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Spartan WalkEdit

Reenact Alexander's Spartan Walk to the Indus river. Have students remove their shoes and march single-file around campus or in a local park.

Bill of Rights TableauxEdit

Groups of three are asked to create a human sculpture/tableau based on their assigned amendments. For example the group with Amendment VIII would depict "cruel and unusual punishment". Groups then present their tableaux with the rest of the class trying to guess what is being portrayed.

Greek Democratic ProcessEdit

Students will reenact the Greek democratic process by voting on each others' proposals as the ancient Greeks did. Students begin by writing proposals (e.g. school should start at 10am, the US should remove their troops from foreign countries, college should be free, etc.) and preparing 1-2 minute persuasive presentations. On the day of the forum students can wear togas, etc and are given a black rock and a white rock to use for casting their votes. If possible, convene outside. Each student should present their proposal and then their peers cast their votes by placing a rock at their feet.

Group Survey Research ProjectEdit

Each group is asked to develop a research question, write a hypothesis, and develop a survey design. The design should include a questionnaire which has questions on the independent and dependent variables and parameters of who will be surveyed. Groups will report the results in a powerpoint presentation to the class.

Civil War PhotographyEdit

Civil War photography by Mathew Brady and more current work by James Nachtwey are shown and examples of using the lens to trick the viewer are discussed. For example, Brady lined up bodies to make a more dramatic statement. Working in groups, students are asked to go outside and take their own photographs that trick the viewer.

African-American SpiritualsEdit

Discuss themes of hope, sorrow and redemption. For each spiritual that is played, students are asked to discuss or write about what aspect of the slave experience that this spiritual captures. You can include a spiritual on a quiz later for assessment.

Mock Debate (Including Fake Beards)Edit

Have students stage a debate between Frederick Douglass and John Brown. Groups do research and prepare beforehand.

Gilded Age ActivityEdit

Each student is assigned a profession from the 1880’s (coal miner, teacher, President, John D. Rockefeller). They read a short bio about their person. Students receive peeps (marshmallows) based on how much income they would receive in the 1880’s. The disparity gap is made perfectly clear when the President gets 12 peeps and Rockefeller would get 30,000!

Entangling AlliancesEdit

Each student is assigned a country involved in WWI. Everyone stands in a circle and connect hands with other countries according to World War I alliances. Then the group attempts to disentangle…


(Follow the rules for " The Human Knot" http://wilderdom.com/games/descriptions/HumanKnot.html)

Second Great Awakening Film ProjectEdit

Create a plot and cast list for a film based on the historical period.

Middle Passage ReenactmentEdit

Have all students smush themselves to fit into a very small bathroom to simulate overcrowded conditions of slaves in the middle passage between Africa and the Americas. A very kinesthetic and (unfortunately or not) nasally stimulating experience – two minutes is all it takes before they are begging to be let out.

Enlightenment DrawingsEdit

Using both Voltaire and Montesquieu as examples, create a drawing that illustrates how the philosophers want to reform society and make people happier. Students share and explain their drawings.

Industrial RevolutionEdit

Break into 3 groups. Come up with a petition to the head of school to change one aspect of school life that you really hate. Include reasons why the policy is unfair, and what you would do to make sure that the issue is addressed in a better way.

French Revolution PostersEdit

Imagine you own a newspaper in Paris, and you feel that the King is out of touch with the common people. Write/draw/create a poster showing WHY the King is so out of touch which you will publish anonymously and post on lampposts throughout the city.Use material from class notes. (15 minutes) Stand in front of class and share your poster (5 minutes).

Trial of Charles I of EnglandEdit

  • You are Puritan members of Parliament in 1648, charged with putting together a list of charges against King Charles I.
  • Think about ways in which the King has tried to act as if he was an absolute monarch, testing and ignoring the traditional limits on royal power. Think in terms of: (write BOLDs on board)


1. personalityWhat don’t they like about him? What does he do that offends their Puritan ideas? As the groups discuss their questions, listen for answers like:He stutters, he wastes money on expensive paintings of himself, he is Scottish, he acts like a French guy, like an absolute monarch, etc.

2.politicsHow has he overstepped his bounds? Finances? Listen for answers like:11 Years of Tyranny, Ignores Parliament, doesn’t act like Queen Elizabeth I (who worked with Parliament)

3. religionWhat has he done that the Puritans hate so much? Listen for answers like: He has added layers of ritual to the Anglican service, he tried to force the English book of Common Prayer on the Scots, He married the Catholic sister of Louis XIII, etc.

4. civil warWhat did he do that showed that he really was an enemy of the English people? Listen for answers like: He hires Catholic mercenaries to kill English civilians, accepts money from the King of France

Have students volunteer to be

  1. Charles I – needs to be ready to answer charges of treason from the jury.
  2. Oliver Cromwell - who should write and present the general charge of treason (and the proposed punishment) to the king, and ask him how he responds


  • the rest of the students will work in pairs to come up with questions to ask the King regarding why he acted in (XXXXXX) way, which was clearly against the interests of the English people.
  • As soon as each pair has written down their accusation/question, they need to show it to Oliver Cromwell (the teacher should assist here), who will make certain that there are no duplicates – if they have replicated a previous question that has already been approved by the prosecution, they need to come up with another one. (If stumped, teacher can make suggestions from the list above). Each pair then decides which one of the pair will question the King.
  • each team of jury members should present at least one charge against him, one by one, and have Charles respond to each charge.


I like having Charles sit at the desk at the front of the room, and to have each member of the jury walk up to him and confront him with their charges. Obviously this gives the kids a chance to be a bit silly, but it has been pretty effective in past years. After the charges are read and Charles has responded to each charge, the jury can confer (briefly) and come up with a sentence. It is pretty much a preordained outcome, but so was the real thing…and they like being able to tell the king he will be decapitated in public.

Humans Affecting the EnvironmentEdit

Students are asked to research one event from each category (see below). The next class, four big sheets of paper on up around the room entitled “Conflict”, “Food”, “Energy”, and “Real Estate”. Students are asked to write how each of their events related to the themes and to explain it in enough detail for someone who doesn’t know about their event. For example, on the “Energy” piece of paper, the student(s) who researched whaling might write “Nantucket Whaling: whale oil was used for lamps”. Then each group takes a paper looks for themes to present to the class to discuss.They also should attempt to find solutions to the common problems. So, for food, what trends can you spot, and what can we do differently now to avoid similar mistakes?

5 examples of Americans affecting the environment:

  • Centralia: Giant fire underneath a city for last 47 years when a trash fire caught a coal vein.
  • Buffalo Hunting: Europeans over-hunted bison taking only the hides and leaving the carcasses.
  • Bikini Atoll: Atomic testing site in the Pacific
  • Nantucket Whaling: Over-harvesting
  • Exxon Valdez spill: oil tanker spilled in Alaska in 1989

5 examples of the environment affecting people:

  • Potato Famine: Caused by watermold in 1840’s in Ireland
  • Hurricane Katrina
  • Dustbowl
  • Tambora volcano: erupted in 1815 in Indonesia but caused snow in summer in New England
  • San Francisco Earthquake

Risk!Edit

Play risk using Napoleon’s strategy (Logical Intelligence)

CartographyEdit

Create a map of a local battle field or historical site. (Spatial Intelligence)

Surrender at YorktownEdit

Using two paintings of the surrender of Yorktown and a first person account of the surrender, have student identify where the artists took liberties with their work. Also have they identify why and artist would "change history" in their painting.

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