History Labs, Part II

So, sounds good – where do you start?

Have you ever noticed that in your teacher resource books (and we’ve all bought more than our fair share) you’ll find an activity that looks great, but isn’t enough to build a lesson around? It’s usually an art activy, could be a choose your way through history story, could be a puzzle.

Those are great places to start building the stations around!

I also like the Mysteries of History series from Teacher Created Materials – instead of using the week they suggest, the “days” become stations.

You can also do it the old-fasioned way – google for ideas and come up with your own way to implement, or come up with your own idea entirely.  Again, some labs are station activities and some are simulations or art activities that take one or more periods.

Some of my labs from last year:

  • Cave Painting Lab – read the students an excerpt from Boy of the Painted Cave and then students used watercolors on crumpled natural and brown paper.
  • Civilization Simulation (from Hands-on History Ancient Civilizations) – this was a two day lab and the kids loved it – did a great job of showing the benefits of division of labor.
  • Make a Mud Brick – the students actually made the bricks at home, and then we tested them in class. Tremendous fun, but messy.
  • River Valleys Lab – students rotated through stations, writing their name in cuneiform on clay, making an Egyptian cartouche, using clay to shape Egyptian architecture (pyramids, columns, obelisks)
  • Greek Lab – hoplite shields out of paper plates, outlines of amphoras (urns) run on orange paper and colored in black marker, Greek Mythology concentration
  • Roman Architecture – whole class activity – students worked in groups of four to create this Canon Papercraft model – it makes a 3D arch that, if done correctly, will support weight. Very cool.
  • Byzantine Mosaics – I’ve done this many ways – I have a pattern that students can fill in with colored tiles, I’ve used baby food jar lids with beads and plaster of paris, and free form mosaics with paper, colored tiles, and glue.
  • Monastery Simulation – found it online, and I would love to post it, but I’m having trouble finding the link. Students took a “vow of silence” at the door, then rotated through the following stations – dormitory (mats on the floor where they just rested), the chancel (listen to gregorian chants and reflect), the scriptorium (copy text like illuminated manuscripts), and the workstation (students cleaned desks). They love this one, and actually come to understand why monastic life might have been appealing especially during the chaotic Middle Ages.
  • Feudal M&M’s – Students experience the hierarchy of the feudal system.
  • Leonardo Da Vinci – students rotated through stations – mirror writing, examining the Mona Lisa, measuring their bodies to check for symmetry, match the invention cards (this is a collection of shorter activities I rarely had time to “get to” before I discovered this format)

And that’s just a sampling. Most of these took no more than a day of class to complete, and required very little in the way of materials!


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