The 7 Wonders

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Mount Prospect

Essays on
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The Central School 


Mount Prospect: La Historia De Tu Comunidad



Teacher or Parent Led Projects for Students

The projects below are meant to be used in class rooms or as family projects. Some of them are simple projects that can be done in a few of hours or a couple class periods, while others take a number of days.


Farming Project


Mount Prospect Song Project


Model Building Project


Picture Time Line Project


Mount Prospect Developer Project


1900 Grocery shopping Project








Farming Project                              Top


Description: Most settlers came to Illinois to farm. Both New England and Germany had poor farming land. The soil in  Illinois was a large part of the attraction to the area. The soil was rich in part because of the glaciers, which had soil plant life from the north and deposited it here. The prairies also made the soil fertile. This activity will show the students how different types of land effect crops grown in them, by having three different pots with different types of soil.


Objective:   To teach students about the different properties of soils and give them a glimpse of some of the concerns faced by farmers.


Supplies:      Three pots

Good potting soil, Rocky or gravely soil, and  Soil with high clay content Onion seeds or onions that have sprouted roots.


Stage One: In this exercise, you will observe the effects of different soils. Take three pots, and fill each with different type of soil. The first should be good potting soil, representative of soil on the prairies. The second should be regular dirt mixed with some gravel and small rocks. Collecting some small rocks and digging up dirt from somewhere that has not been covered with potting soil or treated with fertilizer can make this. This represents soil in New England. The third pot should be filled with hard clay like dirt. This is a little harder to find, but a garden supply store may have some or be able to advise you. Pour water into each of the three pots. Observe with your students what the water does. In the first pot the water should soak into the soil and disperse evenly. In the second pot the water should drain through the soil and much of it should come out of the bottom of the pot. In the final pot, the water should sit on top of the dirt and very slowly seep into the clay. You can describe for your students how run off water in the second pot is bad since the plants will not be able to absorb much and how the soil in the third pot is too hard and would not let the water into to the pants roots. You can ask your students: "What soil do you think gives the roots of the plant more water?  What soil would you like to live on?"

Stage Two:

In the second stage of this exercise, you will experiment growing a crop. Many of the farms in Mount Prospect raised onions, so this is an obvious choice for a crop. You can either go to a garden supply store and buy onion seeds to plant or take onions from the super market and plant them. If you decide to plant onions from the super market, you should leave them in a glass of water, with the root stump down, until they have sprouted roots. Either plant the seeds or the onions with roots in the three different types of soil and leave them in front of a window, watering them regularly. Water all three pots at the same time and the same amount of water. Depending on how warm and/or dry your room is, the plants probably need to be watered about every five days. You should be able to observe that the plant in the potting soil is growing faster and larger than the other two. If you would rather not work with onions, this can be done with apple seeds or seeds for small flowers as well.
































Mount Prospect Song Project         Top


Description:      Folk songs and works songs have been a part of American History from the founding of the colonies. These songs often tell stories and record history in one of the only American oral traditions. You can introduce your class to this long tradition through creating your own folk song about the history of Mount Prospect. Have the class or small groups of students write a song(s) about the growth of Mount Prospect. Focusing on the major themes in the development of the Village.


Objective:   An enjoyable way for the students to process what they have just learned about the history of the Village and a chance to explore a long-standing American tradition. This is also a chance to teach local history using a creative thought process that might be more approachable or enjoyable for some students.


Supplies:      You need the music for a popularly known song or a very simple song. If you can play an instrument, it might be nice to bring one to accompany the students, although it is not necessary. It might be nice to have a tape recorder or a camcorder so the musical presentation can be shared with interested parents or other classes.


Stage One:  Traditional work songs or folk songs often have a series of changing stanzas which tell the stages of a story and then end in a repeating chorus. You can pick out a simple song that your students would probably know and use that for the tune to sing to, such as “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” The students can then come up with a theme for their song. You can suggest any of the major themes in the development of Mount Prospect, such as farming, the railroad coming into town, German settlers, immigration, etc. Once your students have a theme, they need to come up with a chorus, generally a rhyming couplet. Next you have to decide how fast the song will be. If you only have two lines before each chorus, the song will move very quickly. If you have longer sections before each chorus the song will move at an easier pace. Then you need to decide how long the song will be. Three or four stanzas will probably tell the story of one event but you might consider going for a little while longer if your students enjoy the project. You will want to have a rhyme scheme; couplets, the first and the third lines or the second and the fourth line of each stanza are common. Once you have set up the format your students can fill in the song with their ideas.


Some basic formats:


Format 1                                    Format 2                                       Format 3


Line 1                                        Line 1                                            Line 1

Line 2                                        Line 2                                            Line 2

Line 3                                        Line 3                                            Chorus

Chorus                                      Line 4                                            Line 3

Line 4                                       Chorus                                           Line 4

Line 5                                        Line 5                                            Chorus

Line 6                                        Line 6                                            Line 5

Chorus                                      Line 7                                             Line 6

Line 7                                        Line 8                                            Chorus

Line 8                                       Chorus                                            Line 7

Line 9                                       Lines 1 and 3 Rhyme                       Line 8

Chorus                                      Lines 2 and 4 Rhyme                      Chorus

Lines 1 and 3 Rhyme                 Lines 5 and 7 Rhyme

Lines 4 and 6 Rhyme                 Lines 6 and 8 Rhyme

Lines 7 and 9 Rhyme


































Description: Students will construct cardboard models of buildings in Mt. Prospect. You can pick all buildings from one time period or simply use the buildings your students find interesting.


Objective:   This will allow your students to have a fun, hands on experience that will teach them the history of some of the buildings in Mount Prospect. It will also show them a little bit about the development of the town and when it started to look the way it does today.


