Day In History: December 1-15 Free Resources

More free resources from Reading Specialty! Check out these topics!

  • Eli Whitney
  • Nuremberg Trials
  • Alfred Nobel and the Nobel Prize
  • Marconi Nobel Prize
  • Saddam Hussein
  • Three Gorges Dam
  • Bill of Rights

December 1

December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus beginning a boycott which became important to the civil rights movement. 

Teaching students to analyze primary documents is extremely important. Use these links to extract information from primary sources and make informed judgments about Rosa Parks. This link from the Educator Resources of shows the original arrest records of Rosa Parks. Here you will find a manuscript of her reflection on her arrest. This is part of a larger collection THE  ROSA PARKS PAPERS from the Library of Congress. A collection of newspaper articles related to Rosa Parks can be found at

December 2

The Monroe Doctrine was issued on December 2, 1823.

Looking for a simulation activity? With this simulation from First Ladies’ Library , students divide into groups and take roles as leaders of Britain, Portugal, the US, Spain, Russia and Latin America. It includes the role of a spy in the Spanish group from the Latin America group. Groups research and interact to prepare for a World Summit. The resource includes suggested websites and the twist of a spy brings an interesting element to the activity. 

December 3

The United States Electoral College elects the President and Vice President of the United States every four years. Andrew Jackson is elected by the Electoral College December 3, 1828.

Understanding the election process is frequently confusing. A video by Khan Academy explains the electoral college in clear. Maps for an interactive map on the past 7 presidential elections and current predictions (based on polls) may be found here. 

December 4

The passage gives background on the Whig Party, a major political party active in the period 1834–54.The Whig party held its first national convention December 4, 1836. 

A links to primary sources related to the Whig party may be found here. PBS has a political party timeline which covers related events from 1836-1864 including Henry Clay, William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, and Winfield Scott. 

December 5

The Gold Rush began after President James Polk announced the discovery of gold in California on December 5, 1948

Plans for a board game based on the California Gold Rush. It will require some advance prep by the teacher before use. There are a large number of quality resources available from the Museum of the City of San Francisco. (Scroll down to the section on the California Gold Rush.) There are multiple resources including a timeline and quiz available at 

December 6

December 6, 1849, Harriet Tubman reaches freedom with the help of the Underground Railroad.

Pbslearningmedia has a complete Harriet Tubman/Abolition lesson plan. It includes the standards, a video with a graphic organizer for students to use while watching, discussion questions, a primary source activity with links to the appropriate sources, and a culminating activity involving comparing Harriet Tubman to a contemporary woman who took risks to help people. 

December 7

December 7, 1941, Japanese warplanes attack Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum has great resources on the Pearl Harbor attack. This includes documents (radio alert, press release, speeches, newspaper text, telegrams, addresses to congress, editorial cartoons, and images.) 

Differentiated Passages on each of these topics from Reading Specialty–click the title below the covers.


Passage 1 on each topic is written for reading level grades 9-10, passage 2 is for reading level grade 8, and passage 3 is for a reading grade level 6-7. Questions for each passage cover these skills:

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December 8

Inventor Eli Whitney was born on December 8, 1765.

This video from the National Museum of American History demonstrates the use of a cotton gin.

December 9

On December 9, 1946, criminal proceedings began against 23 German physicians as part of the Nuremberg Trial.

Facing History and Ourselves reports to “help students connect choices made in the past to those they will confront in their own lives.” Their comprehensive lesson plan on the Nuremberg Trials, based on the 12-minute video Nuremberg Remembered.

December 10

December 10 the Nobel Prize is awarded annually on the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death (1896). has a website with background information on Alfred Nobel. Using the menu at the top of the website, students can read about the different types of Nobel prizes, biographical sketches of winners, and information about the nomination process. There are also a variety of lesson plans available for teachers.

December 11

December 11, 1946, the United Nations established the United Nations International Children’s Fund.

Students will have an opportunity to understand the scope of UNICEF by reading REAL STORIES based on REAL KIDS who have been helped by UNICEF.

December 12

Guglielmo Marconi invented the wireless telegraph and broadcast the first transatlaSntic radio signal. has an online resource Titanic, Marconi and the Wireless Telegraph. It gives biographical information on Marconi, explains how wireless communication works on ships, and explains the impact on the Titanic.

December 13

Saddam Hussein was a ruthless dictator who was head of Iraq from 1979 until 2003. He was an enemy of the United States during the Persian Gulf War and the Iraq War. Saddam Hussein was captured December 13, 2003. 

CNN has a timeline on Saddam Hussein from 1956-2006.

December 14

Construction on the 3 Gorges Dam in China began December 14, 1994.

An informational video about the Three Gorges Dam may be found on YouTube. There are many photos to share with students on this website.

December 15

The United States ratified the Bill of Rights on December 15, 1791.

Online simulation games can be a fun change of pace. In this simulation the student takes the role of a lawyer and has clients which come to their office with various legal questions. The student is tasked with determining if the rights of the client have been violated by applying the Bill of Rights. Click here for the iCivics game.

Differentiated passages (passage one reading level grades 9-10, passage two reading level grade 8, and passage three reading level grades 6-7) and comprehension questions available on each of these topics from Reading Specialty.

Click the links below to be directed to differentiated passages and comprehension questions available from Reading Specialty at TPT.