One of my favorite ways to get students to attempt to connect pieces of historical evidence is to present the with a challenge or “mystery” that must be solved. I started doing this many years ago when I was teaching about Chinese history. I continued using this method when I began teaching U.S. History. If you want to try the same method, the following two resources will help you get started.
Historical Scene Investigation offers a fun way for students to investigate history through primary documents and images. Historical Scene Investigation presents students with historical cases to “crack.” Each of these thirteen cases present students with clues to analyze in order to form a conclusion to each investigation. The clues for each investigation come in the forms of primary documents and images as well as secondary sources. HSI provides students with “case files” on which they record the evidence they find in the documents and images. At the conclusion of their investigation students need to answer questions and decide if the case should be closed or if more investigation is necessary.
Who Am I? A History Mystery is a fun and challenging activity from the Smithsonian’s The Price of Freedom online exhibit. Who Am I? presents players with six historical characters that they have to identify using the text and image clues provided. To solve the mystery players have to match the visual artifacts to each character. The Price of Freedom offers a series of detailed lesson plans and videos for six major events and eras in US History. Those events and eras are War of Independence, Wars of Expansion, The Civil War, World War II, Cold War/ Vietnam, and September 11.