Exploring Local History Using Primary
Source Documents
An Activity for Intermediate and Above English Learners

Home | Lesson Procedure | Vocabulary Activity | Local History Resources



Sue Aaron
Gandview Elementary School
RIM of the World USD

Third Grade Standards:

California History-Social Science Standards addressed:
3.1. Students describe the physical and human geography and use maps, tables, graphs, photographs, and charts to organize information about people, places, and environments in a spatial context by (1) identifying geographical features in the local region and (2) tracing the ways in which people have used the resources of the local region and modified the physical environment.
3.3.2. Students draw from historical and community resources to organize the sequence of events in local history and describe how each period of settlement left its mark on the land in terms of the economies established by settlers and their influence on the present day economy, with emphasis on the importance of private property and entrepreneurship.
3.3.3. Students draw from historical and community resources to organize the sequence of events in local history and describe how each period of settlement left its mark on the land in terms of why their community was established, how individuals and families contributed to its founding and development, and how the community has changed over time, drawing upon primary sources.
California English-Language Arts Standards, Written and Oral English Language Conventions addressed:
1.0. Identify and use past, present, and future tenses correctly in writing and speaking.
1.7. Capitalize geographic names, holidays, historical periods, and special events correctly.
California English-Language Arts Standards, Listening and Speaking addressed:
1.5. Organize ideas chronologically or around major points of information.
1.8. Clarify and enhance oral presentation through the use of appropriate props (e.g., objects, pictures, and charts).



Lesson Procedure
Local History Worksheet

Collect 4-6 photographs or postcards that depict your community’s history. I obtained mine from our local Historical Society.

Divide the students into small groups and ask each group to study a photograph. Each group should record their observations on the worksheet. The worksheet includes a space to list people, objects, and activities seen in the picture and a place to write questions that the students have regarding the picture.

After each group has completed their worksheet, ask them to display their photograph to the class and to read their questions. The teacher should monitor class discussions as each group completes their presentation. In addition, the teacher can support the accuracy of the students’ conclusions and add facts about the pictures.

Samples historical photos Lake Arrowhead
1. 1860s – Before the Lake
2. Construction of Arrowhead Reservoir
3. Crane Digging Tunnels
4. Tunnels
5. Lake Arrowhead