Lesson Plan 1

History Center Excursion

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The letters, poems and photographs of Jay G. Sigmund found on this Website are recommended for grades 4-8.

The activities are designed to help students understand, interpret and appreciate the life of Jay G. Sigmund, a businessman who lived in Cedar Rapids, Iowa during the first half of the 20th century.

Activities require students to work as museum curators. They will interpret artifacts such as biographical information, a letter, poems and photographs to discover the story these resources contain.

Following the scientific method, students will start by forming hypotheses or "guesses" about the meaning of an object. Their hypotheses will then be tested by consulting sources of evidence that either confirm or disprove their "guesses."

For each source, suggested questions are provided on the classroom activities page. These can be adapted and applied as the teacher chooses.

Explore the following teaching and learning resources on Jay G. Sigmund.

  • Classroom Activities - Lesson ideas
  • Using Primary Sources - Definition of primary sources and the liabilities and assets of using them as teaching resources
  • Field Trip Guide - Rationale for field trips and activity suggestions for preparing students before, during and following field explorations outside the classroom
  • National Standards - Connections to national standards in the areas of history and literacy
  • Media Center
  • For Students - Step by step procedures student curators will follow when interpreting the historical resources related to Jay G. Sigmund.

Classroom Activities

Be A Curator

Interpreting Biographical Information on Jay Sigmund

  1. Review the "Be a Curator" activities. Students can work in pairs at a computer to read the The Biographical Information about Jay G. Sigmund.
  2. Have students review the documents. Guided research questions could include:
    1. Where was Jay Sigmund born?
    2. What did Jay Sigmund enjoy doing as a child?
    3. Why do you think he enjoyed those activities?
    4. What did Jay Sigmund enjoy doing as an adult?
    5. Why do you think he enjoyed those activities as an adult?
    6. What were some of Jay Sigmund's talents?
    7. Who were some of his friends?
    8. How did he influence his friends?
    9. How has he been remembered?Students should write two or three more research questions
  3. After students complete their research, a self-awareness chart asks them to list their interests and hobbies. They are also encouraged to explore the study of archaeology.
  4. This web activity can be used to teach or supplement units on:
    1. Early civilizations
    2. Archaeology
    3. General historical inquiry process
  5. Understanding the following key vocabulary words will be significant to the research on the life of Jay Sigmund:
  6. As students conduct their research, the following large group discussion questions will help to focus their work:
    1. How do archaeologists find sites?
    2. What is an archaeological dig?
    3. How is a dig set up?
    4. What are the tools of the archaeologist?
    5. How do "ordinary" things tell us a lot about how people live?
  7. Access the following Internet sites that provide supplementary information on archaeological digs: West Perry Archaeological Site
    Pictures of artifacts and an actual dig in progress. Simulation of an Archaeology Dig

Extension Activities

  1. As an extension of their research on the life of Jay Sigmund and his interest in archaeology, pose the following question to the class: What will people 2,000 years from now be able to tell about you from the things we use every day? What types of materials will we preserve for 2,000 years? Then display items such as a CD, a basketball, a piece of clothing, a DVD or an electronic game. Have students role play that they are archaeologists in the year 4002. Observing these objects and presuming that they have never seen them before, discuss the following questions:
    1. What is the purpose of the object?
    2. What does it mean to have found these objects together in one room?
    3. What do these objects, collectively, tell us about the people living here 2,000 years ago?
  2. Ask students to bring to class the following objects:
    1. Artifacts that are useful to most people today
    2. Artifacts that are related to work today
    3. Artifacts that are related to use of leisure time
    4. Artifacts that are unusual and/or of limited use to most people
    5. Artifacts that are likely to be long-lasting

After viewing each of the artifacts, assume that our civilization has come to an end and imagine what inferences future civilizations might make about us based on these artifacts. Write a story that might appear in a newspaper in 4,002 as a result of finding the artifacts that remain from our civilization.

  1. Bring in three or four actual artifacts (you can get them on loan from a museum) or pictures of artifacts or antiques to support the discussion. Ask students to develop hypotheses about what the objects were used for. Then ask them to identify what these objects reveal about the people who used them.

Field Trips

The Field Trip Guide provides things to do before your class visits the History Center and activities for your class to do after visiting the History Center.

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