Library Digital Content Access

Food Time Line

Created By: Kay Grabow, Thomas Paine Elementary School (Urbana, IL)
Grade Level: 4th
Content Area: Social Studies
Database Integration: Students will access the TDC database to find examples of diaries and other source material which give information abou the nature and preparation of foods eaten by each of these groups of Illinoisans: Archaic Indians, Illini Indians, French settlers, pioneer settlers, immigrants of 1880-1910.

Illinois Learning Standards Achieved

Standard Achieved

Activity that Meets this Standard

16.A.2c: Ask questions and seek answers by collecting and analyzing data from historic documents, images and other literary and nonliterary sources from historical sources.

16.C.1a(W): Identify how people and groups in the past made economic choices (e.g. crops to plant, products to make, products to trade) to survive and improve their lives.

16.D.1(W): Identify how customs and traditions from around the world influence the local community.

16.E.2a(W): Describe how people in hunting and gathering and early pastoral societies adapted to their respective environments.

Each day for one week a different group of students will prepare a food item similar to that consumed by one of the listed groups of Illinoisans. As much as possible the students will use a method of preparation which approximates that of the historic group.



  1. Using their history textbook, students will make a historical timeline of the state of Illinois which includes the Archaic Indians, the Illini Indians, the French settlers, the pioneer settlers, and the immigrants of 1880-1910.
  2. Students will be divided into five groups. In the computer lab or the classroom, each group will research the food consumption of their assigned historical group, using the TDC database and other Internet sources.
  3. Students will make a list of foods consumed by their historical group, discuss present availability of the foods (making calls to grocery stores or other food sources as necessary), and determine the feasibility of obtaining and preparing the foods.
  4. Each group will decide on a food item, and on a class field trip, each group will purchase or gather the food item.
  5. On an assigned day of the week, in chronological order, the groups will prepare and serve their food item to their classmates.
  6. Class members will discuss reasons why a certain food was consumed by each historical group, how the environment and culture affected the choice, and why a particular means of preparation was used.


Students will be assessed on a teacher created rubric which will be discussed with them before the project begins. Students will be required to demonstrate at least some aspect of the preparation of the food and to share information with their classmates about why this was a food of choice of the particular group of Illinoisans studied.