Hide and Seek On Mulberry Street with the Library of Congress

Kids of any age enjoy playing Hide and Seek. It all starts with the very young playing “peekaboo,” discovering their own view of the world and their place in it.

Mulberry Street, New York City

Vary the game with any visually rich primary source, such as Mulberry Street, for a quick but worthwhile classroom activity. A quick scan of this print reveals a crowd on a busy street. But a closer look draws in the viewer to see specific people. The setting includes items that suggest a feast for the senses–horses, wagon wheels, a cigar, a baby, fresh vegetables, and more.

Pair up students to play one of these two variations on Hide and Seek:

  • One student in each pair should choose a hiding place and imagine hiding there.  The student gives a series of sensory clues to help the other student “find” him. I feel warm pavement under my body. It’s dark, but I see some shadows. I see men’s shoes. Where am I?
  • One student identifies a particular person in the image, and then gives a series of sensory clues that will zero the partner in to identify the selected person: I feel the weight of a baby as big as me. I hear my friends goofing off. I put my face in a serious expression for the photographer. Who am I?

In both versions, the partner guesses based on the clues. Students can revise and work on hitting the right amount of detail in their clues to keep the game going.  Students practice many skills. When composing clues, students can engage purposefully with the “text,” use content-specific vocabulary, draw on background knowledge, and identify key details. To guess, partners must practice good listening comprehension, determine point of view and make inferences. The activity could be done at any point in a unit of study, to engage or assess students, apply skills, or build content knowledge.

Additional ideas for classroom applications:

  • Conduct a primary source analysis of the image as a warm up or an extension of the activity.
  • Consider how the photographer composed an image with details that come together to tell a story.
  • Ask students to write a story using the details they gathered, either about the whole image or about a particular person.

What other images from the Library’s collections might you use? Add a comment to give us your clues!




  1. Janet Bass
    September 21, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    This could be my favorite lesson idea for primary sources of all time!
    Thank you for sharing.

  2. Sherrie Galloway
    September 23, 2013 at 11:28 am

    I’ve also used Mulberry Street as a hide and seek with the following image for compare and contrast. It’s worked well with per-schoolers through adults. When asked, “What do you hear?”, one student said he could hear a coyote howling!

    Title: U.S. School for Indians at Pine Ridge, S.D.

  3. Dani Emings
    October 24, 2013 at 11:00 am

    I love this idea! I think that students can really relate to the game of hide and seek. Applying this familiar idea to an unfamiliar picture will help them engage and connect with the past by imagining they were really there.

    I’m thinking about modifying this slightly so that the students use their journals to write a one page entry giving me clues/sensory details, and I will guess where they are at after reading their entry.

    Thank you for the inspiration!

  4. Cheryl Lederle
    October 24, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Dani, We love to hear about modifications…if you have a moment, let us know how it works!

  5. Curtis Richardson
    July 16, 2017 at 11:25 am

    Interesting ideas for analyzing visuals that are rich in details. Preliminary research could really help too or try to surmise the date, the location, etc. based on what you have been learning.

  6. Heidi
    February 28, 2021 at 9:35 pm

    I think this ‘Hide and Seek’ idea is great and it could also be used when having student pairs analyze maps so I think I would use various maps found in the Library of Congress collections and have students try the ‘Hide and Seek’ activity then.

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