Time Machine

Language Arts and Social Studies Activity

Students research and roleplay an interview with a person from the past to learn about important events in history.



  1. Divide the class into pairs. Ask students to think of places in North America and the Caribbean that are rich with history. (for example: Mexico City's Plaza de las Tres Culturas, the White House, the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the city of Quebec, Ellis Island, the U.S. Supreme Court, the city of Santo Domingo.)

  2. Tell students that one of them in the pair will be a time traveling interviewer and the other will be a person from the historic time and place. Have partners work together to decide on the "where" and "when" of time traveler's destination, to establish a historic character, and to do research.

    Once students have the done their research, they should work together to write a ten-minute script for the two characters, using a question-and-answer format. Suggest that students then roleplay their parts for the class.

  3. Have students rehearse their roles before conducting their interviews before the class. Spread the presentations over several days.


Before students roleplay, review with them the techniques of interviewing, such as deciding what is the principal thing they want the audience to know about the event. Make the analogy to a headline in a news story. Remind them also of the five important questions -- Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How -- of a news story.

Limit the interviews to a specific decade, such as the 1950s. Or choose one major event, such as World War II, and have students role-play events in different places.

Present a number of the skits, in chronological order, as part of single production with a unifying theme, such as the struggle for democracy.

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