The National Register of Historic Places and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have invested their time and effort into a well organized web resource for teachers. The purpose of this website is to help teachers "teach with historic places." Check out the wonderful lesson plan ideas and resources presented at http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/twhp/
At the heart of the TEACHING WITH HISTORIC PLACES program is a series of short lesson plans that are ready to use in the classroom. Each lesson uses a place listed in the National Register of Historic Places to teach a social studies topic such as the westward movement, industrial revolution, urban development, and social reforms. These lessons link a dramatic story of the place with larger themes and events in history. Learning objectives are given in each lesson, students investigate written and visual evidence to determine facts abou the place and its story, and activities are given that guide students in putting together facts and forming conclusions about the information presented in the lesson. I especially like the picture investigations that can be done at the beginning of the lesson where students view a photo and have to determine what is happening. Through the course of the lesson they determine if their idea was correct or off base.
Many of the places detailed on this site go right along with my fourth grade curriculum. A few of the sites are in the Atlanta area close to my school. Actual field trips could be planned with these sites in mind while virtual field trips from your classroom computer lab could be taken for historic places that are too far away. The lesson plan ideas could be used to build motivation for the trip, provide activities during the trip, and to provide a culminating activing once the class returns to campus.
Teaching with historic places enriches history, geography, and integrates instruction across a number of disciplines. Abstract concepts and broad issues that are studied in textbooks are transformed into tangible realities and intriguing stories about their everyday world.
What a great way to motivate students!