By Teachers, For Teachers

We understand that teachers are experts and know what works well in their classrooms with their students. Explore resources generated by teachers, for teachers; everything here is inspired by The Huntington's collections.

Lesson Plans

Ellesmere Chaucer

Illuminated Manuscripts: Textual and Visual Storytelling 
Grade range: 7–10
Time to complete lesson: 2–3 hours
Resources needed: student materials, blank paper, drawing or painting supplies (for each student)
Lesson includes: activities, vocabulary list, and student materials

Students will read and analyze an excerpt from The Canterbury Tales and look at and analyze the excerpt as it appears in an illuminated manuscript. Students will then create illuminated manuscripts for a piece of their creative writing.

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More about this lesson

By the end of this lesson, students will know:

  • People can use both text and visuals to tell stories
  • People often incorporate multiple modalities to convey meaning and create experiences for the story’s recipient

  • Stories are dynamic, and their meaning can change over time

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Read and interpret a pre-modern story
  • Discuss the ways in which illumination changes their interpretation of the story’s meaning

  • Identify the differences between their experience reading a story on its own and seeing the story with its visual components

Supported Standards

 

illustration titled Ferriage of the Platte

The Three Main Routes to California During the Gold Rush
Grade range: 4
Time to complete lesson: 1.5- 2 hours
Resources needed: Huntington primary source images and documents, Library of Congress source images and documents, chart paper or whiteboard, Library of Congress primary source analysis tool (provided)

Students will examine primary source documents relating to the three main routes to California. Students may write a journal entry from the perspective of a prospector or prospector's family member traveling to California during the Gold Rush era.

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More about this lesson

By the end of this lesson, students will know:

  • The three main routes to California and the difficulties and obstacles travelers may have faced on their journeys.

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Analyze various primary source images or written documents using an inquiry framework.
  • Work in teams to analyze and discuss a variety of images depicting the three main routes to California and discuss hardships and obstacles the travelers may have endured.
  • Write a journal entry from the perspective of a traveler making his or her way to California via one of the three routes.

Supported Standards

  • History-Social Science Content Standards 4.3.2: Compare how and why people traveled to California and the routes they traveled.

 

Waldseemuller Map 1507

A Perspective on North America
Grade range: 5 & 8 
Time to complete lesson: 40 min.
Resources needed: projector, Waldseemuller Map 1507, student copies of two Huntington maps, student copies of the Library of Congress Primary Source worksheet (two per student)

Students will collaborate with family members to identify a family heirloom that helps to tell the (hi)story of their family. Then, using photos of the object, labeled with gallery labels, a classroom museum is created.

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By the end of this lesson, students will know:

  • That maps reveal the limits and biases of human understanding at the time.
  • The ways in which the international view of North America shifted as a result of the American Revolution.

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Analyze primary sources and use that knowledge to frame their study of events.

Supported Standards

  • History-Social Science Content Standards 5.2.4: Locate on the maps of North and South America land claimed by Spain, France, England, Portugal, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Russia.
  • History-Social Science Content Standards 8.1.3: Analyze how the American Revolution affected other nations, especially France.

 

YC Hong holding his son Nowland

Family Story Gallery 
Grade range: K-12
Time to complete lesson: 2–3 class periods 
Resources needed: family interview questions, examples of family letters, photos and artifacts, a wall label handout

Students will read and analyze an excerpt from The Canterbury Tales and look at and analyze the excerpt as it appears in an illuminated manuscript. Students will then create illuminated manuscripts for a piece of their creative writing.

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More about this lesson

By the end of this lesson, students will know:

  • How historians glean information from primary sources, as well as make interpretations based on artifacts.

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Select, identify, label and explain a family heirloom that tells a story about their family history, and reflect on what information classmates gleaned from their artifact.

