Investigating Primary & Secondary Sources in Social Studies {Hands on Activity!}

investigating primary and secondary sourcesAs a fifth grade inclusion teacher, I try to make a lot of my social studies lessons hands-on.  Lecturing to fifth graders and asking them to read straightforward from a text book does not always allow the students to make deep connections and make sense the content we are currently studying.

primary source interactive notebookWe began the year in social studies by discussing the difference between primary and secondary sources.  I explained that throughout the year during social studies, we will be using tons of primary and secondary sources to acquire information about what life was like during various time periods. 

To being the lesson, I provided my students with a simple definition for both a primary and secondary source to glue into their interactive social studies notebooks.  Within their table groups, they brainstormed different  simple examples to categorize as primary or secondary sources.

Once I felt like they had a basic understanding of the two, I provided each group with primary and secondary source sorting maps along with 16 task cards of specific examples of sources.  

primary source sorting map

Before sending the groups off on their own to complete their task, I modeled how to complete the activity whole class and expressed my expectations while working collaboratively.  The groups read the task cards and decided if the source is a primary or secondary source.  Once their group reached a primary source activityconclusion, they placed the card on the appropriate map.  

As the teacher, I walked around the room to monitor progress and provide support to students who were struggling.  I also gave some groups a clue that there was an equal number of primary and secondary source examples. (That helped them a lot!)

secondary source activityOnce the groups were finished sorting, they had an opportunity to create their OWN specific examples to add to their maps. They had a blast doing that! Some of them were
really creative!

We decided to share our maps as a whole class and the students especially loved sharing their original cards! Once we were done sharing, each group glued their task cards onto the maps and we hung them up so they can references them later on throughout the year.  

Click here to download the activity from my TeachersPayTeachers store! Enjoy! :)

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