Activities and Lessons

The activities in this section are for everyone. The activities are generally in the subject areas of Fine Arts, Language Arts, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences. Parents can do them with their children. Scouts could investigate some of them for agricultural badges. Artists, musicians, and writers can be inspired by the stories in the oral histories of our farmers. Gardeners can use the information on growing crops in the past to try some of the old ways.

These activities and lessons are standards-based, so teachers and homeschoolers can use them with their students. The lesson plans begin by searching by keyword, person, location, or time the ISM Oral History of Agriculture database of over 150 audio and video interviews of Illinois farmers. An activity is based on the information in them.

The format is less formal than school-based lesson formats, but the objectives, materials, procedures, and standards are built in. Included are extension of the activity with other Illinois State Museum Web modules, lessons, and online activities.

Below is a pdf file of a research form you can use to take notes when searching the database for topics.

Research_form.pdf3.63 KB
Fine Arts Activities


These activities involve combining oral histories with fine arts activities such as painting, drama, and photography.

Mills House by RoederMills House by Roeder

Language Arts Activities

These lessons and activities involve listening/viewing oral history interviews of Illinois agriculture.

Children Picking Apples by Edgar Sweet, 1895Children Picking Apples by Edgar Sweet, 1895

Natural Science Activities

These lessons incorporate audio-video oral histories of Illinois agriculture into activities about animals, plants, and soils, each in its own book section.

Haying on Sweet Farm, 1895Haying on Sweet Farm, 1895

Social Science Activities

These lessons incorporate the use of oral history as a resource to do social science research, write reports, create maps and timelines.

John Deere Plow, circa 1890s: Illinois State Museum CollectionJohn Deere Plow, circa 1890s: Illinois State Museum Collection