Magazine article Teach

Learning about the Past

Magazine article Teach

Learning about the Past

Article excerpt

Duration: 2-4 Class Periods

Grade Level: 4-6 g5u21ess.html





Oral Tradition


To better understand our lifestyles and experiences in present times, today's students need to develop a broad knowledge base about what came before them. Textbooks can deliver information, but the study of history is also about discovery and analysis. This lesson plan, developed by Saskatchewan Learning, is intended to help you teach your students about the past through creative activities and classroom discussions.

In this resource you will find information about staging an archaeological dig, learning about interpretation and points of view, exploring the concept of time, and studying artifacts, features and ecofacts. You can open a window into the past for your students with these innovative resources. We hope they inspire a new generation of kids who are excited about the adventures that lie within learning about the past!

We would like to hear from you. Please contact us at and let us know how you used this resource in your classroom.


Students will know that:

* people learn about history from written and oral records and from archaeology.

* writers of history do so within the context of their own beliefs, values and perspectives.



Students will:

* use various resources to identify perspectives and points of view.


Students will:

* appreciate the processes of learning about the past.

Citizen Action

Students may:

* practice seeing things from various points of view.


* Begin a timeline. Start with a section to represent the present year. Add information that is important to the class, for example, field trips. As the year progresses extend the timeline into the past and future. Measure time using a cyclical method. Divide a circle into quadrants to represent the four (or six) seasons (or other period of time). Have pupils create personal timelines, using either the linear or cyclical model.

* Explore the various methods of learning about the past such as diaries, oral and written histories, journals, records, artifacts, and ecofacts. Reflect on the positive and negative aspects of each method.

* Organize a simulated or real (if possible) archaeological dig.

* Using the Student Information Page: Point of View as well as appropriate selections and activities in language arts (mystery stories, folk tales, news articles, historical fiction), practice identifying and stating various points of view.

* Explore the concept of time. Add to the linear and cyclical timelines, using illustrations of significant events. Discuss the relationships of the events and their relative positions on the timeline. Point out that although we now learn about history mainly from books, information about the distant past comes mainly from artifacts and oral history. Relate cyclical time to Indian and Métis perspective.

* Learn about the oral tradition of Indian peoples. Use stories as one source of information as you study history. Also, create stories and present them in the oral tradition.

* Study artifacts and ecofacts or pictures of them. Ask, "What do they tell us about the people who made/ used them?" Visit a museum to study some artifacts and share background information about them. Explain in writing the meaning of each artifact.

* Prepare a package of materials from the school, house and garage. Working in groups, have students imagine they are living in another time and have them interpret the "artifacts" and make assumptions about the people who used them.


Activity Guide

Teacher background

Some pertinent ideas and information that may be incorporated in this module include:

* the concept of time may be illustrated in a linear or cyclical fashion;

* information about the recent and distant past is obtained primarily from books, whose authors write on the basis of information obtained through observation, original documents, other history books, artifacts, fossils, oral history, legends, and myths;

* much of what is recorded in history books about prehistoric peoples and events is based on interpretations of artifacts and oral history;

* artifacts may have sacred significance and importance in recording the past;

* oral history was and still is of great value in many cultures including the Indian peoples, where Elders were/are revered as historians;

* oral history has been an important means of transmitting information ever since the dawn of humanity;

* it is/has been an important source of information about pre-historical and historical time periods;

* people who did not utilize a pen and paper written language did rely upon other forms of communication as well as upon oral history;

* historical documents are generally written from one perspective, and do not necessarily tell the whole story;

* our knowledge or assumptions about the past changes as new information is found;

* authors, no matter how hard they try to be unbiased, write within the context of their own values, beliefs, and perspectives;

* new information about the past is very slow to find its way into historical documents;

* in the past, most of the documents written about Canada's First Peoples have been written from a Eurocentric perspective. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.