The Day Before
Language Arts and Social Studies Activity
Students create a magazine that captures what life was like just before a great
event of the 20th century.
WHAT YOU NEED
- Reference materials on major events of the 20th century
- Word processing and computer art programs (optional)
- Current magazines
WHAT TO DO
- Choose a major event of the 20th century and write its date on the
chalkboard. Have students share what they know about the event. Ask them to
think about what life was like just before the event and compare it to what
happened afterward. Possibilities include the start of World War I, Pearl
Harbor, and the Stock Market Crash of 1929.
- Explain that magazines and newspapers of the time help historians to
understand the impact a major event has on people and on history. Tell students
that each team is going to publish its own magazine to recreate the times in
which such an event occurred. The publication date of each magazine will be the
day before the event occurred.
Divide the class into editorial teams and have each team select one of the
following dates or a similar one of your choosing:
June 27, 1914
October 28, 1929
December 6, 1941
August 5, 1945
November 30, 1955
November 21, 1963
December 24, 1991
THE DAY BEFORE . . .
Archduke and Archduchess of Austria were assassinated
The Stock Market crashed
Japan attacked Pearl Harbor
The atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan
Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus in
JFK was assassinated in Dallas, Texas
The Soviet Union was dissolved
- Tell students that their magazines should represent as many as possible of
the following aspects of society: the arts (including movies, radio, and
television), fashion, sports, politics and government, and international affairs.
Suggest that they vary the formats of their stories, such as mixing straight
news, feature articles, and photo spreads. Advise students to study current
magazines to help them decide on formats.
- Have teams publish their magazines and make a brief oral presentation to
describe the big event that occurred on "the next day" and how that event changed life as it is
described in their magazines.
Instead of having students make an oral presentation, have them reenact a
newscast of the major event and have various "experts" describe how they think
the event will change society and people's lives.
Have students arrange their dates chronologically on a timeline and add to it
other major events. Encourage a discussion on if and how the events are
Some students might locate on microfilm newspapers or magazines for the dates
of their birth. Have them share what they learn about the world they were born
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