Back to School Games for History!

Hello, fellow educators!

Are you ready to go back to school?¬† I’m still hoping to binge another sci-fi show or two.

Image result for binge watch

But school is just around the corner and you have to start thinking about fun games and engaging activities for this year’s students ūüôā

I thought that I would share these sweet resources that I made and found success with.   They will help ease your pain when it comes to creating a fresh and new back to school activity to engage your history classes.

I call them “History Detective” games!¬† ¬†

They engage the heck out of my high schoolers, but I’ll bet this activity will work just as well in a middle school classroom.

They are way better than regular icebreakers.  It gets the kids working together right off the bat to analyze and understand interesting pictures and primary documents from history.  Some pictures are funny, some pictures are thought provoking.

Here is a sample from the World History version of the back-to-school activity:


The kids first see the pictures, and have to take notes about details that help them form opinions about the origins of the creature or what it is.¬† You can imagine the giggles this one gets ūüôā

Plus, we all know admin loves to see the kids working together and talking about something academic!  Very low prep activity too, all the kids need is paper, pen, and their brains!

And all you need is the projector and a laptop to connect to it ūüôā Plus your awesome and engaging classroom personality, of course!!

Click here for the U.S. History Version!

Click here for the World History version!

What sort of activities do you use to get the kids back in gear for the new year? 

Happy 2018!

Mr. P / Travelling Salesman



Heedful Hospitality

Click here for the part before.

“Elven…?” Robert repeated groggily. ¬†His memory was still fuzzy, and his head burned as if it had been set out to bake in the sun. ¬†Despite the pain in his body he pushed himself into a sitting position and let his eyes adjust to his surroundings. ¬†It was a modest hut. ¬†A once colorful rug covered the dirt floor with intricate patterns, the walls were the dark color of a local wood. ¬†A small fireplace was across the room, with a black kettle bubbling over the flames. ¬†It smelled pretty good, and his stomach rumbled into the quietness.

“Let me get you some food. ¬†This was¬†my Grandmother’s recipe. ¬†So you can guess that it’s an old one.” ¬†She cackled cheerfully like the elderly tend to do. ¬†She turned and hobbled away, a gnarled wooden cane steadying her gait. ¬†Her silver¬†hair was pulled into a bun and Robert could see that her ears were longer and drawn into a pointed tip. ¬†All at once completely alien and somehow familiar. ¬†Robert rubbed his temples, taking the edge off of¬†his throbbing skull.

Robert James Lowman. ¬†My name. ¬†But who… am I?¬†

“Here you are.” The old woman smiled and handed him the bowl. ¬†Her hands shook way too much, yet only a small bit spilled out. ¬†A thick brown stew steamed before him, carrots and potatoes and beef urged him to feast. ¬†Raising the first spoonful, he smiled as his mouth filled with saliva. ¬†Closing his eyes as he chewed, he gave a small moan as he turned the only-slightly tough meat between his teeth. ¬†The smell filled the air around him, and suddenly he felt emotional. ¬†He was missing someone. ¬†Someone who used to cook like this.

“Linda!” He burst out with a full mouth. ¬†He gulped down the bite and stared ahead, eyes pulled wide. ¬†He knew he was married to a beautiful woman, one he was blessed¬†to even know at all. ¬†Robert remembered some of who he was. ¬†They lived in a manor house far from here.

Nearly the other side of the world.

His heart beat faster in his chest, and he fought to keep the blood from his face. ¬†Robert was lucky these Elves didn’t recognize him, but that’s about as far as his luck stretched. ¬†His legs felt as if millions of needles were slowly prodding into them. ¬†He must have been thrown from his horse.

Why am I so far from the border?  Why did the Crown send me here?

“Linda? ¬†Who is she? ¬†A lucky woman to have such a handsome man worry for her.” ¬†The woman grinned at him with twinkling eyes, thinking of past times when Elves were forever young. ¬†When she still had her husband there to keep her warm during the long winters.

“I am the lucky one, truly.” Robert replied.

I can’t¬†let her¬†know I am from the Capital.

New memories were swirling into existence on the canvas of his mind, painted with an eldritch brush held by the skilled, long-fingered hands of ancient shadows.  They enjoyed using this world.  It was more diverse than the traditional universes they sculpted to lure their captives into false memories.  So many opportunities for chaos, so many shadows that could grow and tangle and twist the minds of corporeal beings to their hateful desires.

So many variables.

¬†“You’re a sweet man for saying that” The woman continuing to smile. “So I know your wife’s name. ¬†Who are you?”

