How is everyone unique?
The uniqueness of the individual reflects the questions that one asks. The social sciences — psychology, sociology, economics, political science — are based on the assumption that human beings share common behaviors that can be studied and sometimes even predicted. Psychologists can classify common patterns of behavior as people respond in similar ways to certain situations. Abraham Maslow, for example, posits the existence of a common "hierarchy of needs," ranging from food and security at the most basic to self-actualization at the top. Most or all people will risk everything for the basics of life, but as those are met, they are motivated by goals that bring greater psychological satisfaction. In a similar way, sociologists analyze how different societies act when given certain pressures or opportunities. They observe behaviors and then analyze them to determine underlying patterns that would predict similar behaviors in future situations. Their disciplines are predicated on the assumption that people behave in similar ways under similar situations.
Stories of Individuals
The humanities — religion, history, literature — tell the stories of individuals. Each person or group has experienced the world in a unique way and retains those memories to form a unique perspective. While histories of different people may be similar, the humanities focus on the distinctions of a particular story. The history of the United States may have similarities to that of other nations, but our array of leaders, challenges, opportunities and resources has not exact parallel. It is the challenge of the historian to place the facts of historical development into an account that explains why the nation, state, group or individual developed as it, he or she did. The characters in literature may exhibit characteristics common to all but their stories are the unique creation of the author.
Depending on the goal that one seeks, one can focus on similarities or uniqueness. Educators observe how children at each level of development behave to provide the appropriate challenges and rewards and to develop curricula that those students can master. If there were no common characteristics, it would be very difficult to train teachers. On the other hand, each child comes from a unique background and family and has a unique story. Teachers must be aware of general tendencies based on age and intellectual ability but must also take into account a student's motivation and expectations.
Everyone has a unique story, but we all share common characteristics that define us as human. We are individuals, but at the same time, as members of the human race, react in similar ways to many situations.
How This Source Set is Unique
The first question is based upon an introduction to primary sources (images, documents, artifacts, maps, etc.) that can tell a person's story. The second question is dependent on the students, who will be asked to bring in items of their own that tell their story. Students will share their artifacts with the class in a "Gallery Walk," where they can place their items on the whiteboard ledge with a 0 to 5 years timeline written on the board so that students tell their history from infancy to kindergarten. Each student in the class draws a picture and writes a sentence about their favorite artifact, which can be used to create a class book to be given to each student. For students unable to bring sources, there are two supplementary case studies under the question that can be used instead: Ellen Douglas and William Aossey. The third question is based on what it means to be unique (individual sameness and difference). Students will have the opportunity to compare themselves to other stories through the lens of: family, activities, borrowing and spending choices, scarcity (a lack of something) and transportation/maps.
What artifacts help tell a person’s story?
- Birth Certificate of Bessie Bland in New York, ca. 1913 (Document)
- Family Living on Natchez Trace Project near Lexington, Tennessee, March 1936 (Image)
- Geography Lesson at Lakeview Project School in Arkansas, December 1938 (Image)
- Children Playing with Barbie Dolls in the Bronx Borough of New York City, 1970 (Image)
- Children Fishing in Rhode Island along Bonnet Shores, August 20, 1979 (Image)
How is my story unique?
*Students can bring in their own artifacts or teachers can use one of the two case studies.
- If students will bring in their own artifacts, below is some helpful communication to send home.
- Case Study 1: The Story of William Aossey
- Case Study 2: The Story of Ellen Douglas
- Ellen and Barbara Douglas in Front of Brucemore Mansion, 1910 (Image)
- Ellen, Barbara and their Nanny Ella McDannel Sitting Outside Brucemore Mansion, 1909 (Image)
- Ellen Douglas and her Sister Barbara Playing at Brucemore in Cedar Rapids, 1911 (Image)
- Ellen and Barbara Douglas on a Sled with their Nanny "Danny," 1910 (Image)
How does my story compare to others?
