Approaching the topic of slavery can be difficult, especially at the elementary school level when these issues might be discussed for the first time. Posted by the National Endowment for the Humanities, “Slave Narratives: Constructing U.S. History Through Analyzing Primary Sources” offers a helpful classroom solution. Students from third to fifth grade read and explore a selection of narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, after which they evaluate and respond to those sources.
The lesson plan gives several strategies for teachers and the class to review and summarize the narratives in accordance to their needs. In addition, “Slave Narratives” introduces primary sources in the context of a story, before asking students to assess the veracity of the testimony. In a very real sense the students are “doing” history and hopefully fostering an interest at the same time.