Supported Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.5: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, adn style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.7: Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

 

 

YC Hong holding his son Nowland

What's in a Label?
Grade range: 3-5 
Time to complete lesson: 1-2 hours 
Resources needed: copies of artwork and labels, blank art labels, student artwork, chart paper

Students will inquire about and then write their own art gallery labels. This lesson is best done after a completed class art project.

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More about this lesson

By the end of this lesson, students will know:

  • What is included in an art gallery label and label text and what they mean.

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • How to read and understand an art gallery label and label text.
  • How to write their own art gallery label and label text.

Supported Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

 

 

YC Hong holding his son Nowland

Mapping California: Evolving European Understandings
Grade range:
Time to complete lesson: 1-1.5 hours 
Resources needed: graphic organizer (provided), maps of California (provided)

Students will look at several maps of California to see what Europeans knew about California geography and then place them in approximate chronological order.

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More about this lesson

By the end of this lesson, students will know:

  • Why it took Europeans nearly three centuries to accurately map the California coast and to get a reasonably accurate sense of California geography
  • What people can learn about the past by studying maps

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Critically examine maps to observe changing understanding of the physical geography of California and the west coast of North America.
  • Place maps in rough chronological order. 

Supported Standards

  • CHSS.4.1 Students demonstrate an understanding of the physical and human geographic features that define places and regions in California

 

 

Teacher at Indian reservation with students

Community Members: The Voices of Our Community
Grade range: 6-12 
Time to complete lesson: 15 days (15-20 minutes each day) 
Resources needed: computer, LCD projector, worksheets (provided), journal (optional)

Students speak to, listen to, and write about members of the community. Students focus on forming descriptive sentences about the photographs, speculate about the contents of the photographs, and discuss character traits of community members.

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More about this lesson

By the end of this lesson, students will know:

  • How to use character traits to describe community members
  • Ways that communities are comprised of many people ding many jobs

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Speak and write about photographs

Supported Standards

  • College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading 6-12: Craft and Structure 6. Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text. Integration of Knowledge and Ideas 7. Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.* 
  • College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening 6-12: Comprehension and Collaboration 1. Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

 

Teacher at Indian reservation with students

Art as an Argument
Grade range: 9-12 
Time to complete lesson: multi-day lesson  
Resources needed: OPTIC method chart (provided, art pieces (provided), inquiry chart (provided), writing materials

Students will study the art of Californians and Californian imagery. Students will then create an argument based on a piece of art viewed in class.

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By the end of this lesson, students will know:

  • How to use the OPTIC Method to analyze a piece of art
  • The ways in which California is, and has been, home to many diverse people

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Create a question that they can investigate further based off of a visual presented to them in class.
  • Establish the significance of their claim and develop a counterclaim supplying multiple relevant evidence for both.
  • Write an analysis with at least three of the OPTIC Method identifiers.

Supported Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.1: Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.1.A: Introduce precise, knowledgeable claim(s), establish the significance of the claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that logically sequences claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.1.B: Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly and thoroughly, supplying the most relevant evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience's knowledge level, concerns, values, and possible biases.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.1.C: Use words, phrases, and clauses as well as varied syntax to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships between claim(s) and reasons, between reasons and evidence, and between claim(s) and counterclaims.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.1.D: Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.1.E: Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.

 

 

Photo of Vincente Abila

Life in California's Gold Rush
Grade range:
Time to complete lesson: 2 hours  
Resources needed: computers or devices with internet access, whiteboard or chart paper, worksheets (provided)

Students will examine the song lyrics, illustrations, and captions on a wood engraving to contrast the typical miner’s expectations of life in gold rush California with their actual experiences and to discover what daily life looked like in the mines. Students will use the information to write and illustrate a letter as if they were miners writing to their family and friends back home.  

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More about this lesson

By the end of this lesson, students will know:

  • How people can use both text and vignettes to tell stories
  • How perspectives on events can change with time and experience
  • The experiences of miners in the California gold rush did not match their expectations

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Read and analyze a primary source
  • Discuss what this primary source tells us about the Gold Rush
  • Describe the experience of a typical miner from the miner’s point of view

Supported Standards

  • CCSS ELA-Literacy RI.4.1 Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
  • CCSS ELA-Literacy RI.4.3 Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.
  • CCSS ELA-Literacy W.4.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.

