In this challenge, students examine past and present life in a community by sorting pictures and other documents into those that depict scenes from long ago and those that are recent images. Be sure to include past and present pictures of rural and urban life. Provide the class with an enlarged photograph, a short video, an electronic image (e.g., a PowerPoint slide or an image on the Internet) or a poster to observe. (See References and Related Resources for several sources.) Through discussion, introduce the concepts of past and present (e.g., long ago at or before their grandparents' times, and recently in the student's lifetime). Ask students whether they think the pictures represent long ago or recently. Through discussion, develop criteria for recognizing the time period represented in the pictures (e.g., compare lanterns with electric lamps, fireplaces with ovens, electronic vs. manual appliances). In small groups, provide students with a variety of photographs or documents to examine (e.g., clothing catalogues), then discuss and determine whether they represent long ago or recently. Arrange students' sorted piles of pictures into two displays"Then" and "Now." You may want to further divide them into rural and urban settings.
As an extension, ask students to identity the biggest differences they have observed in the pictures between long ago and the recent past (perhaps also considering differences over time in rural life and urban life). You may want to adapt the chart and strategies for Comparing Differences (Support Material) to structure this activity.