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American history can really rattle your bones, especially when you read the details of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. Spells, possession, witchcraft, lies…tragedy. Somehow though, it never ceases to be disturbingly fascinating to me.
Now that my girls are in the 5th grade, their Oak Meadow curriculum suggested that they are old enough to address this period of early American history. I was so excited to be able to dive into the puritan world of witchcraft and mystery. However, Oak Meadow’s info on the subject came up short for me- breezing quickly over the details and covering only enough for an afternoon sitting. This is one of the bonuses of home schooling- when in doubt, search it out.
I took it upon myself to make up for what their curriculum was lacking, and developed a lapbook lesson using books from the library, the internet, and my own creativity.
The Salem Witch Trials of course can be discussed in many ways. The approach I took was giving as much background and details about the people involved, the town, and the many possible reasons for the accusations. I withheld disturbing images of people being hanged– the subject matter alone was enough to spook two 10 year olds. I didn’t see the need to drive endless amounts of murder into their fragile little minds.
Since it’s October, there are so many things you can tie into the Salem Witch Trials with Halloween themed activities. Going the extra mile and making witches brew (with root beer, click here to get the recipe!) or baking soul cakes is a great way to link two parts of history, while keeping the fun. I always enjoy throwing in a little historical lesson during the Halloween season, and while the Witch Trials did not originate during this time of year, they certainly were coming to and end in October of 1692.
My favorite part about discussing the Salem Trails with my kids was hearing what my kids theories were about the reasons behind the accusations. It was like a spooky mystery that we’ll never really know the answer to, but speculation is strangely satisfying. Both my girls agreed that maybe it was ergot fungus poisoning, a theory believed to possibly be the root cause.
Not only is the Salem Witch Trials a good lesson for the season, but it’s also a jumping off point to study more about law and the court system. You could certainly skip the Halloween activities and dive straight into the judicial system and talk about justice and order. The Witch Trials is a valuable lesson in what can be considered “evidence” and was the turning point in history regarding such.
Below are templates that I created for our Salem Witch Trials lapbook lesson. Click on the images below: I’m unable to disable the pin it button for these images, but if you don’t click directly on the “pin it” logo, they will open in a new window and you can right click and save. I hope you enjoy them!
The Salem Witch Trials FREE Lapbook Templates!
For a list of books that are great to go along with this lesson, check these out from your local library:
- The Salem Witch Trials: An Unsolved Mystery from History
- The Salem Witch Trials, By Tracy Boraas
- The Salem Witch Trials By Peter Benoit
This was definitely one of my favorite lapbooks!
What has been your favorite lapbook lesson? Share in the comments below!
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