Looking for Library of Congress materials that are appropriate for elementary students? In America’s Story from America’s Library (“America’s Library”) you’ll find lively stories from America’s past written at an upper elementary reading level, each of which features primary sources from the Library’s online collections.
Stories are organized into five categories: “Meet Amazing Americans” (biographical entries), “Jump Back in Time” (time periods and events), “Explore the States,” “Join America at Play,” and “See, Hear and Sing” (movies, voices and music). For an example of what you and your students will find, look at this entry on Thomas Jefferson.
I love to tell teachers about America’s Library because younger students can use it independently; older English language learners can engage with the content; and each primary source is “wrapped” in historical context and includes a citation that even the youngest students can copy and paste into a report. It’s never too early to begin providing proper citations.
Browse America’s Library to discover the wide variety of primary sources appropriate for your classroom. If you’re looking for a way to introduce a specific event or time period in American history, go to Jump Back in Time for a list of stories from a particular era. Here are some additional ideas:
- Have students select an entry from Meet Amazing Americans to find primary sources and historical accounts pertaining to important figures from U.S. history.
- As an “early bird” activity or class starter, have a pair of students go to Jump Back in Time to find out what happened on this day in history and select a primary source to display on a whiteboard or large screen. As a class, generate speculations or questions about the item before reading the story. Alternately, have students learn what happened on their birthday.
- Have students design a quilt, as suggested in Join America at Play.
- Visit Explore the States as you begin a unit of study on your state.
- Have students search for select people and events.
For more ideas for the elementary classroom, check out the article “Primary Sources and Elementary Students.”
How might you use America’s Library in your classroom or library?