Grade 3 – Exploring Communities: Using Historic Maps to Learn about the Past


TEACHER'S SNAPSHOT
Topic
Architecture, Environment, The State
Theme
Using Evidence to Learn About the Past
Town
Bridgeport, Canton, Danbury, East Haddam, Hartford, Killingly, Madison, New Haven, New London, NorwichThomaston, Vernon, Statewide
Related Search Terms
Map, Geography, Communities, Local History, Architecture, Landmarks, Insurance
Social Studies Frameworks
Grade 3 – Connecticut & Local History
D1: POTENTIAL COMPELLING QUESTION

Why do our communities look the way they do today?

D1: POTENTIAL SUPPORTING QUESTIONS

In what ways has our community’s past shaped how it looks today?

How has geography affected our community over time?

How have science, technology, and innovation affected communities?

D2: TOOL KIT

Things you will need to teach this lesson.

An example of a Sanborn map titled Insurance maps of Danbury, Fairfield County, Connecticut by the Sanborn Map Company, 1904 -
An example of a Sanborn map titled Insurance maps of Danbury, Fairfield County, Connecticut by the Sanborn Map Company, 1904 – Yale University, Sterling Memorial Library, Connecticut Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

Use the Yale University Library website–Connecticut Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps— to select and download a Sanborn fire insurance map to fit your teaching goals (you can look at the maps in your browser, but downloading the high-quality PDFs will enable students to make out more details).

You may choose just one map from your town or a nearby town, if you wish to focus on your own community, or select a few maps to show different types of environments—large cities, medium-sized towns, or smaller towns—if your focus is on urban, suburban, and rural communities. Note that many (but not all) Connecticut towns are represented in Sanborn maps. Here are a few samples from around the state:

Sanborn fire insurance maps were first published in 1867 to show how great a risk of fire there was in any town or city. The maps include all of the buildings in town, colored-coded to show what materials were used to build them (mostly “frame”/wood, brick, or stone). The maps also include important public buildings (government buildings, theaters, churches, schools, etc.), street names, and additional information. For larger cities, the maps take up several pages, like an atlas. For some communities, they are the most detailed maps available from the late 1800s to early 1900s. They are a great source of information about the past for historians–young and old!

D3: INQUIRY ACTIVITY

Using the Library of Congress’s Primary Source Analysis process, give students time to examine each of the maps you have selected, and ask them to OBSERVE, REFLECT, and QUESTION. For larger towns, you may want to start with the “title page” and then also look at a downtown detail page and one from farther outside the city center.

  1.  Observe: What do you notice first? What information does the map provide? What geographic elements are included? Which way is north/south/east/west and how do you know? Are there words on the map?
  2. Reflect: What do you think was important to the people who made this map? Does the map give us any clues about the time in which it was made? If you are familiar with this town today, what is the same and what is different? Or how is the town shown in this map similar to or different from your own?
  3. Question: What does this map make you wonder?
D4: COMMUNICATING CONCLUSIONS
  1. Imagining they are cartographers/map-makers, students will think about their own town and develop a list of all of the special places (public buildings, landmarks, public spaces, etc.) that should be included in a new map of town.
  2. Students will try their hand at making a map using rulers and graph paper. Making a map of the classroom is an easy project to start with; if your room has floor tiles, students can use those to mark out the dimensions on the graph paper.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Places to GO
Things to DO
Articles & Books to READ

Save

Grade 5 – Nathan Hale: A Connecticut Hero

Last Words of Captain Nathan Hale

by Rachel DiSilvestro


TEACHER'S SNAPSHOT
Topic
Nathan Hale, Revolutionary War
Theme
Cultural Diversity and an American National Identity
Town
Coventry, East Haddam, New London, Norwalk, Statewide
Related Search Terms
American Revolution, Hero, Patriot, Spy
Social Studies Frameworks
Grade 5 – Early United States History
D1: POTENTIAL COMPELLING QUESTION

What makes a hero?

