Among Preservation50’s goals is to curate lessons learned from the past fifty years of the preservation movement to improve our next fifty years. Among the topics of interest are strategies for enlisting and developing future leaders. We have collected below some of the best-in-class resources for engaging K-12 students in learning about and advancing historic preservation. Let us know if you have found other great resources to add to this page.
- Next Exit History Lesson Plan-Charleston: Developed by Next Exit History in partnership with Preservation50, the goal of this lesson is to teach students the value and significance of America’s historic places through the study of how we as a country have worked at the federal, state, and local level to preserve our heritage through legislation and law.
- Next Exit History Lesson Plan-Route 66: This lesson plan is for 8th and 9th graders. The primary focus is the transformation and preservation of United States highway systems, with a concentration on the legacy of Route 66 and preservation attempts to save the “mother road”.
- Teaching With Historic Places: Teaching with Historic Places includes over 150 classroom-ready lesson plans that use historic sites as a means for exploring American history. All lessons are based on sites listed in the National Register of Historic Places, which include historic units of the National Park System, National Historic Landmarks, and places with state and local significance. Lessons are geared toward middle school students learning history, social studies, geography, and other subjects.
- Smithsonian Education: This is an existing catalog of over 2,000 teaching resources targeted at specific topics in American history, culture, and literature. It even matches resources to the state standards of education to meet specific benchmarks for students.
- Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development: The State of Vermont has an extensive list of existing curricula and plans to engage K-12 students. Their programs will serve as a great model for developing state specific programs.
- National Barn Alliance: NBA is a nation-wide, non-profit organization coordinating preservation efforts to save America’s Historic Barns. Our members are farmers and city dwellers, students, historical groups, timber framers, and lots of folks who just love barns. Educational resources are directed towards youth in grades fourth through twelve and cover areas such as math and social studies. They include lesson plans, activities, and videos.
- American Planning Association’s City Detective Lesson Plan: This lesson introduces students to the foundation of the town—its original design as it was recorded in maps and plans. Students will learn about the historic origins of the town and how it developed into its present form. In addition, students will learn about maps and their various uses and formats. They will use legal documents, planning tools, and historical documents.
- Girl Scout Historic Preservation Patch: Introduces girl scouts to historic preservation and includes activities to complete to receive a preservation patch.
- Every Kid In a Park: Lesson plans and free tickets for fourth graders to visit the National Parks.
- Explore Your National Parks:Historic Places Curriculum Tool Kit: Explore Your National Parks: Historic Places features lesson plans for grades five through eight that are based on events that took place in six national parks. Each lesson includes maps, readings, and photographs, all of which work together to explain the place and its importance in American history.
- National Park Service Archaeology Program Teacher Resources: Many disciplines such as mathematics, geography, cultural studies, and citizenship can be taught through anthropology. Archaeological activities can promote social interaction alongside scientific investigation. This site has tools, curricula, and resources for teaching archaeology to elementary to middle school aged children
- American Planning Association’s Kids Planning Toolkit: This comprehensive toolkit includes lessons, events, and seminars in topic ranging from historic preservation to sustainable city planning.
- NPS Youth Summits: Youth Summits in historic preservation topics provide exciting, on-site, interactive learning experiences for students and professionals. These experiences both encourage students to participate in historic preservation, conservation, and heritage tourism issues and also empower them to share their ideas with leaders in these fields
- My Neighborhood, My Heritage: Detroit kids armed with disposable cameras explored the preservation efforts in their neighborhoods on a walking tour. A replication of this event could have a large payoff.
- Kids Building Fair: The Preservation and Conservation Association, in partnership with the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum, began the Kids’ Building Fair in 1992 to introduce and interest children (and, in turn, their parents) in the building trades as they relate to historic preservation. The Fair is a ”hands-on” activity where kids of all ages participate in carpentry, painting, plumbing, electrical work, plastering, tiling, brick laying, landscaping, and much more. The Fair is also geared to support the children’s museum by illustrating to the community how children’s educational activities are vital to the health and preservation of the community.
- Volunteer with the National Park Service: National opportunities for adults and children to volunteer.
- Watson-Brown Junior Board of Trustees: The Watson-Brown Foundation fosters civic responsibility and an appreciation for history by appointing high school students to the Junior Board of Trustees. During the school year, these students issue RFPs, research grant applications, and make site visits. Their historic preservation awards are made in June.
Fun with Preservation
- National Park Service Kids Resources: Resources include the Junior Ranger Program and free passes for fourth graders.
- Preservation50 Coloring Book: Download our free Preservation50 coloring book.