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7 Excellent Interactive Tools to Create Activites Around Primary Source Documents

February 11, 2014
Primary sources are resources that were first-hand created in a given period of time and never undergone any kind of editing or distortion. These sources are multimodal and they come in different forms. They can be artifacts, documents, pictures, recordings, essays, photographs, maps...etc. Now with the globalization of knowledge and the pervasive use of digital media, primary sources become accessible to everybody with an internet connection. However, the search for these materials is akin to a scavenger hunt and hence the importance of having a such a handy list  to keep for rainy days.




Today I am sharing with you an excellent tool called Docs Teach from The National Archive that allows you  to create primary source activities for your class.

The seven activity-creation tools provided by Docs Teach help students develop historical thinking skills and gets them thinking like historians. Choose one of the tools below to begin. Then find and insert primary sources and customize the activity to fit your unique students. To find primary source documents use the search functionality on the right hand side.



Present primary sources and challenge students to sequence them based on careful document analysis




Showcase an intriguing document or a pair of documents with tools to guide student thinking and spark classroom conversations.




Present primary sources as a string of documents and help students make connections among those documents and the historical events they illustrate.




Link primary sources to locations on a map to practice spatial thinking and understand the impact of geographic factors in history.




Pair documents concerning an event, concept, or figure with descriptions, questions, or other documents to show that the whole is derived from smaller parts.




Turn primary sources into historical evidence that students sort through and evaluate to draw historical conclusions.




Introduce students to primary source documents containing historical data and encourage them to consider the source, the presentation style.