Lesson Plan

Teaching with Primary Sources: Middle School

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

Grade Levels

Middle School; Grades 6-8


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 examine primary source documents in order to reconstruct the immigration story of the Confino family, who lived on the Lower East Side between 1913 and 1916. 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.
  • Think critically about historic records.
  • Make inferences based on information introduced by a primary source.
  •  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)
  • Zecharia Family Portrait (located in appendix)
  • Primary Source Guide (located in appendix)
  • Primary Source Guiding Questions (located in appendix)
  • Primary Source Packet (located in appendix)



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

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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