First Grade

Student/Child's Life Past and Present

Empowered Learner
Old fashioned Black and White picture of school


Students will view items, videos, and photographs from the past and compare them to their lives now. Then, they will create an informational book to share what they learned using ABCYA Storymaker.

Students will:

  • Be able to compare life today and in the past (1-H2.0.4)

  • Be able to draw conclusions about family and school life in the past (1-H2.0.3)

Vocabulary Words:

  1. Past: The past is a time that is gone and no longer exists.  

  2. Present: Present is happening or occurring now.

To prepare for this lesson:

See Accommodations Page and Charts on the 21things4student website in the Teacher Resources. 

Directions for this activity:

Day 1:

  • Have items used in the past set out at each table along with photos of classrooms from the past
  • Examples: small chalkboards and chalk, marbles and jacks, quill and ink, abacus, etc, and/ or display pictures on the projector if items are not available
  • Ask students what they notice about the items and/or photos\
    • What is the item? What was it used for? What do we use now?
  • Show video Long Ago and Now- First Grade Social Studies (
  • As a class take the Quiz on: BBC: Bitesize How have Schools Changed - BBC Bitesize
  • Ask the students some of the differences they notice between the past and now
  • Show the video Education for Kids 
  • Review and discuss: 
    • How was recess different? How was it alike?
    • What things were used in the classroom to learn then versus now?
    • What items at home are different?
    • What did families have in the past that we do not have now?
    • What things do we have that they did not have in the past? 
  • Have students share ideas of what school may be like in the future, 100+ years from now 

HW: Have students ask someone older (parent, grandparent, a neighbor, etc,) about how their life was when they were a child

Home discussion questions that may be sent home: 

  • What games did you play when you were my age?
  • How did you have fun at recess?

Scavenger hunt challenge: Find 10 things at home that were not available when your parents were children.

Days 2 and 3: 

  • Ask students to share what they learned at home from the person they talked to.
  • Introduce assessment assignment: 
    • Tell students they will be creating a story to compare their life now to students' life in the past. 
    • The book will be an informational book to share facts about the past and the present.
  • Introduce ABCYA Story Maker. They will be using the app to create their book. 
  • Possibilities for Story Outline to give students: 
    • Page 1 Introduction: Type 1 or 2 sentences to tell what you are going to write about in your book 
    • Body: 
      • Page 2:Tell some things that were in a classroom in the past and what is in the classroom now. 
      • Page 3: Tell how recess was different.
      • Page 4: Share how your life as a kid is different from the person you interviewed. 
      • Page 5: Share some things that you have at home that were not available in the past that you use now. 
      • Page 6:  Choose one more thing of your choice that is different in the past than in the present
      • Last page: Ending - Type an ending sentence that sums up everything you wrote. 
    • Students may use the drawing option in ABCYA or print your storybook, draw pictures by hand, or cut and paste pictures. 
    • Students’ books may be placed at a station for all the students to view when completed.

Different options for assessing the students:

  • Observations
  • Check for understanding
  • Book Created on ABCYA story maker
  • Past and Present Picture Sort: Free download: Past and Present Literacy Center | 2nd Grade Social Studies | TPT (

MITECS: Michigan adopted the "ISTE Standards for Students" called MITECS (Michigan Integrated Technology Competencies for Students) in 2018.

Empowered Learner
1a. Students articulate and set personal learning goals, develop strategies leveraging technology to achieve them and reflect on the learning process itself to improve learning outcomes.

Device: PC, Chromebook, Mac, iPad 

Browser: Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Edge, ALL

App, Extension, or Add-on:

Education for Kids

How have Schools Changed

Long Ago and Now- First Grade Social Studies 

Past and Present Literacy Center


32 Ways School 100 Years Ago Was Different


Write informative/explanatory texts in which they name a topic, supply some facts about the topic, and provide some sense of closure.

Students will be able to identify how life was in the past and present for students.

This task card was created by Nicole Monahan, Michigan. February 2024.