“My name is R…Roger…” He trailed off and stuffed his face quickly with a heaping spoonful of the delicious stew to buy him time to think. ¬†His name was infamous¬†enough that he knew to¬†hide it from even this frail woman. ¬†And she was so pleasant! ¬†The only Elves he had ever met were on the battlefield as a younger man or in the secret laboratories under the Citadel, unknown to even the nobility¬†of the Imperium.

“Roger Theregin.” He said after swallowing his bite. ¬†He could feel it travelling all the way down into his gut. ¬†As if the potato was wrapped in guilt. ¬†Rubbing his head with one hand, he used the other to place the bowl on the table next to him. ¬†He knew he had to get back to safety. ¬†His mission was a failure, but he gleaned¬†some important¬†facts that he had to get back to the Council.

“Ohhh, a name from your East! ¬†You must be a farmer?”

“…Yes. ¬†My wife and I have a small farm right on the border of the Imperium.”

“We both know the Imperiums’ borders reach much farther than the lines on the map.” ¬†She laughed softly and shook her head. ¬†“Ever since that one¬†day all those years ago, we Elves have always lived in fear. ¬†Mortality such as humans know it truly is a burden to us like we have never borne before.” Robert nodded silently, as he slowly began to swing his pained legs over the side of the bed. ¬†He winced as the woman put her hand¬†softly on his shoulder.

“You should rest. ¬†Forgive the ramblings of an old woman.” Robert rubbed his thighs, urging the stinging away as best as he could. ¬†He must have been here for days. ¬†Feeling weak, he pushed himself up to stand. ¬†He placed his hands on his lower back and stretched.

“I am strong enough to relieve myself from your care. ¬†I wish I had some way to pay your hospitality, you were far too gracious to a stranger you scarcely know.”

“Nonsense” She waved her hand and shook her head with a solemn smile. “You are in an Elven home. ¬†We may be poorer than we were before, but these traditions of hospitality will never die. ¬†Even if we do.” ¬†He nodded with silent respect, and stretched his hand out to take hers, she smiled and gave it freely — almost blushing¬†as he kissed it.

“Truly, thank you” He said with real¬†respect. “I will come back one day to thank you for this kindness. ¬†For now I must¬†leave.” ¬†She grabbed his hand with surprising strength as he tried to release hers. ¬†He was startled, and looked into her eyes. ¬†Hazel, but darker. ¬†He felt a small fear grow within him before she smiled and spoke, reminding him of his own grandmother.

“Not before I pack you a bag of bread to keep you going!”

He laughed as he walked to the door, opening  it.  Looking outside as she prepared his bag.  The land was lush, clouds flew along on the breaths of cool wind.  People РElves Рwent about their day, some carrying water to their homes.  Some tending their modest shops.  Mountains watched in the distance.  He listened to the far Eastern birds sing their foreign songs.  Unheard to him, the old woman muttered to herself inside.

“Never before have I felt such smooth hands on a farmer.” She scoffed. ¬†“Roger Theregin? ¬†More like Lord something-or-other.” ¬†Placing the last bit of bread into the bag, she tied it shut with a bit of twine. ¬†She flicked her eyes¬†over to Robert, and seeing his back still turned she began to hold a hand over the bag. ¬†The smallest glow emanated from the tips of her fingers as she whispered words that twisted her tongue around in her mouth, and made the space within the hut darker. ¬†Even a skilled mage like her could not sense the devious pleasure of the shadows. ¬†The fire shrank and sputtered, almost going out as she resolved her incantation.

“Foolish human. ¬†To think that I would believe such a poor lie. ¬†And for him to believe my own!” Her lips pulled back in a toothy smile as she unconsciously ground her teeth. ¬†Even if this spell took time from her own life, it was worth it to help her son’s cause. ¬†The last hundred years left Elves mistrustful of humans. ¬†This ‘Roger’ was certainly an Imperial spy, sent to gather information on her family. ¬†The old woman began to shuffle toward Robert’s turned back, the smile transforming from the conniving grin to a pleasant beaming. ¬†Resisting the urge to take the large knife from¬†her left and cleave it into¬†his spine, she reassured herself with thoughts of her talented¬†son. ¬†So gifted with the arts, and with many friends he had spirited away into different parts of the world. ¬†Even the Capital of the Imperium itself. ¬†Reaching to tap Robert on the shoulder, she thought to herself:

“We are everywhere.”

