Date of Award

Fall 9-14-2013

Document Type


First Advisor

Thangi Appanah

Second Advisor

Shirley Shultz Myers


According to researchers such as Bell (1984) and Fisher (1991), few activities are more powerful for developing historical empathy than engaging students in role-play. This thematic unit plan for fourth and fifth grade children integrates the learning objectives and skills required by the Common Core standards. It consists of a two-act play, The Golden Door, and sample lesson plans that include assessments. Beginning with the Statue of Liberty, the original theatrical work will introduce numerous historical figures as well as interesting historical tidbits, and familiarize students with famous women (as opposed to men), while also allowing teachers an opportunity to address topics such as bullying, stereotypes, gender roles, and multiculturalism. It also lends itself nicely to connections among different subject areas. Examples include introducing a famous woman whose actions are related to the chapter; writing reports on famous American women; using mathematical statistics from the Statue of Liberty to create math problems; introducing Science chapters on erosion/weathering and linking them to the renovation of the Statue of Liberty; exploring the stories of immigrants who arrived at Ellis Island; and researching the stories of the many historical figures introduced during the play. With minimal effort, teachers can link each of their required subjects to the central theme of "Famous Women in American History" and even devote time to subthemes such as "Famous Black Women in American History" or "Famous Women from Virginia in American History."



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.