That History Day Guy

September 26, 2008

Defining “Legacy”

Filed under: theme — historydayguy @ 8:54 pm

 The question has arisen recently about what the term “Legacy” means in the latest theme: The Individual in History: Actions and Legacies.

There are many of us with near honorific memories of trying to define the word “conflict” for our student’s parents and teachers. When this topic came around I hadn’t remembered what consternation it had caused and we wrestled with the physical, human, moral, military and commercial compromises that happen in history and worked hard to help students understand these ideas.

So I have a short classroom activity that may help with the idea of “legacy”

Step I:

 Break your kids into small groups. Tell them that they have all received some sad news that Your favorite rich Uncle Bernie has passed away. But they are also informed that this relative has left a considerable amount of moiney behind, but there are some strings attatched: the money can’t just go anywhere it must be given away to charity, and you must decide which charitiy it goes to!

The Choices for the inheritance which is 2.25 million dollars are the following:


Charity One: Dogs without well to do wners: This organization seeks to pair dogs of exceptional breeding, or pure bred dogs, with wealthy families. They usually find pure bred dogs who are being given up for adoption, have been abused, or just living in a person’s home who makes less than $25,000 a year and places them in the home of CEOs, starlets, heiresses, royals, and other individuakls deemed to be appropriate home environments for dogs thought to be “only fit to live in homes where they can live in the life style they were born to inherit.”

The organization owns a series of shelters or “spas” as they call them and a small fleet of planes to transport dogs around the country. The Foundation also gives money to the Beverly Hills College of Veterinary Medicine to support the continued goal of keeping animals healthy and beautiful for all the years of their life.

 Charity Two:

Help for the children: This is an organization that seeks to reach out directly to families in emergency situations to provide for immediate help when they need it. Weather it be families in disasters who have lost everything and need schools for clothes, food, and medicine, or families who lack shelter or housing, the foundation also supports a number of temporary residences for families around the country.

The money would be used to open a new shelter where they would be able to support a large city that has a large population who regularly is experiencing issues of reliable housing.


And Three:

Tomorrows Leaders:

Tomorrows leaders are a nonprofit group that follows at risk students from grades k all the way through graduation of undergraduate college. The students are assigned mentors, spend two weeks each year in leadership camps in the summer, and provide parent workshops. The parent workshops are directed at health, child rearing, budgeting and helping your child transition to college. If students remain successfully in the program for the first twelve years, T.L. will assist students with acquiring scholarships or provide them for their transition to college.


Your Uncle Bernie trusts you. He thinks you’re his smartest living heir. His instructions are: Choose the charity that will have the most important and longest impact out of the three organizations.


Step II

Have groups review the organizations. Ask them to create a three column chart. Place the organization’s name at the top.

Have the groups listed the most important impacts and the farthest reaching impacts, these organizations will provide.


Step III

Have the students report out their responses. List the benefits of giving the money to each group on the board.

 Engage the group and see if you can come to a class consensus on what group will meet Uncle Bernie’s requirements.


Step IV


Share with the students that these long term impacts will represent the “Legacy” of your Uncle Bernie’s Will. They are the good deeds and contributions made after he has gone.



Step V

Choose a number of individuals from history. Examples: Abraham Lincoln, Lucretia Mott, Jane Adams, Booker T. Washington, George McCarthy.  

Remind the students that all of these people’s lives and actions resulted in later legacies.

Ask students to choose three and complete the same exercise individually for homework. As a follow up, discuss these historical legacies to further illustrate the point.



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