Teaching Materials

Climate Illustration - Schafer | Zinn Education Project

The (Young) People’s Climate Conference: Teaching Global Warming to 3rd Graders

Teaching Activity. By Rowan Shafer. Rethinking Schools. A teacher adapts the “Climate Change Mixer” designed for older students as a springboard for a unit on global warming and climate justice. She asks, "How could I bring up an issue so big and abstract, so gloom and doom, with 3rd graders? How could I not?"
Time Periods: 21st Century
Themes: Climate Justice, Environment, Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights, Native American, Organizing, World History/Global Studies
Read More

The 1934 West Coast Longshore Strike

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond. Students “become” several of the social groups who participated in the 1934 Longshore Workers Strike—some of whom had to answer the question, “Which side are you on?”
Time Periods: 20th Century, Prosperity, Depression, & World War II: 1920 - 1944
Themes: Labor, Organizing, Social Class
Read More

Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives

Archive. A collection of resources and programs on the history and legacy of the Abraham Lincoln Brigades.
Time Periods: 20th Century, Prosperity, Depression, & World War II: 1920 - 1944
Themes: US Foreign Policy, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements
Read More
Catonsville Nine Website | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Catonsville Nine Files

Archive. Features documents, photos, and audio and video accounts about the Catonsville Nine who burned Vietnam war draft files.
Time Periods: 20th Century, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: Imperialism, US Foreign Policy, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements
Read More

Chief Tecumseh: “Speech to the Osages”

Film clip. Voices of a People's History. Dramatic reading of Chief Tecumseh's "Speech to the Osages" (Winter 1811-1812) by Deepa Fernandes.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849
Themes: Environment, Native American
Read More
Apalachicola River | Zinn Education Project

The Color Line

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. A lesson on the countless colonial laws enacted to create division and inequality based on race. This helps students understand the origins of racism in the United States and who benefits.
Time Periods: Colonization: 1492 - 1764, 18th Century, Revolution & Constitution: 1765 - 1799
Themes: African American, Laws & Citizen Rights, Native American, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance
Read More

Colored Conventions Project

Archive. A repository for primary sources and collection of essays about the origins, activities, and influence of the 19th-century Colored Conventions Movement that advocated for Black civil and human rights.
Time Periods: 19th Century
Themes: African American, Organizing
Read More
Eduardo Relero Apple Store in Madrid | Zinn Education Project

Congo, Coltan, and Cell Phones: A People’s History

Teaching Activity. By Alison Kysia. 28 pages. In this lesson, students learn about the colonial history of Congo, debate responsibility for crimes against humanity, and investigate the connection, past and present, between the exploitation of natural resources and violence.
Time Periods: 19th Century, 20th Century
Themes: Imperialism, US Foreign Policy, World History/Global Studies
Read More

Daughter of Earth: Reading, Writing, and Social Class

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. 7 pages. Students read a poignant excerpt from Agnes Smedley's novel, Daughter of Earth, and use it to think and write about how schooling—their own included—teaches lessons about social class.
Time Periods: 20th Century, Turn of the Century: 1900 - 1909
Themes: Education, Social Class, Women's History
Read More

The Draft Riot Mystery

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. Students are invited to solve a mystery, using historical clues, about the real story of the Draft Riots.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864
Themes: African American, Democracy & Citizenship, Immigration, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance, Social Class, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements
Read More
The Election of 1860 Featured Image

The Election of 1860 Role Play

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. A role play based on the election of 1860 allows students to explore the political debates of the time and the real reasons for the Civil War.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864
Themes: African American, Slavery and Resistance, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements
Read More
The Fugitive's Song | Zinn Education Project

Frederick Douglass Fights for Freedom

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. A lesson to introduce students to the numerous and varied ways African Americans resisted their enslavement, using the autobiographical Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849
Themes: African American, Slavery and Resistance
Read More
Factory workers | Zinn Education Project

Free to Think, Talk, Listen, or Sing

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond. 6 pages Students work with a chapter from Milton Meltzer’s classic book, Bread and Roses, to see the impact of late 19th century factory work on workers’ home lives.
Themes: Labor, Social Class
Read More
Thomas Jefferson Advertisement Runaway Slave | Zinn Education Project

Freedom on the Move: Rediscovering the Stories of Self-Liberating People

Archive. Digital collection and crowdsourcing project that provides access to information, through thousands of print advertisements, about freedom-seekers and their would-be enslavers in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Time Periods: 18th Century, Revolution & Constitution: 1765 - 1799, 19th Century, Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864
Themes: African American, Labor, Laws & Citizen Rights, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance
Read More
Hidden in Plain Sight: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Radical Vision (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Hidden in Plain Sight: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Radical Vision

Teaching Activity. By Craig Gordon, Urban Dreams, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project. 2003, updated in 2017. Lesson to introduce students to the speeches and work of Dr. King beyond "I have a dream."
Time Periods: 20th Century, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: Civil Rights Movements, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements
Read More
collage of six Black abolitionists in the United States.

‘If There Is No Struggle…’: Teaching a People’s History of the Abolition Movement

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. 16 pages. Rethinking Schools. In this role play, students become members of the American Anti-Slavery Society, facing many of the real challenges to ending slavery.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights, Organizing, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance
Read More

It’s a Mystery—White Workers Against Black Workers

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond. 8 pages. In this “mystery” activity, students receive clues and discuss some of the factors that contributed to the intensification of racism in the 1920s in the United States.
Themes: African American, Labor, Racism & Racial Identity
Read More

Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Online Archive

Archive. Collection of firsthand accounts and primary sources of the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII.
Time Periods: 20th Century, Prosperity, Depression, & World War II: 1920 - 1944
Themes: Asian American, Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights, Racism & Racial Identity, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements
Read More