Gathering Information Research Procedures
Elementary Grades and Transitional ESL/Bilingual classes:
The class can work as a whole under the coaching of the teacher on one historical
object, or work in groups of 2 or 3, on one object per group. The activity can be
modified to research a natural object such as a rock or fossil by eliminating ques-
tions that pertain only to human-made objects.
Your goal is to research an historical object. You will be finding out as much infor-
mation as possible from the object itself. Follow these steps to learn more about
your object.
1. Bring an object to class to research (or the teacher or volunteers can bring some).
Object criteria:
It's old.
It's useful or decorative.
You don't already know everything about it.
2. Use the following list of questions to research your object:
a. What is it? (What is the object called? Does it have more than one name?)
b. How big is it? (measure and weigh it)
c. What is it made of? (materials)
d. How was it made? (in a factory, by hand; sewn, welded, glued, nailed, etc.)
e. What color(s) is it? (natural colors, paint, etc.)
f. What decoration does it have? How was this made/applied?
g. Does it have a maker's mark? (on the bottom or back?) Who made it? Where?
h. How old is it? How do you know? (the date is marked, the owner told you, you found it in a cata-
log or book, etc.)
What condition is it in? Is it damaged? Are there use marks (evidence of wear) on it?
What is (or was) it used for?
First answer all the questions you can by looking carefully at the object itself. Then look to resources to
find other answers.
Some sources are:
old newspaper and magazine ads or posters ( for examples:
old Sears and Wards Catalogs (for examples:
auction catalogs
collectibles catalogs or guidebooks
Internet (use keyword searches)
Grades 7-12 and gifted students:
An alternative or supplemental exhibit activity, with essay writing involved, can be
reached at
Start with the above questions, and go on to research more deeply using the follow-
ing suggested questions.
Gathering Information Research Procedures--page 1