Lesson Plan

Title: Then and Now Photo Project

Author: Ms. Polly Werner

School: Dr. N. H. Jones Elementary

Grade: 3

Subject: Visual Arts, Language Arts, Social Studies


To gain a student's perspective of changes in their community through photography.


Artists convey cultural, social, and historical meanings in their works. Understanding of history can inform our interpretation of art, and works of art can inform our interpretation of history.


Students will:

  1. study other examples of "Now and Then" Photos.
  2. identify a relevant historical photo using the Florida State Archives and other resources.
  3. photograph a current photo of the same theme.
  4. share their ideas with others.


  • America: Then and Now by David Cohen
  • The Florida Photographic Collection
  • Ocala Star Banner
  • Marion County Remembers "Salty Crackers" - Number Two-Four by Sybil Bray
  • We Might Could and We Did by Darlene Weesner


  • Any materials that will aid in the research of your community (i.e. local postcards, old year books, etc…)
  • Computer/Scanner
  • Camera
  • Project Directions
  • Camera Survey


Make a list of words that come up in your class's research. Display them around the room so that students can refer back to them when needed.


Meet with the grade level teachers to explain the project and show examples. I found this to be helpful because of the amount of paperwork involved. Classroom teachers need to know what their responsibilities are. I found that 50% of the 3rd grade teachers completed the project with their students. The other 50% of the teachers left it as homework.


  1. "What is Old?" Encourage responses from the students to stimulate conversation. Have them follow up with "What is New?"
  2. Explain that artists get their ideas many different ways. We are going to become artists that look for and document changes around us.
  3. Introduce the book: "America: Then & Now". Show several examples, while encouraging discussion.
  4. Pass out the "Project Description" and camera survey. I found that most of my students had access to several cameras and to the Internet. I keyed in on the students that said that they didn't have either. I made sure that these students were given time to work in my class. Be sure to include your e-mail address to avoid many phone calls with project questions.
  5. Review the "Project Description" letter with the students and answer any questions that arise. Explain that they have many resources for old photos (internet, parents, local newspaper).
  6. After you have made accommodations for all of the interested participants, pass out the directions for the project and the Florida State Archives Deed of Gift form. Again answer all questions.
  7. That's all there is to it!!! You need to either get a volunteer, student, or yourself to scan in the photos and put them into the Archives' format.


Invite members from the local historical society to come out to see the projects on line and add their recollections and perspective to the students. They both will enjoy the contrast of the subject matter.

Note from Polly

“I approached this project from an art teacher's point of view. I am thankful for having a supportive 3rd grade team of teachers to work with. The whole school enjoyed the progress of the project. I underestimated how long it would take. I thought that I would be able to get the whole school to participate, but now realize that 3rd grade was/is enough for one year. I will definitely do this again next year. Organization of photos, resources, and permission slips are very important.”