Today’s tip focuses on helping kids to organize basic information about a specific topic, country or period of history. An acronym called PERSIA, this simple graphic organizer breaks down general knowledge into six broad human concerns and over-arching questions:

  • Political: Who is in charge?
  • Economic: How do we make a living?
  • Religion: What do we believe?
  • Social: How do we relate to one another?
  • Intellectual / Arts: How do we learn? How do we express ourselves?
  • Area / Geography: How does where we live impact how we live?

When students are asked to study a time period in history, they sometimes have difficulty organizing all the seemingly unconnected facts about different people, dates, events, and issues related to that time period. The PERSIA approach is one way to organize how the people lived in a society at a certain time in history and so help students to understand that culture.

By considering in turn different dimensions of a historical period or event, students probe deeply into the many facets and implications of the past. Because of the depth of resources available online and in print, students can easily find evidence to support their investigations into all six of these areas. Shmoop, Wikipedia and the World History Resources page at Social Studies Central are a few of the online tools that may be helpful.

(Download a pdf version here.)

You can also help students break each broad category down by providing the following specifics:

Political

  • Structure
  • War
  • Treaties
  • Courts/Laws
  • Leaders
  • Popular participation
  • Loyalty to leader

Economic

  • State control on trade/industry
  • Agriculture/Industry importance
  • Labor systems
  • Levels of Technology
  • Levels of International Trade
  • Gender and Slaves
  • Money System

Religion

  • Importance on societal interaction
  • Holy Books
  • Beliefs/Teachings
  • Conversion – role of missionaries
  • Sin/Salvation
  • Deities

Social

  • Family order – patriarchal, matriarchal
  • Gender Relations – role of women, children
  • Social Classes – slavery
  • Entertainment
  • Life Styles

Intellectual/Arts

  • Art and Music
  • Writing/Literature
  • Philosophy
  • Math/Science
  • Education
  • Inventions

Area/Geography

  • Location
  • Physical
  • Movement
  • Human/Environment

Need something simpler for younger kids?

Go with just the PEGS – Political, Economic, Geographic, Social – and back off a bit on your expectations for specific information.

Have fun!