NCSS Online Teachers' Library

NCSS has selected a collection of classroom activities, teaching ideas, and articles from Social Education, Middle Level Learning, and Social Studies and the Young Learner. Browse the collection, or search by historical period and grade level using the search function below.
(Collections on other disciplines are under development.)

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An Annotated List of Census Resources for Educators

--Pat Watson
Census in Schools,, is the official site of the Census Bureau’s K-12 program. The "History Timeline" is a great resource. Click on the "History and Pop Culture" icon to find it, as described in the accompanying article "Interdisciplinary Activities Using Census in Schools," by Janice Jefferson. Then see images and facts about Americans as they lived and worked over two centuries. Both brief articles are linked here:


History Mystery Lessons: Powhatan Culture / Lewis & CLark

--Jana Kirchner and Carla Judd

The Pullout of the Jan/Feb 2011 issue of SSYL comprised two History Mystery Lessons: The first was about Powhatan culture, and included a clue sheet about life in a Native American village.

The second (by Allison Helm, Kristin Pierce, and Michele Galloway) suggested placing 12 clues (each accompanied by a reading from Lewis's journal, 1803-1806) throughout the room, then inviting students to examine, record, and hypothesize about what they observe and read.

The learning environment in this method is described in detail in the article "History + Mystery = Inquiring Young Historians" by Jana Kirchner, Allison Helm, Kristin Pierce, and Michelle Galloway.


Piquing Student Curiosity with Title Pages from Works by Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau (Sources and Strategies)

--Lee Ann Potter
The title pages of three books from the Enlightenment provide excellent points of entry for student research into the origins of ideas in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.


George Washington’s Printed Draft of the Constitution and Mike Wilkins’s [em]Preamble[/em] (Teaching with Documents)

By Lee Ann Potter and Elizabeth K. Eder
A work of modern art humorously highlights the 52 words of the Preamble to the Constitution. A historical document shows, however, that these well known words underwent many changes before reaching their final form.


Letter to, and Paintings by, George Catlin (Teaching with Documents)

By David Rosenbaum, Lee Ann Potter, and Elizabeth K. Eder
A letter from the Secretary of War to painter George Catlin in the 1830s and Catlin’s subsequent paintings of Native Americans in the West help students explore the encounter of two cultures.


History Matters: An Institutional Approach Examination of the U.S. Constitution

By Tawni Hunt Ferrarini and Mark C. Schug
Studying the evolution of the Constitution can help young people appreciate how choices made by their ancestors continue to impact our economy today.


The Founding Entrepreneurs: America’s Prosperity

Gerald Gunderson
The entrepreneurs who spurred America’s exceptional development offer students a model of what can be accomplished when individuals identify problems and seek productive solutions.


The Course of the Republic: American Responses to Technology in the Nineteenth Century

Meghan McGlinn Manfra
This overview with teaching activities on the Lowell textile mill and Ralph Waldo Emerson offers creative approaches to studying the political and technological changes of the nineteenth century.


Letter by Stephen Decatur and Painting by Thomas Chambers Related to the War of 1812 (Teaching with Documents)

Lee Ann Potter and Elizabeth K. Eder
This article pairs a textual document with a painting of the related 1812 sea battle, underscoring the value of visual images in fostering new insights about historic events, people, and ideas.


The Constitution In Action (Teaching with Documents)

By Lee Ann Potter
Students take on the roles of archivists and researchers when they study primary documents at the Constitution in Action Lab.
(Includes an 1847 credential certificate naming Sam Houston as an elected Senator from Texas.)

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