Sharing Our Past

3, 4, 5

Students meet their Senior Friends at the local museum to discuss state and local history. Students share what they have learned about history, and the Seniors share local history from their own experiences. Explore together the different reasons people came to the area.

Teacher Note: Arrange the date and time with the museum and the care facility and then arrange for transportation. It is helpful if additional adults can accompany the class. Remind students of using respect at the museum as well as for their Senior Friends. It helps to get to the museum earlier than the seniors so they can do a quick rehearsal at each display.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Hour-Long Visit at the Local MuseumForty-Five Minutes for Writing about the Experience

The learners will:

  • demonstrate caring for their senior friend.
  • speak knowledgeably about the state’s history.
  • listen and ask questions about the senior friend's first-hand experiences.
  • reflect on the museum visit in writing.

Notebooks or clipboards with paper and pencil for taking notes

Home Connection 

Invite Students’ family members to accompany the class to the museum. Use some of the students’ comments from their writing in the class newsletter.

  • Bradby, Marie. Momma, Where Are You From? 
  • Freedman, Russell. Immigrant Kids
  • Maestro, Betsy. Coming to America
  • Social Studies textbook for state history and reading text for stories about immigration
  • McGovern, Ann. If You Lived 100 Years Ago


  1. Anticipatory Set: Discuss some of the reasons people immigrated to your state over the years. Talk about the economic reasons that people moved in the early years of your state and the more recent economic reasons for change in the state. Tell the students that some of their senior friends have been in the state for many years and they may have first-hand knowledge about some of the changes that have taken place. Encourage the students to learn as much as they can from the seniors.

  2. Tell the students that during the visit to the museum with their senior friends, they will be both a teacher and a student! The students will be teaching their senior friends about the state’s early history. As they visit each display at the museum, the student shares knowledge learned in school, in books, and from previous visits about that aspect of the state’s history. Then students will be the listeners and learners as the seniors share their knowledge about what life was like in the state when they were young. 

  3. Remind the students to use the “life skill” of “caring” as they help their senior friends around the museum. If they need a chair or an elevator, assist them. Be sensitive to their needs. Speak clearly and listen respectfully

  4. When the class arrives at the museum, take the students on a brief tour to show the areas they need to take their senior friends. Give them a few minutes to preview each display and comment on the important points. When the seniors arrive, the students should greet their friends and lead the tour, sharing information about the displays, asking questions, and listening. The students should take notes about information learned from the displays and from the seniors’ stories.

  5. At the end of the tour, the students should thank their senior friends for participating in this visit.

  6. Back at the classroom, the students write about the museum experience. The writing should focus on what they learned, how they related to their senior, what problems or difficulties they faced in settling in the area. They also reflect on the best part of the trip and how they felt about the volunteering experience. This writing in its final form will be used in the book of Living History that is the culmination of this project.


Assess students’ participation in the museum visit by observing them with their senior friends and through their writing. The writing should include honest descriptions of what they learned from the experience. Look for expressions of sensitivity, awareness of the value of the seniors’ contributions and experiences, and enthusiasm for learning about the past and others’ part in the past.

Cross Curriculum 

Read about the service-learning project called POP Art! by Chardon Hills Magnet Elementary School students who were taught using this unit of lessons to guide student learning and action.

Dr. Ray is a teacher at Chardon Hills Magnet Elementary School in Ohio who said, “A Code of Ethics is needed, without this, our history will be lost. We are to enjoy serving one another without hesitation or placing cost to it. We must teach our children to honor and support their humanity by servicing other with kindness and humility.”

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.2 Discuss the importance of respect for others.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark E.1 Provide a needed service.
      2. Benchmark E.3 Describe the task and the student role.
      3. Benchmark E.4 Demonstrate the skills needed for the successful performance of the volunteer job.
      4. Benchmark E.6 Describe the procedures and the importance of sensitivity to the people with whom students are working.