Library Digital Content Access

Urban Treasure Hunt

Created By: Kay Grabow, Thomas Paine Elementary School (Urbana, IL)
Grade Level: 4th
Content Area: Social Studies
Database Integration: For this project, groups of 4-5 students will be given one classroom period in the computer lab to search the TDC database for old pictures of buildings-- businesses or houses-- in Champaign and Urbana and choose one which interests them. In the classroom, they will insert their picture into a PowerPoint presentation, along with a digital picture which they will take of the same location now.

Illinois Learning Standards Achieved

Standard Achieved

Activity that Meets this Standard

State Goal 16: Understand events, trends, individuals and movements shaping the history of Illinois the United States and other nations Each group of 4-5 students will insert a photo from the TDC database taken in the past of a business or house in Champaign or Urbana into a Microsoft Word document-and print out the photo along with clues as to the location, but not the exact address . The groups will give the clues and photos to their classmates to use as an Urban Treasure Hunt. Classmates will use the clues to try to find the locations (after school, with families). After a given time limit, students will return their clues with their guesses as to the location and present use of the building.

In the meantime, each group will travel to their chosen location and take a picture of the business or house as it looks now. Students will cooperatively create a PowerPoint presentation in which a comparison will be made of the appearance and use the chosen buildings in Champaign and Urbana in the past and in the present. The PowerPoint presentation will reveal the correct answers to the Urban Treasure Hunt. At the same time, each group will be expected to give narration about the history of the buildings, their estimation of the date of the older picture based on details such as clothing and transportation, and their thoughts about why the use has stayed the same or changed.


Digital camera, computer lab, Microsoft Word and PowerPoint


  1. Students learn how to search the TDC database.
  2. In the computer lab, groups of 4-5 students look for photos of Champaign and Urbana businesses or homes on the database and choose one which interests them.
  3. Groups copy or scan photos and insert them into text giving clues as to the location of the building or house, but not the exact address. Group members print and photocopy clues for rest of classmates.
  4. Individual students try to locate as many of the sites as they can using clues provided from the groups.
  5. Each group goes to the location they have chosen and photographs it with digital camera.
  6. Each group creates a section of a PowerPoint presentation by inserting past and present photos and a comparison page. The presentation will include:
    • Opening slide
    • Location 1--past, illustrated with slide from database
    • Location 1--present, illustrated with slide from digital photo
    • Comparison of time in history, use of location, and ideas about why the use has stayed the same or changed (Same for each of the 5-6 groups)
    • Closing slide


Students will be assessed on the entire project by a teacher-created rubric that is presented to the students and discussed at the start of the project.