Communities: Past and Present

Grade Levels: 3 - 5


Students explore a Web resource to compare community life of the past with that of today.


Students will acquire information about community life in America's past and compare the past with the present.



  1. Go to Old Sturbridge Village and preview the site before you take the class there.

  2. Go to the online tour.

  3. View the map of The Common and Center Village. Preview the information on these places in the village: "Town Pound," "Center Meetinghouse," "Friends Meetinghouse," "Fenno House," "Fitch House," "Printing Office," "Bank," "Cider Mill," "Towne House," "Tin Shop," "Parsonage," "Knight Store," and "Shoe Shop."

  4. Tell students they are going on a virtual trip through time, to a community in America's past called Sturbridge. Help them locate Sturbridge on the map you've provided. (It's in south central Massachusetts, just north of the Connecticut border.)

  5. Go to the online tour of the Common and Center Village. Explain that a "common" is an open space in the center of a town. Have students look at the map of Old Sturbridge Village on the site.

  6. On the map, use the mouse to point to various locations. (Active locations include Town Pound, Center Meetinghouse, Friends' Meetinghouse, Fenno House, Fitch House, Printing Office, Bank, Cider Mill, Towne House, Tin Shop, Parsonage, Knight Store, and Shoe Shop.)

  7. Ask students to speculate about what might have been the purpose of each place or what might have taken place at each.

  8. Distribute the Communities, Past and Present worksheet. By clicking the locations on The Common and Center Village map, go to as many of the places as time allows. Help students confirm their speculations about the places by summarizing the information on the site for them. Make sure you go to the Tin Shop, the Printing Office, and the Shoe Shop so students can complete their worksheets. At each place you visit, ask students questions such as: Does this still exist today? If not, is there something like it in our community today?

  9. Give students time to complete their worksheets. Then review them as a class and discuss their answers.

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