Intergenerational Interviews

Intergenerational Interviews lesson plan

What do family members or neighbors remember about the "olden days" or their home countries? Find out in an oral history interview!

  • 1.

    The most exciting way to learn about recent history is to ask a person who was there to share their memories! Here are some suggestions on how to work with your teacher to plan an interview.

  • 2.

    <STRONG> Prepare your questions.</STRONG> Choose a person to interview who remembers or is an expert in the time period, culture, or topic you’re studying. With Crayola® Erasable Colored Pencils, write questions that are likely to encourage the person to tell stories rather than just answer with a word or two. Change your mind? Just erase!

  • 3.

    <STRONG>Interview and sketch!</STRONG> Contact the person. Arrange to meet in a quiet, convenient place. Let them know how long the interview will last. If you would like to tape it, ask for permission. When you get together, record the answers to your questions. You may think of new questions to ask, too. Take notes about any photos or objects that you borrow such as maps or photographs. Sketch a portrait of your interviewee.

  • 4.

    <STRONG>Prepare your presentation.</STRONG> Cut construction paper with Crayola Scissors to cover a recycled box or plastic container. Illustrate it with the portrait you drew and symbols of the person’s experiences such as a family tree, map, or timeline. On dark paper, use Crayola Metallic Colored Pencils. Attach the paper to the container with a Crayola Glue Stick.

  • 5.

    Create representative documents such as tickets or passports, letters home, marriage certificates, or family trees. Place these documents plus any 3-D artifacts (maybe a favorite piece of costume jewelry or book) inside the container for safekeeping. Care


  • Students learn about oral history methods, the oldest method for gathering information.
  • Students develop a research plan and formulate open-ended questions designed to elicit detailed responses.
  • Students conduct interviews and record their findings.
  • Students design presentations of their findings in an interesting and multidimensional manner.


  • Sometimes it is a good policy to let the interviewee know the questions that will be asked beforehand. It might inspire them to gather up photos or artifacts related to the questions.
  • Role-play interviews to practice waiting for responses and being sensitive to interviewees.
  • Collect information from various decades or historic events. For example, interviews for Remembrance Day or Veterans Day might focus on people who remember World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf and Iraq Wars.
  • Assessment: Track each student’s progress, analyze the amount and depth of information gathered, and assess how well the display reflected the interviewee’s experiences.