Primary and Secondary Sources Lesson Plans

For thousands of years, Historians have relied on a series of methods to uncover the past that rely on primary sources. As students begin or continue to learn history, it is vital for them to have a rich understanding of how and where to get their information. Primary and secondary sources allow students and historians to take a look into the past or explore how past historical events and figures have been perceived. In order to make authentic and meaningful connections to the past, students must use primary sources to get a first-hand account of the people, events, conflicts, ideas, and themes that have occurred in the past.

Student Activities for Primary and Secondary Sources

With the help of the activities in this lesson plan, students will create rich and interactive storyboards that demonstrate their understanding of the use of primary and secondary sources throughout history. Students will first learn how to source a document by developing the proper ways of questioning a document in order to see the credibility and reliability of the source. Students will also evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of using a primary and secondary source in their research. Students can identify the differences between a primary and secondary source with a hands-on approach that uses authentic and significant sources throughout history. Finally, students will take the core knowledge they've learned to create a summative work of a major historical primary source that demonstrates their understanding of the chosen document.

Sources Key Vocabulary

  • Primary Source
  • Secondary Source
  • Artifact
  • Perspective
  • Reliability
  • Bias
  • Context
  • Source
  • Document
  • Accuracy
  • Recreate
  • Evaluate

Discussion Questions for Sources

  1. What are the differences between a primary and secondary source?
  2. How do you source a document?
  3. How can primary source documents help us to understand the past?
  4. What are the strengths and weaknesses of primary and secondary sources?

Image Attributions
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