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Wednesday, 12 August 2009 23:38

Lesson 1: Artifact Box

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Students will learn how historians analyze historical artifacts. Lesson includes discussion and activity.

Inspired by and adapted from website Black Americans in Congress & Barbara Blinick, George Washington High School, SF.


  1. Students will define, describe, and analyze artifacts.
  2. Students will analyze the relationship between artifacts and the historical record.
  3. Students will analyze the relationship between artifacts and their reading of history.

Procedure: (one - two class periods)

  1. To help introduce students to the upcoming activity, lead a brief discussion using the questions below:
    a. What are artifacts?
    b. Who makes them and why?
    c. How can artifacts be utilized by historians to study past events and people?

  2. Based on the class discussion, create a definition for the word artifact.

  3. Distribute the (Student Handout 1.1.1) Artifact Analysis Worksheet.  Review the directions and ask students to complete the worksheet while you model an artifact box you have created.  I have created an artifact box that has items from my own past. Some examples are old photos, id cards, documents like a high school diploma, articles of clothing, awards etc.  You can include as many as you wish, but include at least five items.

  4. After you have displayed all of the items and students have completed the worksheet, have them share their inferences in pairs.

  5. Then lead a class discussion on what conclusions they drew about the story that artifacts told them. This is a good place to also discuss bias, objectivity and the role of the historian.


Collect the students’ worksheets and evaluate class discussion.

Extension Activity

  1. Have students create their own artifact boxes for homework.  Tell them they can include up to five items from their own personal history.  Have them bring the boxes to you before class so that you can pair up students blindly.  Distribute another copy of the (Student Handout 1.1.1)Artifact Analysis Worksheet and have students evaluate the boxes and then discuss their inferences with their partners.
Last modified on Saturday, 29 March 2014 00:16

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