Hello! Today, I’m sharing a bunch of learning activities you can do with your students to study historic photographs. One of the best places to find historic photographs to use as primary sources in your lessons is the Library of Congress. Check out their amazing online collection of photos and then use these activities below to help your students study the photographs carefully.
This below photograph analysis learning activities are available in a free download with a photograph analysis worksheet!
Looking Questions and Photograph Analysis Worksheet
Look at a photograph together and talk about how the details of the photograph can tell us about the people and places of the past. Use the following questions to continue the discussion.
- What do you notice? What do you see that makes you say that?
- Study each person and object in the picture. What can you tell based on these observations?
- What are the people doing?
- Describe the environment. What would it be like to live here? What sounds would you hear? What would you smell?
- What may have happened before this scene? What might happen after?
- When a student makes an observation, ask the student how he or she knows that. For example, if the student says “she’s farming,” ask “what do you see that makes you say that?” This will help focus the student’s looking and allow the students to notice details and make assumptions about those details.
- What does the photograph tell you about the life of these people?
- Use the Photograph Analysis Worksheet.
- Cut up a photo into 4-8 pieces. Divide students into groups based on the number of pieces from each picture puzzle.
- Give each student in a group one of the pieces. Have each student analyze the piece.
- After they analyze each piece, have students join them together like a puzzle.
- Each group member can then share his or her observations with the group.
- Students may then create an overall interpretation uniting their interpretations from the individual pieces.
Photograph Analysis Interview Questions
- Ask students to imagine they will get to interview the people in the photographs and ask her about their lives.
- Have them write a list of interview questions they would ask the people in the photograph.
Writing Newspaper Articles
- Discuss what makes a good newspaper article. Make a list together of the types of information you would find in a newspaper article.
- Have students write a newspaper article using information found in the photographs.
Playwrights or Storytelling
- Have students analyze the people and events in the photograph paying close attention to characters and details
- Have students write a script that described the interactions in the photograph being sure to think about what happened before and after the events in the photo.
- Then, ask students to act out their plays for their classmates or family.
- Alternatively, student can write a story using clues from the photograph.
Photograph Analysis Drawing Activity
- Cut each photo in half. Give each student one half of a photo.
- Have the student draw what they think is in the rest of the photograph, being attentive to the small details and the story of the photograph.
There you go! Let me know how it goes in the comments.
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