 

The Western Brothers by John Singelton Copley

Inferring Relationships in Art
Grade range: 3-5 
Time to complete lesson: 1 hour  
Resources needed: projector, artwork (provided), graphic organizer (provider), chart paper

The students will use visual clues in art to help them infer the relationships among the people depicted in the artwork.

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More about this lesson

By the end of this lesson, students will know:

  • The ways artwork can tell a story
  • How we can use details in the artwork to infer the relationship between people

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Look for visual clues that might help them infer relationships between individuals
  • Use context clues to develop an idea about the represented relationship

Supported Standards

  • C 4.RL.1 Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
  • CC 4.RL. 3 Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).

 

Map of Texas territory in the 1830s

Texas, Polk, Lincoln, and The Mexican-American War 
Grade range: 8-11  
Time to complete lesson: 120 minutes
Resources needed: Huntington Library materials (provided), student readings (provided), graphic organizers (provided)

Students will analyze maps and governmental documents from the Mexican-American War. Students will evaluate the way these primary sources either challenge or support the U.S. government's justification for the war.

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More about this lesson

By the end of this lesson, students will know:

  • The history of Texas independence
  • How to identify territories in dispute during the war
  • The events of the declaration of war against Mexico by the United States Congress
  • The events and details of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Utilize maps/geographic tools to corroborate textual information regarding the Mexican-American War
  • Evaluate a major argument used to declare war against Mexico
  • Understand political, geographical, and cultural consequences of the Mexican-American War
  • Formulate and support an opinion on whether the United States' declaration of war against Mexico in 1846 was justified

Supported Standards

  • California History- Social Sicence Framework
    Chapter 18: Students study early territorial settlements, the political ambitions of James K. Polk and other proslavery politicians, and the war's aftermath on the lives of teh Mexican families who first lived in the region.
  • History- Social Science Content Standards
    8.5.2. Know the changing boundaries of the United States and describe the relationships the country had with its neighbors (current Mexico and Canada) and Europe, including the influence of the Monroe Doctrine, and how those relationships influenced westward expansion and the Mexican-American War.
    8.8.6. Describe the Texas War for independence and the Mexican-American War, including territorial settlements, the aftermath of the wars, and the effects of the wars had on the lives of Americans, including Mexican-Americans today.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy
    RI.8.9 Analyze a case in which two or more texts provide conflicting information on the same topic and identify where the texts disagree on matters of fact or interpretation.
    W.8.1B Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and relevant evidence, using accurate, credible sources and demonstrating an understanding of the topic or text.

 

The Western Brothers by John Singelton Copley

Persuasive Techniques in Letter Writing 
Grade range: 9-12
Time to complete lesson: 45-90 minutes 
Resources needed: Huntington collection items (provided), handouts (provided), assignment sheet (provided), rubric (provided)

Students will examine a personal letter from John Rollin Ridge to his cousin Stand Waite. Students will identify stylistic devices and structures and then practice using these devices in their own writing.

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More about this lesson

By the end of this lesson, students will know:

  • How writers use persuasive rhetorical, stylistic, and literary devices
  • The historical events that led John Rollin Ridge to write a persuasive letter to his cousin during a politically troubled time

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Use rhetorical, stylistic, and literary devices within their own writing
  • Analyze written work for rhetorical, stylistic, and literary devices

Supported Standards

  • California State Standards for Language Arts: Reading
    1.0 Word Analysis, Fluency, and Systematic Vocabulary Development
    1.1 Vocabulary and Concept Development
    2.0 Reading Comprehension (focus on information materials)
    2.8 Expository Critique
  • California State Standards for Language Arts: Writing
    1.0 Writing Strategies
    1.2 Organization and Focus
    1.4 Research and Technology

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