Using Primary Sources
Video Summary: Examining primary sources and artifacts from the past gives students the chance not only to study history but to become historians and anthropologists themselves. Fifth-grade teacher Kathleen Waffle attended a summer teaching institute at Colonial Williamsburg to learn more about primary sources from the colonial period and how to use them with her students. After completing the institute, Ms. Waffle developed a unit to help students learn what life was like as the colonies began to experience economic growth.
In this video lesson, students examine two primary sources from the colonial period: an advertisement and a contract. Students use a graphic organizer to analyze an advertisement placed in the Virginia Gazette by a colonial silversmith. Then they work with a partner to translate a contract of indenture between a master and apprentice, rewriting the terms of the contract in their own words. Later in the unit, students interview local businesspersons to compare current business practices with those in colonial times, undertake a longer research project on life in the colonies, and put on a colonial fair.