Lesson Plans: Being a kid 100 years ago

Lesson plans for teachers, grades 2-5, discussing what it was like to be a kid 100 years ago. Click to view the lesson plan and photographs. Downloadable PDF and images are also available.

This lesson plan focuses on understanding what it was like to be a kid 100 years ago. 



Grades 2-5

Author: Dr. Jenny Thompson

Director of Education, Evanston History Center



Lesson: Being a kid 100 years ago



  • Historic school photos
  • Games played 100 years ago (e.g. cats cradle, jacks)



  • Look at historic school photos. Ask students how life was different and the same for these children, living in Evanston 100 years ago? Some of these questions might spark discussion:
    • Did students then go to school?
    • What are they wearing?
    • What kinds of chores did they do?
    • What did they do for fun?
    • What might have happened 5 minutes after this picture was taken?
  • Examine the photo more closely. How old are the students? How many teachers are there?
    • Ask students which one of these students reminds them of themselves. 
    • Which of these students would they like to meet and become friends with?
  • Try some of the games that children played 100 years ago. You might want to set up stations with different toys and let students travel among them. Or assign them as activities for students to explore.
  • After students have had an opportunity to play these games, compare and contrast how they are similar and different from games played today. 
    • Are there any games that children played then that are still popular today?
    • Are there games or toys here that aren’t played today but that would be fun to own?