D1: POTENTIAL SUPPORTING QUESTIONS
  • What actions make a hero?
  • What characteristics describe a hero?
  • How can words and pictures make people perceive someone as a hero?
D2: TOOL KIT

Things you will need to teach this lesson:

  Document commissioning Nathan Hale a Captain

Document commissioning Nathan Hale a captain in the nineteenth regiment of foot command by Colonel Charles Webb. Signed by John Hancock – Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Last Words of Captain Nathan Hale
Last Words of Captain Nathan Hale, the Hero-Martyr of the American RevolutionNew York Public Library Digital Collections, The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs

D3: INQUIRY ACTIVITY

Start by asking students to define a “hero.” What characteristics or actions make a person a hero?

Have students examine the document commissioning Nathan Hale as a captain in the army of the United Colonies.

  • Look for words in the document that describe Hale’s character or the expectations for his behavior. (Students may need assistance defining unfamiliar terms or expressions.)
  • Students should discuss these terms and compare with their previous definition of a hero.

Show students the illustration (created much later–in the 1850s) depicting the last words of Nathan Hale, just prior to his hanging by the British.

  • What do students see/notice in the image?
  • How would they describe the various characters in the image?
  • What questions do they have about what they see?
  • What guesses can they make about what is happening?

Explain that the image was created about 75 years after the events shown.

  • What do you think the artist’s purpose was in creating the image?
  • What did the artist want you to feel about Nathan Hale?
D4: COMMUNICATING CONCLUSIONS

Students will discuss why Connecticut chose Nathan Hale as the state hero, considering important American values and how these contribute to our American identity. Students will then investigate other people who played “heroic” roles in the American Revolution or in Connecticut’s history, and present their findings through a “Museum of Heroes” (posters, songs, role-playing, etc.).

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Places to GO
Things to DO
Articles to READ

Grade 8 – Venture Smith: From Slavery to Connecticut Businessman

by Khalil Quotap
Institute for American Indian Studies, Washington


TEACHER'S SNAPSHOT
Topic
Slavery & Abolition
Theme
The Struggle for Freedom, Equality, and Social Justice
Town
East Haddam, Stonington, Statewide
Related Search Terms
Enslaved, Primary Sources, Archaeology, Local History
Social Studies Frameworks
Grade 8 – United States History
D1: POTENTIAL COMPELLING QUESTION

How can a former slave prosper in a colony where slavery is legal?

D1: POTENTIAL SUPPORTING QUESTIONS
  • How can objects be used to support written accounts of historical events?
  • What kind of life could a former slave expect to have in the Connecticut colony in the late 1700s?
  • What is a primary source? Secondary? And how can they be used in research?
D2: TOOL KIT

Things you will need to teach this lesson.

Boat caulking iron
Boat caulking iron
Boat caulking iron
Boat caulking iron

Boat Caulking Iron

Identified by Dr. William Peterson, senior curator, and Quentin Snediker, director of the shipyard, at Mystic Seaport. Both were pleased to confirm that site structures and artifacts demonstrate Venture Smith’s mariner activities.

Piece of an early glass bottle
Piece of an early glass bottle
Shards of 19th century ceramics
Shards of 19th century ceramics
Incised bone handle
Incised bone handle
Domestic Artifacts: These objects have been excavated in and around structures at the Smith Homestead dig site. These materials include an incised bone knife handle, early bottle glass and a variety of 18th and early 19th century ceramics.

 

Click to open PDF

Timeline of Venture Smith’s life created for a presentation by Lucianne Lavin, Ph.D.

 

 

D3: INQUIRY ACTIVITY

Students will read a brief summary of Venture Smith’s history and examine the artifact images found on the Smith Homestead dig site. They will use the information from the artifact to support their findings.

  • What do the artifacts tell about the person who lived there?
  • How can you be sure the artifacts are real?
  • Based on what the artifacts found, how do you think the family lived during the late 1700s?
  • How does this change the way you think of how minorities were treated in the past?
  • What does this tell you about the general population in Connecticut and their view of minorities during the late 1700s?
D4: COMMUNICATING CONCLUSIONS
  • Have students share their specific evidence in response to the compelling and supporting questions.
  • Inquiry projects
    • What types of discrimination or challenges would former slaves face?
    • What employment or occupations might a former slave expect to find?
    • How was life at sea an option for former slaves?
  • Compare the experiences of immigrants today with former slaves in the colonies.
  • Have students bring an artifact from home and ask: “What would historians think about life now based on the artifacts we would leave behind?”
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Places to GO
Things to DO
Websites to VISIT
Articles to READ