Searching The Attic

Learning Objectives

  • Students will conduct field research, including the use of a grid system, in order to discover important or interesting family artifacts.
  • Students will map discoveries of important artifacts on a grid map in order to track and better analyze interesting finds.

Tools And Materials

  • Students will need parental permission to search one of the group's attics.
  • Students will also need enough string to create a grid system in the attic. (See step 2 for how to determine the length of string needed.)


Teaching Stratedgies

  • Once students have decided which attic (or basement) to search, and have gotten permission to search that attic, have the student whose house will be used bring in a scale drawing of the attic. Have their parent mark off any area of the attic that students should not search, either for safety or personal reasons.
  • Have students use the map to divide the searchable area into 1-meter squares. Have students calculate how much string will be necessary to map out these 1-meter squares.
  • Have students create a naming system for the grid. Provide them with examples of a map that uses letters along one axis and numbers along the other in order to name the squares.
  • Students should agree on a time to meet at the appropriate house. Make sure a parent is available to ask questions and to supervise the search.
  • Instruct students to carefully search the house, looking for items of interest. Pay particular attention to any item that will relate to interesting portions of the interview.
  • If parents have given hints as to the locations of items, you may want students to note this ahead of time, so they can compare actual locations to predicted locations.
  • Whenever students find an object of interest, have them set it aside for later. Make sure they note in which grid square it was discovered and any other details about its location they can provide. Keep an accurate list of any items. Students may wish to label each item, using reusable sticky notes.
  • Once the students have separated out the interesting items, you may wish to instruct them to take photographs of each item.
  • If possible, have students bring the items in to class to display.
  • Have students predict how each of the items came into the family's possession and what the historical significance of each item is. Remind students, however, that at this point, they are simply making predictions, not statements of fact. These hypotheses will be tested later.


Standards from MCREL Standards

Standard 2.12:

  • Understands the nature of scientific inquiryUses technology (e.g., hand tools, measuring instruments, calculators, computers) and mathematics (e.g., measurement, formulas, charts, graphs) to perform accurate scientific investigations and communications.


Standard 3.2:

Understands the historical perspectiveKnows how to evaluate the credibility and authenticity of historical sources.


Standard 21.6:

  • Applies decision-making techniquesSecures factual information needed to evaluate alternatives.
  • Predicts the consequences of selecting each alternative.
  • Makes decisions based on the data obtained and the criteria identified.


Standard 22:

  • Working With OthersContributes to the overall effort of a group.
  • Displays effective interpersonal communication skills.