6 Photo Study

Competencies: Social Studies, Social Studies Skills

Social Studies Skills 5.1: Uses critical reasoning skills to analyze and evaluate positions.

Social Studies Skills 5.2: Uses inquiry-based research.

Objective: Using a photo that depicts life in the past in Issaquah, students learn facts about Issaquah’s history.  Then, they use their imagination to write their own story about what is happening in the photos.

Materials: mounted photos in the kit, set of five laminated photos with information printed on the back (or Photo Prompts Slide show)


  1. Share one of the historical, laminated photos with the entire class. Discuss the photo by asking questions such as:
    • Who or what is in the photo?
    • What is in the background?
    • What do you think the people are doing?
    • When do you think the photo was taken? Why?
    • What objects are in the photo?
    • How does the photo look different from photos taken now?
    • Do the people look happy? Sad? Tired? Excited? Relaxed?
    • If you could be one of the people in the photo, who would you like to be and why?
  2. Look for details in the photo. What do students notice after looking at the photo more carefully?
  3. Use the information on the back of the photo to discuss the actual answers to many of the questions above. Explain that one way to learn more about history is to study photos that were taken in the past. Explain that there are many clues in photos that show us how people lived in the past.
  4. Share several of the other laminated photos with the class, ask questions, and talk about we know about the photo and what we don’t know.
  5. Discuss how we could learn more about the people and places in the photos:
    • Talk to someone who knew the people in the photo, or who were related to them.
    • Read one of the person’s letters, journals, or diaries if they kept one.
    • Learn about the professions that these people had.
    • Research the history of the places or buildings in the photo.
  6. In small groups, students choose one of the laminated or mounted photos and use their imagination to write a make-believe story about the people in the photo. 7. Students share their stories with the class. Discuss the difference between facts that we know from the photo and imagined things the students made up for their story.


  1. Write a class story about one of the photos, each student adding on one sentence at a time.
  2. Research one of the photos to learn more about it.
  3. Discuss how history could be misinterpreted if we only made guesses based on a photo. Often additional research is required to learn facts about history.


Activity 6 (PDF)
Photo Prompts (PPT)

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