Library of Congress

TPS Quarterly

The Library of Congress > Teachers > TPS Program > TPS Quarterly > Research and Current Thinking

For each issue, TPS partners submit summaries of and links to online resources—articles, research reports, Web sites, and white papers—that provide research and current thinking relating to the theme. This issue's Research & Current Thinking focuses on helping teachers to use primary sources with elementary learners.

Achieving History Standards in Elementary Schools
This article summarizes research on children’s ability to learn history, examines the national standards and the purposes of history instruction in elementary schools, and describes teaching practices that develop historical knowledge, thinking skills, and interest.

Applying KWL Guides to Sources with Elementary Students
The author of this article suggests that KWL Guides — what do I know, what do I want to know, what have I learned — offer a straightforward way to engage elementary students in historical investigation and source analysis. She discusses how to prepare for using KWL guides, procedures for using them in the classroom, and common pitfalls of the strategy.

Back When God Was Around and Everything: Elementary Children’s Understanding of Historical Time
This study investigated elementary school students’ understanding of historical time. It concluded that even the youngest students made some basic distinctions in historical time and that those distinctions became increasingly differentiated with age. The study also found that dates had little meaning for students before third grade and only by fifth grade did students extensively connect particular dates with specific background knowledge.

Bringing History Home: A K-5 Curriculum Design
This article describes the curriculum and outcomes of Bringing History Home (BHH), an elementary history curriculum and professional development project, and explores how its design was informed and aligns with theory and research in history education. Visit Bringing History Home for additional information.

The Evidence Base for Social Studies: Social Studies in Elementary Education
This article provides a research literature review highlighting the role of social studies in elementary education and what social studies looks like in the elementary school classroom. The author lists questions teachers can ask themselves when constructing or using cross-curriculum lesson to teach social studies.

Playing with History
This article summarizes research conducted by faculty at a Fairfax, Virginia elementary school on the question: “How can I meet the SOL (Standards of Learning) and POS (Program of Studies) objectives and still keep play alive in my K-1 classroom?”

Powerful and Purposeful Teaching and Learning in Elementary Social Studies
This position paper from the National Council for Social Studies (NCSS) describes the purpose of elementary social studies and details the NCSS’s position that teaching and learning in the elementary classroom should be meaningful, integrative, value-based, challenging, and active. It also discusses recommendations for implementing powerful and purposeful elementary social studies.

Using Digital Primary Sources to Teach Historical Perspective to Preservice Teachers
This article focuses on the use of digital primary sources to teach historical perspective to preservice teachers. Discussed here are the experiences of 90 elementary education majors during their inquiry-based elementary social studies methods course. A variety of digital primary sources were used to teach historical perspective and to model teaching strategies for use in elementary classrooms.

Using Primary Sources in the Primary Grades
“What do a stamped Christmas postcard dated 1910, a Confederate one hundred dollar bill, soda pop bottles from Egypt, ice tongs, a rug beater, and a woven prayer rug from the Middle East with a picture of the Kaaba at Mecca all have in common? These and many other artifacts are primary sources, the very real "stuff" of the social studies that can so effectively engage the young learner in active learning. The use of primary sources in the classroom is a way for students to develop the intellectual curiosity that leads to further research and increased awareness of the world around them.”