Pre-visit Activities

Pre-Visit Lesson:

Activity One: Grades 2–5

Teacher Preparation: View website prior to lesson.
Time required: 30–45 minutes
a story about Rip Van Winkle (Check your library for a picture book, or read the story at


  1. Read the story.
  2. After reading the story, discuss the fact that all communities have histories.
  3. Ask the following questions:
    1. What happened when Rip Van Winkle napped?
    2. What changes did Rip Van Winkle find when he woke from his twenty-year nap?
    3. What has changed in our community since you were in first grade?
    4. What are some of the causes of these changes?

Additional Activity: (Grades 2–3)

Teacher Preparation: Using a large sheet of heavy paper, cut into puzzle pieces (one piece for each student). The pieces will be used to create a single puzzle.
Time required: 30–45 minutes
Materials/Resources: pencils, crayons, markers


  1. Discuss the following questions:
    1. What is a community? (A community can be defined as a group of people living together, studying together, working together, or worshiping together.)
    2. What does the word community mean to you?
    3. What do you find in a community? (Make a list of students’ ideas.)
    4. Can you belong to more than one community?  (neighborhoods, churches, schools, classrooms, friends at work, etc.)
    5. How many of you belong to one or more of these communities?
    6. Who belongs in a community? (Generate a list.)
  2. Using ideas from the lists, have children illustrate a puzzle piece that can be put together on a bulletin board to represent the community.

Additional Activity: (Grades 4–5)

Teacher Preparation: View website prior to lesson.
Time required: 50 minutes
Computers, access to the internet, paper and pencil for notes

  1. Using a graphic organizer (example organizer: list the characteristics of one of the important figures listed above.
  2. Students will break up into groups of three and role play. Assign one figure to each child in the group. Students will then interview each other. Suggested interview questions include:
  • Where did you live?
  • When did you live?
  • What did you do for a living?
  • What did you accomplish during your life?