Lesson Plan

Teaching with Primary Sources: Upper Elementary

Primary source documents help us learn about people, places, and events from the past.

Grade Levels

Upper Elementary School; Grades 4-5


1‐3 class periods. This activity has been designed to be customized to your learning goals and your students’ individual needs. Choose to do the complete lesson plan or select parts with your students based on your schedule and objectives.


Students use primary source documents to piece together the story of Victoria Confino, an immigrant who lived in 97 Orchard Street almost one hundred years ago. Students examine a variety of primary sources in order to explore Victoria’s immigrant experience. They use their findings to write a biography of her life. Through this investigation, students learn how primary source documents can help us understand people, places, and events from the past.

Related Museum Programs: All, Uses content from the Meet Victoria program.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Understand that primary source documents can help us understand people, places, and events from the past.
  • Examine and analyze primary source documents in order to learn about a person from the past.
  • Learn how to compile research in order to get a more complete understanding of the past.

Essential Questions

  • How do historians learn about the past?
  • How can primary source documents help us to understand the past?


  • Confino Family Portrait (located in appendix)
  • Primary Source Guide (located in appendix)
  • Primary Source Packet (located in appendix)
  • Pencils


  • Primary source
  • Census
  • Immigrant
  • Naturalization
  • Ship manifest

Questions on lessons and activities?

The materials on this page can enrich a visit to the Museum or help you teach about immigration. If you have questions or comments, please e-mail us.

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