a focus on a physical place and primary sources. Criteria for selecting lessons also included the teaching of historiography and, when appropriate, connections to the founding principles of the United States. Use a lesson from your region, or become inspired to create your own.

Civic Art Project: Notes on the Constitution

Students create art works based on an examination of the language of the Constitution and the personal connections they make. These art works will incorporate words, illustrations, and mixed media images.
This lesson can be adapted for different grade levels. High school students can use an abridged version of the U.S. Constitution. Elementary and middle school students can use the Preamble, or introduction, to the Constitution.

Civic Art Project: From Her Beacon

Students will work collaboratively to create a mural of the Statue of Liberty to show the statue as a representation of freedom and a symbol of welcome to immigrants coming from other countries. This lesson can be adapted for different grade levels. High school students will read a poem and incorporate some of its ideas into their mural. Elementary and middle school students will incorporate words and phrases inspired by the statue into their mural. This activity supports Art, Social Studies, Civics, and English Language Arts standards and can be used as a cross-curricular project across these classrooms. Teachers across the curricula are encouraged to work together to bring this activity to life.

Landmarks of American History and Culture

This Teacher’s Guide provides information and resources for integrating creative approaches to place-based history in K-12 humanities education. As tangible reminders of the past, memorials and monuments, as well as neighborhoods, historic homes, waterways, and many other sites, have the power to influence how we interpret contemporary society. The resources herein address public history and the disciplines that fall within the field; NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture programs and the resources that have been developed for educators; and access to sites included in the National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks. By introducing historic and cultural sites into the classroom setting, students can develop a greater understanding of the reality and prevalence of history in their local landscape.

Election: The Road to the White House (Secondary)

During an election, civic energy reaches a fever pitch. The vote is one of the citizen’s most powerful tools, and advocating for a candidate, a set of ideas, or a platform is the right of every citizen. The President of the United States is often called the most powerful person in the world, so with every presidential election, the stakes are high. This unit is designed to teach students about presidential elections. It is not a collection of facts, diagrams, and explanations of processes. It is an interactive, project-based unit that invites the student to fully engage in the process of an election while also informing students about how elections work. It is our hope that this unit helps cultivate the sorts of informed and engaged citizens that are so essential to our democracy.

Election: The Road to the White House (Elementary)

This unit is designed to teach students about presidential elections. It is not a collection of facts, diagrams, and explanations of processes. It is an interactive, project-based unit that invites the student to fully engage in the process of an election while also informing students about how elections work. It is our hope that this unit helps cultivate the sorts of informed and engaged citizens that are so essential to our democracy.

Native American Housing

Native American housing is frequently assumed to be represented by one or two well-known styles such as the teepee or pueblo. While these do reflect distinct tribal designs, they are not all inclusive and students should be exposed to a wider range of design. The lesson should also help students understand the relationship between environment and housing. Free registration for students and teachers required to access resource.