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These activities require one or more class periods. Some contain suggestions for outside assignments.

Use this activity to introduce historiography to your history class, or to show your English class that our language changes in remarkable ways over time.

This humorous activity is a way to show your students what can happen when people do not write correct, standard English.  It is built around a few pieces of "urban folklore" collected by Alan Dundes and Carl Pagter, and published in their book WORK HARD AND YOU SHALL BE REWARDED (1975, republished 1992).

Teach your students to ferret out messages in editorial cartoons.

English is a crazy language.  In what other tongue do people drive on parkways and park in driveways?  Why is it that in English, noses run and feet smell?  Use this activity to introduce your students to some of this craziness while they practice using their dictionaries.

My thanks to William Shakespeare for the title of this activity (Macbeth, Act 4, Scene 1), and my apologies to those of you hoping for an introduction to the play.  Instead, you'll find a way to introduce exponents, line graphs and environmental crises.  It may not be Shakespeare, but I hope you'll find it valuable and intriguing nonetheless.

All students with whom I've worked have enjoyed thinking about and discussing money.  This activity gives them a chance to identify and test the truth of some of their perceptions about jobs and earnings.  It is also a good introduction to data tables, as well as a way to practice arithmetic skills, and to develop small group discussion and consensus building skills.

To paraphrase Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, "After you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be true."  From this activity, students will learn how to eliminate the impossible.  Use it to introduce them to the joys and frustrations of informal logic.  I believe it to be the only place on this site where I can guarantee the revelation of absolute truth.

Advertising, poster art, cartoons, and much more.  Your students will learn to defuse its power as they learn to spot and evaluate it.

This activity is designed to help students gain a feel for time spans.  It was inspired by Chapter 1 in Carl Sagan's THE DRAGONS OF EDEN (1977).   It is a natural for any class where you want students to understand the relationship of events or lives in time.  It would also be useful for math teachers looking for "word problems" with which to practice arithmetic or simple algebra skills.

Use this activity at the beginning of a course to introduce students to each other, and to the idea that this class will require all students to participate and contribute.

Benjamin Franklin once wrote, "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."  Use this activity to introduce your students to one way citizens in the U.S. experience the latter.  It can help develop basic arithmetic skills, and the ability to read and follow detailed instructions.

provides a way to get your students up and moving about the classroom in a purposeful manner, and also illustrates a key activity that makes up the professional lives of research historians - taking what often seem to be random bits of information found during research, and organizing them into a coherent story. It also can be used to help students develop the skills necessary to function effectively in groups.

Guide your students as they bring a few world statistics to life.

All of us are constantly making inferences.  Few of us know how to recognize them, why we should attempt to do so, or what to do with them if we do.  Help your students join the select few.

Show your students how some in the U.S. circa 1959 saw their relatively near future, and have them discuss what they got right and what they got wrong.


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last modified: Monday, July 25, 2011