Day In History: December 16-31 Free Resources

December 16 Boston Tea Party

The Boston Tea Party was held in protest against “taxation without representation” on December 16, 1773.

Secondary students in AP or US History Classes or in AP Economics classes will benefit from the lesson “From Tea to Shining Sea: A primary Document-Based Unit on the Boston Tea Party.” The unit is comprised of 5 daily lessons which culminate in an oral debate and argumentative essay. Lessons are well-designed and complete–a great resource for teachers working with older students from the Massachusetts Historical Society website.

December 17 UFOs

Flying saucers? UFOs? Extraterrestrial aliens? December 17, 1969, the US Air Force stopped Project Blue Book which was a major investigation of UFOs. presents the 5 most credible modern UFO sightings. This includes

  • The Lights Above the New Jersey Turnpike
  • The USS Nimitz Encounter 
  • O’Hare International Airport Saucer 
  • The Stephenville Sightings and
  • East Coast GO FAST Video

The article links to additional articles and a video.

December 18 George Washington

 The first US president was buried December 18, 1799 at Mount Vernon. Read a brief history of George Washington.

Be Washington is an interactive activity where students face challenges faced during the Revolutionary War. Students listen to advice, make decisions, and learn as part of the simulation by the George Washington Mount Vernon library.

December 19 Hong Kong Returned to China

British and Chinese leaders signed a formal agreement approving Hong Kong’s return to China after more than a century of British rule on December 19, 1984.

This documentary shows Hong Kong right before Hong Kong’s return to China. The photography is excellent, but the teacher may want to cut and show only parts. The entire video is just over 56 minutes.

December 20 South Carolina Secedes

South Carolina became the first state to leave the Union on December 20, 1860. Read about this important historical event and teach students why South Carolina wanted to secede. 

Teaching American History in South Carolina website features multiple primary resources to help students understand what was happening when South Carolina wanted to secede from the union. A December 1860 speech from William King Easley of Pickens supporting secession can be found here.

An Ordinance to to dissolve the union between South Carolina and the other states can be found here. Click for a draft with supporting reasons for secession. These resources provide excellent opportunities for analyzing primary resources.

December 21 Walt Disney

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, a full-length animated film, was released on December 21, 1937.

Readwritethink has an interesting lesson on stereotypes as exemplified in fairy tales such as those found in Disney princess stories. The lesson culminates in an essay.

December 22 Holiday Decorations

Edward H. Johnson, an employee for Thomas Edison’s Illumination Company used lights strung together to decorate his holiday tree on December 22, 1882.

Architectural Digest features 30 slides of White House Holiday Decor Through the Years. Pictures are from Roosevelt to Obama.

December 23 Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh is one of the most influential painters from the Post-impressionist period. Although the exact circumstances are in question, historians believe the date the famous artist’s ear was cut off was December 23, 1888. 

Today as I was working on this blog post, a friend shared an article about a parade in the Netherlands which is a tribute to Vincent Van Gogh. Check out the photos of the flower-created floats!

December 24 History of Radio

If you would like your students to listen to old time radio broadcasts, check out this site. The archive includes adventure, children, comedy, detective and crime, drama, history, music, mystery, science fiction, super heroes, westerns and more.

December 25 Clara Barton

includes a short 3 min video giving students a quick 3 minute biography of the life of Clara Barton.

December 26 Boxing Day

WikiHow has suggestions for ways to celebrate Boxing Day. There are suggestions for each of four categories: being charitable, playing or watching sports, spending times with friends and family, and shopping. All these are traditional Boxing Day activities.

December 27 Louis Pasteur

BBC has a series of films looking at the development of medicine through time. It is designed for students ages 14-16. Video #4, 19th Century Medicine, talks about Louis Pasteur.

December 28 Endangered Species Act

The World Wildlife Federation works in more than 100 countries around the world. Their website includes information about the organization, activities for upper elementary and middle school students to do at home, toolkits on the tiger, sea turtle, elephant, and a biodiversity kit. There are free 45 minute virtual events which give students an opportunity to interact with experts in the field. These events are streamed from the website. There are also links to quizzes, games, and videos.

December 29 Wounded Knee

The PBS website has Lakota accounts of the Massacre at Wounded Knee. These are direct accounts from the Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for 1891. This is an interesting source for students.

December 30 History of Golf

A quick YouTube video of approximately 2 1/2 minutes goes through the beginning history of the game and prominent players in a short song and video feature.

December 31 Kwanzaa

A Discovery Education video What Is Kwanzaa? 5 Things to Know About the Pan-African Holiday gives a good overview of the holiday. The end of the video includes a quiz to check understanding from the video. The video and quiz take approximately 15 minutes.

Want additional resource for any of these topics?

Differentiated Passages on each of these topics are available from Reading Specialty. For each topic there are three passages with the same basic content. Passage one is written at a 9-10 grade level, passage two at an 8 grade level, and passage 3 at a 6-7 grade level. Each passage contains a multiple choice quiz to check understanding with the following types of questions: main idea, vocabulary, organizational pattern, inferences, and summarizing. A chart is provided for easy progress monitoring. Click on the title below the covers to be taken to the TPT Store for purchase or more information.