Finding Your Preservation Story

As the statewide nonprofit organization for preservation, Preservation Iowa knows that the future of preservation depends on nurturing appreciation for our built heritage in the hearts and minds of the next generation. With that in mind, Preservation Iowa created this toolkit Finding Your Preservation Story expressly for K-12 students and their teachers.

Here you will find many useful tools including:

  • Guided lesson plans and reading suggestions
  • 101 activity ideas for preservation education in and outside the classroom
  • Worksheets, glossaries, and guides to aid students’ preservation research
  • Resources for additional research

We’re always interested in hearing about the stories you and your students discover or other positive experiences in your classroom. Please feel free to write to us at or use our contact box on the Preservation Iowa website (

We hope you and your students learn a lot and uncover some great Iowa stories!

Section 1: Preservation Curriculum for Teachers

Find Your Preservation Story – Welcome! We’re delighted you want to bring the stories of Iowa’s historic buildings into your classroom.  To get you started we want to provide you with as many helpful, exciting educational resources as possible. In this packet, you’ll find: Guided lesson plans and literature recommendations for learning Activity ideas for… Read more »

Section 2.1: Learning Objectives

Find Your Preservation Story – Essential Concepts and/or Skills The following Learning Objectives are based on the Iowa Core Curriculum Standards for History and Literacy Education. Understand the relationships between historical patterns, people, and time frames. Understand similarities and differences between architectural styles in relation to varying time periods. Understand historical actions and events that posed… Read more »

Section 2.2: Lesson Plans

Find Your Preservation Story – Lesson Plans Why do Old Buildings Matter (Word docx format) – This lesson is intended to help students understand the role of architecture, preservation, and place in society and culture.  A second objective includes building an understanding of the the role of preservationists, architects, and property owners in preserving old buildings in… Read more »

Section 3: 101 Ideas for Preservation Education

Finding Your Preservation Story – Engaging Ideas Incorporate these ideas into your classroom, home, and daily life to encourage a lifelong love of historic preservation. Visit a local archive or history center by scheduling a class field trip. Ask librarians the best way to get started with research and ask them to share their favorite… Read more »

Section 4.1: Archive Guide

Find your Preservation Story – Researching in an Archive Words to Know Archivist—The researcher or librarian who can assist you in your research Census (both Iowa, which occurred every decade ending in 5, and federal, every decade ending in 0)—The official count of population, including some details about individuals Citation (record the source document and… Read more »

Section 4.2 – Glossary of Architecture Terms

Find your Preservation Story – Glossary Guide to Architectural Interiors and Exteriors Definitions compliments of the State Historical Society of Iowa’s Prairie Voices Curriculum Acanthus: A common plant of the Mediterranean, whose leaves, stylized, form the characteristic decoration of capitals of Corinthian and Composite orders. In scroll form it appears on friezes, panels, etc. Anthemion: A… Read more »

Section 4.3: Glossary of Preservation Terms

Find Your Preservation Story – Glossary of Preservation Terms If you’re new to preservation, the lingo can be quite confusing. Here’s a helpful breakdown of preservation terminology from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Designation—Act of identifying historic structures and districts subject to regulation in historic preservation ordinances or other preservation laws.  Please note that… Read more »

Section 4.4: Research Guide

Find Your Preservation Story – “Tracing the Clues” Workbook Like any detective, to uncover a story you’ve got to search for clues.  A good place to start is with what you can see and know on the surface. Trace your first clues by filling in the blanks below and consult the Glossary or Resources Guides… Read more »

Section 4.5: Letters to Parents and Admins

Find Your Preservation Story – Communicating to Parents and Administrators The following letters may be distributed to parents, principals, and administrators as you plan your Historic Preservation curriculum. Letter to Principals and Admin (Download PDF) Thank you for your interest and support of our historic preservation curriculum. We’re delighted you want your students to learn… Read more »

Section 5.1: Print and Online Resources

Find Your Preservation Story – Researching Preservation Stories Like any archaeologist or newspaper reporter, you’ve got to do some digging to uncover a story. While it’s possible that you might get your hands dirty in the process, you might also start with what’s readily available in special collections, on the internet, or even by oral… Read more »

Section 5.2: People in Preservation

Find Your Preservation Story – Who can I talk to if I need information as I begin my preservation project? For many preservation questions, especially those related to Iowa History Day (National History Day), archaeological sites, listing on the National Register of Historic Places, tax credits for preservation projects, and use of State of Iowa… Read more »

This project was supported in part by the State Historical Society of Iowa, Historical Resource Development Program.