LESSON: Preserving Our Past
Grade Levels: This lesson can be modified easily to work at any grade level
(K-12). Modifications would include doing the Preserving Our Past handout orally
with younger or special needs children or having students draw pictures of the
community asset they would like to preserve and how it could benefit the community.
Illinois State Learning Standards that can be covered with this lesson:
- English – 4A: Listen effectively in formal and informal situations.
- English – 4B:
Speak effectively using language appropriate to the situation and audience.
- English – 5C:
Apply acquired information, concepts, and ideas to communicate in a variety of
- Social Science – 16A: Apply the skills of historical analysis
- Social Science – 16B: Understand the development of
significant political events.
- Social Science – 16D: Understand Illinois,
United States, and world social history.
- Social Science – 16E: Understand
Illinois, United States, and world environmental history.
- Social Science – 17A:
Locate, describe, and explain places, regions, and features on the Earth.
Science – 17C: Understand relationships between geographic
factors and society.
- Social Science – 18B: Understand the roles and interactions
of individuals and groups in society.
- Students will comprehend the importance of preserving history in their
- Students will be able to identify historical assets within their
- Students will develop an action plan for preserving a historical
- Students will understand the impact historical preservation
has on a community.
- Students who have visited the J.H. Hawes Grain Elevator will
see, firsthand, the result of community action in preserving history.
- Preserving Our Past handout
- Chalkboard, whiteboard, or butcher’s
block paper (or overhead projector or computer with display that can be seen
- Discuss with students the ways in which the J.H. Hawes Grain Elevator
had an impact on the growth and development of Atlanta and the surrounding communities.
- Discuss with students the idea that although the J.H. Hawes Grain Elevator
is no longer in operation, it continues to have an impact on Atlanta today in
its role as a museum. The community of Atlanta has chosen to preserve the grain
- Discuss other ways in which people preserve the past. Examples may
include scrapbooks that preserve family history, photos or videos taken to preserve
people or places that are no longer here, erecting monuments to tell about important
historical people, places, and events, establishing museums, and restoring historical
buildings, tools, vehicles, and other items.
- As a group, brainstorm a list
of elements of your own community (such as businesses, churches, farms, schools,
stories, groups of people, events, etc.) that have had an impact on the growth
and development of the community. Write students’ ideas
on the board (or use an overhead projector or electronic display). Point out
that these historical elements may in danger of being forgotten or even destroyed
and would not be there for future generations to learn from or appreciate.
as groups, partners, or as individuals, have students select one “historical” community
feature, story, event, or element that they feel is of historical importance
to your community or to the world. Once they have selected a historical element,
have them complete the Preserving
Our Past handout.
Learning Extensions and Possible Products:
- Have students write a persuasive letter (or essay) to the local mayor
or other appropriate official that attempts to convince the mayor to take action
in preserving the element they selected. (IL State Standards 3A, 3B, 3C in addition
to those listed above)
- With the help of local or state historical societies,
start a community campaign to “save” one of your community’s
- Students can create a poster or website featuring
the community historical asset to raise awareness. (IL State Standards 26B and
27B in addition to those listed above)
- Older students could research actual costs
and materials that would be needed for restoration (of a building) or publication
of a book (if the item to be preserved is a story or involves photos). (IL State
Standards 6A, 7C, 13A, 13B in addition to those listed above)
- Have students work
together to create a “community collage” that
represents several of the important features or elements that make their community
special. Use photos, found objects, newspaper articles, ticket stubs, fliers
or menus from local businesses, and other items to capture the essence of your
community so that someone from the future could look at the collage and understand
what your community was like at the time. (26 B and C in addition to those listed
J.H. Hawes Grain Elevator Museum: Preservation Primer
Preserving Community History, by Craig White and Paul Castelloe
Maryland Municipal League: Preserving
of California Archivists: Preserving Your History Brochure Series
PBS: Discover Your School History
Museum: Using Your Community as a Learning Resource: “Whatever
Happened to Main Street?” by David Weitzman.
Additional Post-Visit Activities:
- Have students build a model of the J.H.
Hawes Grain Elevator.
- Have students make posters advertising J.H. Hawes Grain
Elevator and the exciting things people can do and learn there.
- Have your students
report on what they learned at the J.H. Hawes Grain Elevator to another class
at the school.
- Have your students write a story or poem about a grain elevator
and the people who live near and work with it.
- Read From the Top of a Grain Elevator by Barbara Nickel
and write a poem or story about what you might see if you were at the top of
a grain elevator.