Teaching history with a tissue box assists in reinforcement of knowledge, facts, and ideas in any history subject area or concept. Using a readily available cubed tissue box provides endless possibilities for teaching and learning history. Students use critical thinking skills as they learn to research, ask questions, and develop a better understanding of historical events.
The advantage of using cubed tissue boxes in math is twofold. First, tissues are a necessary item in classrooms and using empty tissue boxes supports recycling. Second, the shape allows for stacking boxes to make connections within a time period or with other time periods in history.
How to Use Boxes for Mathematics
Since tissue boxes are a cube, their six sided shape provides a uniform size and shape for displaying information. Students prepare their work using construction paper, word processing programs, maps, art/paint programs, or other materials for attachment to the history box. Students glue their completed materials to the appropriate side of the tissue box.
It is important to allow students to be creative, while being historically correct.
The following are recommended uses for each side of the six sides of a tissue box. Students select which side of the tissue box is the top.
- Top: The historical event which the box is focused.
- Bottom: Student name and resources used in research of the historical event.
- Side 1: A brief description, including facts about the historical event.
- Side 2: A visual arts representation of the historical event; such as a diagram, pictures, collage, etc.
- Side 3: Pictures of how the historical event is viewed today.
- Side 4: How the historical event is connected to with other subjects; such as other math areas, science, history, etc.
Teaching science with a box and teaching math with a box provides examples how this strategy is used in science and math, along with how to make connections with other subjects.
Sample Use of a History Box
U.S. Civil War 1861- 1865 (MS/HS)
Students are assigned or allowed to select a specific battle or military event that occurred during the civil war. An example:
- Top: Battle of Antietam
- Bottom: Student name, textbook, Encyclopedia Britannica, and the website Antietam National Battlefield – National Park Service (also the URL).
- Side 1: The bloodiest one day battle in U.S. Military history. Over 23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded, or missing after twelve hours of savage combat on September 17, 1862. Gen. Robert E. Lee had moved his troops into Maryland with an eye on capturing Washington, D.C. His army was stopped by Union troops under Gen. George B. McClellan. The next day, September 18, the opposing armies gathered their wounded and buried their dead. That night Lee’s army withdrew back across the Potomac to Virginia, ending Lee’s first invasion of the North. Following the battle, Abraham Lincoln issued his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.
- Side 2: Student provides a simple map of the positions of the Union and Confederate forces at the beginning of the battle around Antietam Creek.
- Side 3: Student provides copies of properly cited pictures of the Antietam battlefield today.
- Side 4: The terrain (Geology) of the battle field accounted for many of the high casualty areas, such as bloody lane. The temperature (Science) was in the middle 70s during the battle and humid.
Completed civil war battle boxes are arranged in the classroom according to historical timeline order.
Other Sample Uses of History Boxes
Formation of the United States 1776-1789 (Upper E/MS/HS)
- Students are assigned or allowed to select a historical event that occurred during this time period. In middle and high school, there are enough historical events during this time period that there are no repeat historical events. All history boxes are displayed in the classroom in accordance with the date of the event during this time period.
Rise of Industrialization 1865-1890 (Upper E/MS/HS)
- Students are assigned or allowed to select a historical event that occurred during this time period. In middle and high school, just like the Formation of the United States, there are enough events in this period to eliminate duplicate events and final products are displayed in the same manner.
Through the completion of these history boxes, students develop a better understanding of the relationship between historical events. It is important for students to internalize how these historical events impacted with other events or were dependent on other events. The cause and effect of historical events are more visual and concrete through this hands-on learning project.