Early Settlers of a Community

3, 4, 5
Keywords & Concepts: 
Introduces students to "philanthropy" as an important aspect of their community's development and helps them recognize the relationship between community need and private action.
Lesson Rating 
Print2-3 Class periods
The learnerwill:
  • create a Venn diagram comparing their community today with the early 1900's.
  • identify philanthropic efforts in the community in the early 1900's and today.
  • create an historical fiction story, using facts they have learned about their community at the turn of the century.
  • use technology (word processing and inserting pictures).
  • Any social studies text describing a community at the turn of the century
  • Information on the history of the local community
  • Photographs and/or pictures of the local community at the turn of the century


  1. Review definitions for the following terms:transportation: what people use to travel from one place to anotherhistory: the story of the pastsettlers: persons who move to a new place to make a homephilanthropy: private action for the public good
  2. Read a social studies text or resource describing communities in the early 1900s.
  3. Provide photographs or pictures and read early accounts of life in their own community. (Visit a local museum to see what your community was like at the turn of the century.)
  4. Discuss the following:
    • What might life have been like for the people of the community?
    • In what ways might people have had to depend on one another?
    • What needs did the people have at the turn of the century?
    • How might those needs have been met?
    • What types of volunteer organizations were there?
  5. As a class, create a Venn diagram comparing students' community at the turn of the century to what it is like today.
  6. This whole-group activity works well if it is broken up into categories. One or two categories can be covered for one lesson. You may spend two to three lessons on the Venn diagrams, comparing several things. Suggested categories are: jobs, transportation, clothing, food, technology or entertainment.
  7. Begin by writing on the chalkboard or overhead the name of your city and 1900 (e.g., Grand Rapids, MI-1900s). Next, list one category, such as Transportation. After reviewing photos, visiting the local museum, etc., list items under the category. Next to this list, create a similar list, describing your city today, using the same category. Students will see a clear comparison / contrast between then and now. Continue using several categories (recreation, jobs, clothing, etc.)
  8. After each category is compared, discuss the connection to philanthropy and how people helping people is as important today as it was at the turn of the century. Finally, after each category is diagrammed and discussed, have students stop and write a paragraph comparing "Then and Now." Students should write a paragraph for each category.
Class discussion and teacher observation. Student participation in creating Venn diagram. Rubric for writing assignment. Historical Fiction Evaluation: Story has clear beginning, middle, and end. 20 pts. Story includes 5-10 facts from comparison/contrast Paragraphs. 20 pts. Story includes information from at least two categories (transportation, recreation, technology, clothing, jobs, etc.) 20 pts. Correct grammar and spelling:Sentences begin with capital letterSentences end with correct ending punctuationCorrect use of quotation marks around direct quotes. 30 pts. Illustrations complement story 10 pts.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 04. Philanthropy and Geography
      1. Benchmark E.3 Describe the "characteristics of place" related to the school and neighborhood.