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Chronological Reasoning and Causation

Transportation: Then and Now

  1. Load Modes of Transportation, New York Public Library, New York City, 1916 in Main Image Viewer
  2. Load Odessa Jones Murray, 1940 in Main Image Viewer
  3. Load Photo of Airplanes, 1914 in Main Image Viewer
  4. Load Waldo C. Falkener, Sr. and horse in Main Image Viewer
  5. Load Dog Sled Team Barking in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

You can have your students complete this activity on Consider the Source, or on the attached Google Slide deck. 

Google Slide:


Title: Transportation: Then & Now

Overview: Using primary source images of transportation, teachers will guide students through the historical thinking process. Students (with support) will be able to analyze the images and discuss what they notice is the same or different. 

Goal:. Students will be able to compare and contrast transportation in their community through time. 


  • Students will examine continuities and changes over time in their community regarding transportation.

  • Students will examine continuities and changes over time in their community, using evidence such as primary source photographs and images.

Investigative (Compelling) Question: How has transportation changed in the last century? How have these changes affected our daily life? 

Time Required

  • 1-2 40 minute classes (Length will be determined by how many images you would like students to analyze and the use of any extension activity.

 Recommended Grade Range

  • 2nd Grade

Subject: Social Studies


  • 2.6 Identifying continuities and changes over time can help understand historical developments. 

    • 2.6a Continuities and changes over time in communities can be described using historical thinking, vocabulary, and tools such as time lines. 

    • 2.6b Continuities and changes over time in communities can be examined by interpreting evidence such as maps, population charts, photographs, newspapers, biographies, artifacts, and other historical materials.

Credits: Melissa McBride


Materials Used: 

Resources Used: 


Description of Procedure: 

  • Connect: Introduce students to the idea of change over time and any vocabulary they have not already learned. Ask them if they know what “transportation” means (define for all after seeking answers). Ask them what kinds of transportation they use in any given week. (Answers will vary, but should include, car, school bus, bus, bicycle, feet, skateboard, etc.) Slides 1-2

  • Wonder: Ask students to predict how they think transportation is different now than it was many years ago. 

  • Investigate: Tell students that they will be investigating changes in transportation by studying photos from the past and from today. Introduce Slide 3 and ask students to observe and reflect on the image. Use the LOC Teacher’s Guide for Analyzing Photos and Prints to guide questioning. Some examples of what students might notice are: the various modes of transportation, what the people look like, who is in the photo (versus who is missing - not many women, people of color, everyone appears to be well dressed, etc.) Based on each individual class the questions might change. 

    • After looking at Slide 3 together, hand out the student activity sheet. As a whole class, analyze the images of the cars. Discuss the following questions:

      • Describe what you see. 

      • What did you notice first? 

      • What people and objects are shown? What/Who is missing from the image?

      • What details can you see? 

      • What can you learn from comparing these pictures?

    • After discussion, have the students analyze the airplane photos on their own, this can be done in pairs or small groups. 

*Note: Additional images are included at the end of the Google Slides presentation. The modes of transport can be changed as well as the pictures. Students can bring in their own images or magazines can be used for pictures as well. 

  • Construct: Watch the video on changes in transportation. Slide 8. What has changed between now and then? Possible answers - easier to get around, faster, more options for travel. 

  • Express: Ask students: What else do they think has changed over time in their community? How will transportation change in the future? 

  • Reflect: Ask the students what would be the same or different in photos today? What did they learn by studying these images? What do they wonder about the photos? 


  • There are a number of possible extensions including using this template to study other changes over time in the local community: schools, libraries, etc. 

  • Students can design their own method of transportation 50 or 100 years in the future. How do they think people will travel in the future?

  • You could use NewsELA or other sites to read articles about the changes from gas-powered cars to electric cars.


 Evaluation: Evaluation will be based on the responses to the photo analysis activity sheet as well as the discussions in class. Evaluation can also be based on extension activities. If students are able to identify similarities and differences in the images they will have been successful in this assignment.