An Artifact and its Literary Context: A 7th - 8th Grade Lesson Plan
In this lesson students use the scrapbook as a means of drawing connections between a historical artifact, the scrapbook, and the literature (or historical fiction) that is contemporary with it. Students have the option to write a traditional essay or a short story that draws upon the scrapbook and a complementary literary text. Before this lesson, all students in the class should have read a literary text set and/or written in the United States in the early 1900s. The teacher may assign one book for the entire class, or may allow students to choose from a list of possible titles.
- Students will practice drawing connections between a literary work and a historical artifact from a contemporary period.
- Students will practice reading and interpreting a literary text.
- Students will learn how to search and browse a digital library.
- Students will write creatively (or analytically) using a historical source as inspiration.
One class period (plus additional time for reading and writing at home)
Classroom Setup and Materials
- Computer/Projector (class could take place in library or computer lab, if available)
- After reading their selected book, students are introduced, in the classroom, to the scrapbook as an artifact from the time period they recently read about in a fictional context.
- Students view and discuss the images in the scrapbook, either as a class or, if multiple computers are available, in small groups.
- Ask students to come up with key themes and plot events from the book(s) they read, and to discuss items in the scrapbook that relate to the fictional text. Consider addressing the following discussion questions:
- What kind of information does the scrapbook contain? What does it leave out?
- Does this scrapbook look like it could have belonged to a character in the book? Why or why not?
- What historical events are important to the plot of the book you read? Are any of those events touched on in the scrapbook as well?
- How is the scrapbook like a novel? Can we use it to piece together a story?
- Look at the penny holder on p. 38. What do you think this was for?
- How much money do you think a mile of pennies is worth?
Possible selections for a literary text that can be connected with the scrapbook content might include Thornton Wilder's Our Town, L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie or Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth. Additional literary selections that relate to the period, some of which may be appropriate for this grade level, are included in the 4th grade lesson plan, "Creating a Character, Dramatizing a Life."back to top