- Children Jumping Rope, between 1919 and 1921 (Image)
- Nursery School Children on the Playground at Robstown Camp in Texas, January 1942 (Image)
- German Refugee Child Reading a Comic Book, October 1942 (Image)
- Family Builds Snowman While Waiting for Lunch, March 1946 (Image)
- Children Running in Narragansett, Rhode Island, August 28, 1979 (Image)
- Little Girl Looking at Book in R.H. Macy and Company Department Store in New York, December 1942 (Image)
- Third-Grade Students Checking Out Books at School Library in New York, June 1943 (Image)
- A "Birdhouse Library" in Cheyenne, Wyoming, July 21, 2015 (Image)
- Child at a Toy Store, Date Unknown (Image)
- Vegetable Garden At "Beacon Hill House" in Newport, Rhode Island, July 1917 (Image)
- Lumbering in the Cascade Mountains near Seattle, Washington, 1921 (Image)
- Water Faucet by the Packing Sheds in Edison, California, April 1938 (Image)
- Corn Field in Drought near Hillsboro, North Carolina, September 1939 (Image)
- Children Waiting in Line for Water in Yauco, Puerto Rico, January 1942 (Image)
- Rogue River National Forest in Jackson County, Oregon, July 1942 (Image)
- Field of Sweet Corn near Marengo, Iowa, August 8, 2016 (Image)
- Failing Tomato Plant, Date Unknown (Image)
|Identity Teaching Guide|
|Printable Image and Document Guide|
Family Living on Natchez Trace Project near Lexington, Tennessee, March 1936
This photograph shows a family living in Lexington, Tennessee, on the Natchez Trace Project near Natchez Trace State Park. The name originally applied to a series of trails and paths that originated with animal migration routes and American Indian trade and travel routes…
Geography Lesson at Lakeview Project School in Arkansas, December 1938
Map of Syria, Date Unknown
William Aossey's father, Sam, and his uncles, William, Abdoo and Mike, immigrated from Syria-Lebanon, which was then still part of the Ottoman Empire, in 1907 coming through Ellis Island. Settling in the Midwest, his Uncle William led the way for working as peddlers and…
Dedication of Mother Mosque in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Date Unknown
William's family is Muslim. Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is home of the oldest building in the United States built as a mosque, which is a Muslim place of worship. Since 1895, Muslims have immigrated to Cedar Rapids in search of the American dream. William's family and other Muslim…
Ellen and Barbara Douglas in Front of Brucemore Mansion, 1910
Ellen (left) and Barbara Douglas (right) are pictured in front of their family's mansion, Brucemore, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. George and Irene Douglas had three daughters. Margaret, the eldest, was born in 1896. Nine years later, her sister Ellen was born. Barbara, the…
Ellen, Barbara and their Nanny Ella McDannel Sitting Outside Brucemore Mansion, 1909
Ellen (standing), Barbara and their nanny, Ella McDannel (also known as "Danny") are shown sitting together near the north side of the mansion. As they grew older, they enjoyed such treats as roller-skating in the hall and playing ping-pong on the dining room table. A…
Ellen Douglas and her Sister Barbara Playing at Brucemore in Cedar Rapids, 1911
Ellen (front) and her younger sister, Barbara, are playing on their family's estate in their swimsuits. The family lives in Brucemore, an expansive estate, which made for a generous playground for these young girls. Warm afternoons could be spent splashing in the pool,…
Ellen and Barbara Douglas on a Sled with their Nanny "Danny," 1910
Barbara, Ellen (back of sled) and their nanny, "Danny," are shown on a sled together. In the winter, the children went sledding and skated on the pond. The Douglas family had a large group of people who worked to maintain their house and large estate. Among them, was Ella…
Water Faucet by the Packing Sheds in Edison, California, April 1938
Rogue River National Forest in Jackson County, Oregon, July 1942
This photograph was taken in July 1942 and shows the Rogue River National Forest in Jackson County, Oregon. The U.S Forest Service has built camps with outdoor ovens, drinking water, sanitary facilities, tables, benches and shelter houses throughout the national forests.…
Nanai Family on a Dog Sled, November 1895
Boys Sitting on a Truck in Robstown, Texas, January 1942
These boys are shown sitting on a truck in Robstown, a migrant labor camp, in Texas. The state was home to several Farm Security Administration camps, where families had access to free medical and dental care, community gardens and nursery schools for young children.
Iowa Core Social Studies Standards (K)
Listed below are the Iowa Core Social Studies content anchor standards that are best reflected in this source set. The content standards applied to this set are elementary-age level and encompass the key disciplines that make up social studies for kindergarten students.
|SS.K.6.||Describe students’ roles in different groups of which they are members including their family, school, and community.|
|SS.K.10.||Give examples of choices that are made because of scarcity.|
|SS.K.11.||Explain the difference between buying and borrowing. (21st century skills)|
|SS.K.12.||Distinguish between appropriate spending choices. (21st century skills)|
|SS.K.13.||Create a route to a specific location using maps, globes, and other simple geographic models.|