Lesson Plan: Cover Stories

Untitled (Grades 3-5)

1. Display or distribute copies of Untitled, The New Yorker cover by R.O. Blechman.

2. Ask students to look at the cover. If viewing on a computer or tablet, use the zoom function to focus on specific sections.

3. Lead a guided inquiry by asking the following questions. Record their observations on a smartboard or chart paper by category.

-  Where does this take place? What makes you say that?
-  What are all the different objects you see in this picture?
-  What stands out to you about the buildings? What else do you notice?
-  When was this cover made? What makes you say that?

4. Tell students this cover is connected to two different and very important moments in the history of a special part of New York City called lower Manhattan.

5. Recap the recorded responses from students, incorporating the background information below as you review their responses.

During the 1600s, the tip of Manhattan was home to the colony of New Amsterdam, settled by the Dutch. This settlement had several important buildings in it, including a fort that protected the harbor, and a windmill for grinding grain. New Amsterdam was visited by ships filled with goods from all over the world. Over many decades, as New Amsterdam became New York, ships were increasingly replaced by planes, trains and cars, and this part of Manhattan fell into disrepair. However, in 1973, construction was completed on the Twin Towers, which were the centerpiece of the new World Trade Center. These new buildings attracted businesses and people to return to this part of New York City.

6. As summative questions, ask students:

-  How is the artist is showing the connection between the past and the present in the drawing?
-  This drawing has no title. What title would you give this picture? Why?

Image courtesy of the artist

Additional resources on the history of the World Trade Center:
Lesson Plan: Important Buildings
Lesson Plan: From the Ground Up
Lesson Plan:Tourism at the Top of the World Trade Center
Teach & Learn: World Trade Center History