Alphabet Soup: Rural America and the New Deal
This lesson explores three different New Deal programs, with a specific eye towards their impact on rural America. As well, it focuses on student engagement with a variety of types of primary sources. This lesson is designed as a self-contained class activity, which requires no supplementary teaching beyond the MoMS exhibition Crossroads. It is designed to be done in class following a visit to that exhibition, or within an after-school setting following a similar visit.
Age Levels Intermediate (9 to 12 years old), Middle School (12 to 15 years old)
Why are primary sources important?
- Direct engagement with artifacts and records of the past encourages deeper content exploration, active analysis, and thoughtful response.
- Analysis of primary sources helps develop critical thinking skills by examining meaning, context, bias, purpose, point of view, etc.
- Primary source analysis fosters learner-led inquiry as students construct knowledge by interacting with a variety of sources that represent different accounts of the past.
- Students realize that history exists through interpretation that reflects the view points and biases of those doing the interpreting.
This lesson aims to:
- Introduce students to New Deal programs that affected rural life and agriculture during the Great Depression.
- Encourage discussion of the experience of those programs in the context of the Museum on Main Street (MoMS) exhibition Crossroads.
- Help students practice using different types of sources as research material.
Students should be able to:
- Identify different types of sources as primary and secondary sources, as well as differentiate between objective and subjective sources.
- Interrogate textual, video, and visual sources to build a picture of how different programs affected ordinary people.
- Be able to translate their research into a presentation, and teach it to other students.
See notes for lesson plan instructions.Read More »