Kindergarten — My Oregon Experience: How Photos and Artifacts Tell Us About the Past

In this curriculum, children receive an introduction to historical artifacts and primary documents by examining and evaluating photographs and objects from the Oregon Historical Society collections. The unit culminates with the creation of a classroom museum, a “Museum of Us,” where students have the opportunity to share their own personal artifacts.

Enduring Understandings

  1. Historians use artifacts and photographs to learn about people from the past.
  2. My artifacts can teach people about me and my family and I can learn about other people and their families from their artifacts.
  3. Museums are an important part of our community and can teach us about our local history.

Learning Goals

  • Students will practice observational skills using photos and historical objects.
  • Students will practice evaluating primary sources.
  • Students will gain knowledge about the importance of historical objects and museums.

Menu of Lessons  

Pre-Visit Lessons

Pre-Visit Lesson One: Past or Present?

Students examine photos from the Experience Oregon exhibit and other sources as an introduction to “past” and “present.”

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Pre-Visit Lesson Two: What Can a Photograph Tell Us?

Students examine photographs and draw something they see as a beginning step to primary source analysis. Students consider how children from Oregon’s past are similar and different from them.

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Pre-Visit Lesson Three: Becoming Historians

Students work more independently to make observations and inferences about objects from the Experience Oregon exhibit and practice historical skills by developing theories about the artifacts.

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Museum Visit

Oregon Historical Society Museum Visit

Use the Experience Oregon Artifact Search Sheet to look for artifacts that students studied in the pre-visit and encourage students to find additional images that include children and families or objects that look like they would be used by families.

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Post-Visit Lessons

Post-Visit Lesson One: OHS Debrief and Connecting to Self

Educator debriefs the Experience Oregon visit with the class and shares a picture book with students to explore the idea of valued personal artifacts.

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Post-Visit Lesson Two: Planning for a Classroom Museum (A Museum of Our Community)

Each student “curates” an exhibit to add to the class museum focused on personal artifacts. Each exhibit will consist of 3–4 personal/cultural artifacts.

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Post-Visit Lesson Three: Hosting a Classroom Museum

Students host a museum of personal artifacts for their families.

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