Lesson Plans for Elementary
Middle School Students
The following lesson plans correspond to the themes of The Way We Worked. These materials are intended for use in the classroom to prepare elementary and middle school students for a visit to the exhibition. Each lesson plan is available for free on the Internet, and includes information on its compliance with national standards of learning. These lesson plans utilize a multi-disciplinary approach, make use of primary source materials, and include downloadable worksheets and/or other resources to supplement the lessons.
The National Endowment for the Humanities’ EDSITEment website offers online lesson plans in literature and language arts, foreign languages, art and culture, and history and social studies. EDSITEment has three lesson plans for middle school students that directly relate to the themes in the exhibition:
Esperanza Rising: Learning Not to Be Afraid to Start Over http://www.edsitement.neh.gov/view_lesson_plan.asp?id=739
Pam Muñoz Ryan’s novel tells the story of a young Mexican girl's courage when she finds herself living in a strange new world. As students contemplate Esperanza’s transition from pampered child to responsible young woman, they will also analyze the immigration and migration of farm laborers during the Great Depression.
The Industrial Age in America: Sweatshops, Steel Mills, and Factories www.edsitement.neh.gov/view_lesson_plan.asp?id=430
Students will explore the working conditions that led to the Haymarket Affair, the Homestead Strike, and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, and the significance of these events to the labor movement in the United States.
Women Aviators in World War II: “Fly Girls”
Students will explore the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) during World War II, whose contributions ultimately enhanced careers for women in aviation.
Great Lodges of the National Parks: Pacific Northwest
The Works Progress Administration and the New Deal
This lesson plan teaches middle school students about how President Roosevelt’s New Deal helped America through the Great Depression by exploring the history of the Timberline Lodge in Oregon, which was built by the Works Progress Administration to employ workers and encourage tourism.
The Library of Congress
The Library of Congress provides online resources that allow teachers to utilize the Library’s primary source materials in the classroom. The LOC has three lesson plans for middle school students that directly relate to the themes in the exhibition:
Child Labor in America www.memory.loc.gov/learn/lessons/98/labor/plan.html
Students will explore the work of reformer Lewis Hine, whose gritty photographs helped spur the adoption of child labor laws in the United States.
Sea Changes: A Study of a New England Industry www.memory.loc.gov/learn/lessons/00/sea/overview.html
Students will explore the unique geographic, cultural, and economic characteristics of the Northeast coast through the study of photographs, maps, and interviews with two New England fishermen in the early 20th century.
Who Really Built America www.memory.loc.gov/learn/lessons/98/built/index.html
Students study primary source materials to understand child labor and its effect on American children during the emerging industrial society from 1880 to 1920.
The National First Ladies’ Library
Devoted to educating people about the contributions of First Ladies and other notable women in history, the Library produces educational materials for classroom students K through 12. The Library has lesson plans for both elementary and middle school students that directly relate to the themes in the exhibition:
The Laboring Child in the Gilded Age
Middle school students will gain experience in using primary sources, in this case the photographs of Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine, to understand the working lives of poor, largely immigrant children during the Gilded Age.
In 1919 the police force in Boston, Massachusetts, went on strike when management and workers could not agree on working conditions. Elementary school students will learn specifically about the Boston Police Strike, and also about what happens when police anywhere go on strike.
Rosie the Riveter
The image of Rosie the Riveter helped change ideas about working women during World War II. Elementary school students will learn about women working on the home front during the war and gain an understanding of the power of symbols.
A Working Women Time Machine
Middle school students will learn about the lives of working women throughout the history of the United States, whose options for working outside the home were limited by a variety of factors at different.
"You Ought To Be In School!" Child Labor and Compulsory Educationwww.firstladies.org/curriculum/curriculum.aspx?Curriculum=1435
During the Industrial Revolution, the nation gradually replaced the idea that children should help support the family with the idea that children should be in school. Middle school students will learn about reform efforts by tracing the parallel development of child labor laws and compulsory schooling laws.
Teaching with Historic Places: Paterson, New Jersey: America's Silk City www.nps.gov/history/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/102paterson/102paterson.htm
Paterson’s mills manufactured a variety of things starting in the 1790s, but in 1913 they stood silent for five months as workers joined in a bitter strike that received national attention. Created by the National Park Service, this lesson plan for middle school students explores the history of a site on the National Register of Historic Places using maps, readings, and photographs.
The Smithsonian Institution’s online resource for teachers, families, and students has extensive teaching materials, links to additional resources, and information on the Smithsonian’s holdings. Smithsonian Educator has lesson plans for both elementary and middle school students that directly relates to the themes in the exhibition:
Developed by the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the National Museum of American History, this lesson plan helps both elementary and middle school students explore labor, mechanization, technology, and innovation during America’s early Industrial Revolution.
The Price of Freedom: Americans at War
Provided by the National Museum of American History, this series of lesson plans includes “Changing Gender Roles on the Home Front.” Middle school students analyze the societal impact of women holding industrial jobs during World War II using the Museum’s collections of Rosie the Riveter artifacts and images