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Calcutta, 1946

This is a story recounted to me by my Indian grandmother, who is now in her 80s. She lived in Calcutta through the late 1930s to 1947, when her family moved to England to escape the violence in the region. She was about 9, according to her memory. This period was just before the British Partition of the region based on religious population, where Pakistan and modern-day Bangladesh were created as a separate country for the Muslims, and India was made to be solely for Hindus and Sikhs. This action created the largest population exchange in human history. The story takes place on August 16th, 1946. A day that first was supposed to be known as Direct-Action Day, but became known as the Great Calcutta Killings. Within a short time, over 4,000 were left dead. Even more homeless after the fires died down. This event sparked several days of violence across India, with Hindus attacking Muslims, and Muslims attacking Hindus — the “Week of the Long Knives”.
My Grandmother’s family was upper-middle class, and their home stood tall and clean. They were able to hire housekeepers and pay them well enough to provide for their own families. She was raised Catholic, since the family was close with the British and wished to remain so, but the city itself was predominately Hindu and had a large Muslim population. The Direct-Action day was supposed to be a Muslim-organized peaceful protest to show defiance to the British rejection of the proposed 2-state solution, but quickly turned violent after the heat and fiery speeches turned the hearts of men darker than coal. There are conflicting reports on who started the violence, but both sides were guilty in participation of slaughter and ethnic-cleansing. Skirmishes lasted for days. Factories where Hindu workers lived were invaded and the walls coated in blood and gristle. Homes where Muslims lived were chained up and burned to the ground.
What she remembers is being on the roof of their home with her sisters, taking the day off because of the planned protest scaring her family into isolation. They had a milkman, whose name she could not remember, coming down an alley delivering his goods as usual. He was a young Muslim man, probably no more than 18 years old. Door to door he went about his rounds, and as he drew closer they waved to him. He smiled and waved back as several Sikh men appeared from the shadows and stabbed him with their knives and sliced with their kirpans, each taking their turn thrusting the young man between his ribs, back, and eyes as his screams turned to gurgling noises and silence. They continued their stabbing even after he was dead until they were exhausted and blood filled the alley. The sisters were frozen in horror on the rooftops, as one of the men noticed them and spoke:
“Sorry to have let this filthy Muslim get so close to you, friends!” They dragged the man’s corpse and shoved him down a nearby manhole and left cheering to themselves. About this time, smoke could be seen from the downtown area, as fires were being set to businesses and homes. 

Her and her sisters finally broke from their shock and ran inside, horrified. Luckily their father had the foresight to prepare for this. A detachment of British guards had been sent to their home to protect the family, and all day they remained inside. Screams and crashes mixed with crazed laughter and chanting echoed outside in the city, and crept through their windows. They were inside all day, mortified of what was happening outside.
As night fell, the violence subsided slightly. Every night she would go outside to look at the stars before bed, and out of habit she snuck away from her parents and sisters to go to the roof again. Smoke made the stars blurry this night, and fires burned creating strange shadows that flickered and danced to the music of chaos. She heard the awful sound of metal scraping against concrete, and ducked down behind the low wall that ran along the border of the roof. With the curiosity inherent to a child, she peeked over the wall to look down into the alley where their acquaintance was brutally murdered earlier. The manhole was being pushed aside from below, and when the creaking stopped there was a terrible silence for a moment. A man, clothed in shockingly white robes, came from within the man-hole. He climbed out, and looked around for a while. She recognized the young man from earlier, the milk-man.
“Impossible” she told me. “It was impossible for him to have survived that attack. And his robes were so white and clean, even coming from the sewers of Calcutta! But that was when he looked at me. I felt cold, but not the type of cold from an icy wind from the North. This cold came from my heart — no — my soul! I felt frost inside of myself, and I could not help but cry. I felt so scared and alone then, in that moment. And then he nodded to me, and began to walk away. Something was off, and I couldn’t figure out what! And then I looked closer. His feet appeared beneath his robes as he moved slowly away. They were twisted backward, completely opposite of a human’s feet. He walked toe-to-heel, as we walk heel-to-toe. My father always told me of bhoots, mostly as stories used to entertain us. But now, I have seen one. I rubbed my eyes to clear my vision of tears to get a better look. But he was gone. The silence was broken again and more screams came from up the alley. A woman’s scream, and men’s laughter. I ran back inside to be scolded by my Father. I never told anyone in my family this, for fear they would think I was crazy. But the next day we left the city under British escort, and my sisters protested as they complained about leaving their friends alone. But me, I just wanted to get away from that alley. From that angry, lost soul.”


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