In the best of all worlds, place-based education—a student’s learning about the natural and cultural heritage of the local community—is grounded in both subject content and civic involvement.  It offers students authentic opportunities to become actively engaged in their community.

  • Is your idea grounded in your curriculum?
  • Does your idea provide students with authentic audiences?
  • Does your idea involve the community in planning?
  • Does your idea allow for everyone involved to be both learners and teachers?

General Ideas

Look at what historic markers there are for your town. Who is missing? Propose a new marker to the state. List and application are here:

Research a historic property and volunteer to paint the fence or do other upkeep

Put an exhibit up at town meeting: Boost Higher-Order Thinking Skills through Curation

Offer to help the local library or historical society organize an aspect of their collection

Help the historical society create a facebook page or website

Offer to transcribe a set of letters from a period you are studying

Write letters to advocate for the preservation of a building in town

Podcast driving tour of the town–or make an APP for the town or History Pin

Collect old recipes, connect to local food, make a recipe book

History of the Town in 20 objects.The British Museum has an online project called the History of the World in 100 objects   Each object connects to a theme or topic in history.

Hold a “HIKE FOR HISTORY”—5K walk to raise money for history education projects (that could hire Flow staff). Create posters with historical info at various points along the 5K walk.

Hold a History Collection day for the historical society. Invite community members to bring in old photos. You scan them and get a brief story. Put them on online for the historical society.

Create a Time Capsule Archive project that captures the current year where each grade researches and then collects various aspects of the town. Exhibit it, then donate to the historical society. So, Kindergarten collects items related to holidays—posters for the holiday concert; 6th grade collects items related to businesses—menus from local restaurants, etc.

Do a photodocumentation of the barns that are left in town

Ideas: High School

  • Making mini movies of the town based on community assets is a small project.  This project could be shared with the library, historical society, chamber of commerce, or municipal website.
  • Have students research the history and function of their historical societies, then run the historical societies for a day.  They could also help scan, photograph, and/or transcribe for the societies.
  • Choose a particular war.  Students research a soldier’s story and document their story, creating enlistment cards and an exhibit piece, in the format of their choice.  The community is invited to a commemorative event and each person adopts a soldier, following him/her through the exhibit, including their fate.

Ideas: Middle School 

  1. Create a walking tour

    • focused on different elements, perhaps on architecture, business history, quarries, immigrants.

  2. Make a map of historic graves and connect it to “find a”

  3. Take pictures of graves and then look at hierarchy of needs for maintenance and give to the cemetery commission

  4. Make a booklet about the people for whom the roads, the schools, the areas of town, etc., are named

  5. Profiles of individual citizens from the town’s history

  6. Create markers (QR codes, or through official avenues) of historic significance for the town

  7. Students create a Valley Quest for the town

  8. Map overlays of various time periods to serve students and historical society as a way of considering landscape change

  9. Digitize historical photos and documents and upload to variety of web-based locations

  10. Write reports on the local impact of nationally significant events to turn into brochures available at the historical society

  11. Create a map that shows the ethnic areas in a historic mill town

  12. Make a timeline of cultural traditions from birth of the town til today

  13. Record interviews with elders in town (get it down before they pass away); could partner with Vermont Folklife Center; take photos of artifacts these elders own

  14. Find out about the veterans of various wars and where they live/lived in town

  15. Crowdsource a funding mechanism to support the work of some historic preservation project in town

  16. Create a chronology of all the buildings in a historic town center and put a display together for the historical society or at town meeting, etc.

  17. Upload old photos to the Landscape Change website and then geo-tag them for Google Earth and link their GPS location so viewers can end up standing in that spot and looking at the image

  18. Pick a person in town and create a personal journey for people to follow that person’s life story through town.

  19. Archaeological dig from a cellar hole in town; all that it is found is given to landowner, and hopefully donated to the historical society. Get kit from the Smithsonian

  20. Create a traveling education kit in conjunction with state or local historical society around a certain theme, and then arrange for it to be shared with other schools

Ideas: Elementary 

  • Save general store—Create an exhibit for historical society, incorporate into town meeting, how has store changed, letter writing project, fundraising
  • Historic photo of the week in town newsletter or website or social media
  • QR codes linked to different areas (buildings, people, Civil War sites…) in town
  • Catalog the architectural registry and history of buildings, businesses, and groups (organizations)
  • Oral History Project (people who have lived in town for over 10 years)
  • Add to the VT Landscape Change Project.
  • Yankee Ingenuity and reuse of materials. Quilting or rag rug making
  • Study farming and then begin composting, gardening, gleaning project

General ways to display and present your projects:

  1. Suppers in town

  2. 4th of July celebrations

  3. Display at town meeting

  4. Display at the historical society

  5. Create a thinglink, or some other sort of website for people to view; maybe link it to the town website

  6. I-movie that can then be uploaded to school/town websites, or sites that have broader scope, such as state societies, state landscape change websites.  Try to get it somewhere with lots of hits