Grade 5 Virtual Program

Learning About the Past From Artifacts


How do we learn about the past? In this virtual program offered through Microsoft Teams, Grade 5 students engage in the historical detective work of using artifacts to unlock clues about the past. Led by a Museum interpreter, students work with images, objects and documents related to Nova Scotia’s coal mining history and complete a work sheet to make observations, record information, and ask good questions.

Curriculum Outcomes Links

Specific Learning Outcomes (Social Studies):

5.1.1: Develop an understanding about how we learn about the past

Social Studies Skills:

Communication: organize data with visual representation; interpret primary source artifacts

Inquiry: form questions regarding historical inquiry; compare and contrast; make decisions; develop strategies to gather information; make predictions; gather historical information from primary and secondary source

Program Length

40 minutes


1 class (30 students)


The cost for this on-line program is $75 including tax, for a group of up to 30 students.


5 minutes:       Introduction

The program begins with a definition of key terms: artifact, specimen, object, image, document. Students will use several artifacts and complete a work sheet to make observations, record information, and ask questions.

10 minutes      Observing Images

Students look closely at an image of young coal miners from over 100 years ago and record their observations.

10 minutes      Recording Information About Objects

Students record information about a selected artifact (a miner’s safety lamp) by drawing a detailed picture of in in their worksheet.

10 minutes      Asking Questions About Documents

Students examine two miners’ pay envelopes from the 1940s and brainstorm questions about what they want to know, find out, and understand. The class discussed strategies for finding answers to their questions.

5 minutes:       Conclusion

The class discusses what they have learned about Nova Scotia’s past from the objects they have seen, and how they can learn about their own family’s history from “artifacts” at home.

Additional Resources

Worksheet: Learning About the Past From Artifacts (PDF 210 KB)

Information and Reservations

To reserve your program, please contact Andrew Phillips at (902) 755-5425 or email

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