Supplies:      About a week before you begin the construction project, ask the children in your classroom to begin bringing in empty boxes of all sizes (cereal, cracker, oatmeal, snack roll ups, etc.)  You’ll need to furnish masking tape, scotch tape, paint brushes, paint and pictures of buildings in Mount Prospect.


Stage One: Pictures of a variety of locations in Mt. Prospect will be needed. Many photographs can be found in the book The Story of a Community and also in the book Where Town and Country Met. Snapshots can easily be taken of most locations. This provides current and color images for the children to work from. The Mt. Prospect Historical Society can also provide photocopies of photographs of many buildings.

Decide if you want the children to work alone, in pairs, or in groups. Assign each student or group a building to work on. You can either pick the buildings that you find important or let the children choose their favorites. When all the buildings have been assigned, tell each student or group a little bit about their building. When was it built? Why was it built? If the buildings are taken out of the Where Town and Country Met or Story of a Community, this information should be in the books. If you are doing other buildings call the Historical Society and ask for additional information.

Hand out the photographs and/or pictures of the buildings to be constructed. Let the students select boxes from the ones collected that would be appropriate for constructing their building. It may be helpful to have some boxes broken down so that they are flat. These pieces can be used for roofs and smaller parts of the buildings. Have the tape and other materials available for the students. Allow ample time for this project to be completed. It can take several weeks, depending on how much time is devoted each day. Ensure that the buildings have been constructed properly before the children paint or add finishing details.


Stage Two: When all of the buildings are finished display them. A paper layout can be used to put in roads and provide a guide for setting the buildings in their proper locations.  A fairly large area is needed for this, however, which makes it difficult to do. The Mt. Prospect Historical Society’s Education Center might be available to provide space for such a display. Call the Society with a good amount of time to schedule this. A display case can also be used. Have a time set aside that other classes and/or parents can come into your classroom to see the mini Mt. Prospect that has been built. Buildings can be displayed alone or with their photographs and histories.
































Picture Time Line Project                Top


Description: Have students put together a visual time line with drawings of the various stages of Mt. Prospect’s development. The students could Draw Mt. Prospect prior to European (or American) settlement; after the railroads; as the town developed prior to W.W.II; Post W.W.II; and Today.  This activity could also be used to teach about maps and map scales.


Objective:   Teach the students the chronology of development and help them to synthesize and visualize what they have read. 


Supplies: Markers, paint, paint brushes, tape, sheets of paper that can be taped together, and an area where the finished time line can be hung.


Stage One: Divide your class into ten small groups. Assign each groups a topic, there should be two groups for each section. Some topics that might be used are:


Topics One -Glaciers -Prairie -Early Native American Settlement

Topics Two -Potawatomi villages -Early traders -Early settlers -Yankees      coming west -Erie Canal

Topics Three -Sailing from Germany -Migrating West -Building Community -Train Stop -First Streets

Topics Four -Growth of the Village -Village Hall -Building Schools -W.W.I and W.W.II -New Houses

Topics Five -Shopping Mall -Major highways -New People living in MP -Larger Community


Once each group has chosen a topic, have them draw a picture of their topic. They can look in the book for ideas and you might suggest some yourself.


Stage Two: When the students are done with their pictures, you can string them together with tape so that they go in chronological order. You can then hang the time line up in the class room or in the hallway of the school.
































M P Developer Project                    Top

Time frame: Up to the teacher

Subjects: Local history, Social Science

Overview: In groups of 3-5 students will design their own sub-development for Mount Prospect. To accomplish this students will be given a map of Mount Prospect to locate their sub-development on. Once students have located their sub-development they must then decide on the details for their sub-development. Students will name their sub-development, decide on its size, what type of housing to build (houses, apartments, etc.), and whether to include such things as commercial projects or golf courses, etc. Once the details are decided students will be required to present a proposal for annexation mentioning the benefits their sub-development would give to the town of Mount Prospect.

Objectives: Illinois Standard 16.B.1a
Identify key individuals in the development of local communities
Students will be able to identify key figures in the development of Mount Prospect and through this activity they will be able to experience first hand the hardships faced by those key individuals as they tried to make Mount Prospect grow.

Materials: Mount Prospect Development PowerPoint, maps of Mount Prospect

Step 1-Go through the Mount Prospect Development PowerPoint with class, focusing on key individuals in the growth of the town, what those individuals did, and problems they faced with developing their land and from Mount Prospect citizens and government. Teacher should also spend time on defining what a sub-development is, how big they were (usually no more then 10 blocks), and what variables went into construction (sidewalks, parks, street lights, commercial areas.)

Step 2-Divide class into groups of 3-5 students per group.

Step 3-Assign each group a different time period for their development, given the problems faced by each developer for that time period.

1890’s-Town not incorporated, few services provided by the town, how to attract buyers?

1920’s-Period of dramatic growth, how to attract buyers to your development?, still few services provided by the town, coming of the Great Depression

1930’s-Slow period of growth to due Great Depression, little in means of transportation to surrounding areas, most streets still unpaved

1950’s-How to attract buyers in a period of dramatic growth?, do you build single density (houses), or mixed density (houses and apartments)?, how should you convince the town to provide services to your development?

1960’s-Town government and citizens against annexing any developments with apartments or townhouses, many areas still out of area covered by town services

1980’s-Town against annexing any more residential developments, how do you convince the town to annex your development?

Step 4-Students decide on what to include in their sub-development
Step 1-Decide on location for development
Step 2-Decide on size of development
Step 3-Decide whether the development will be single family housing or apartments
Step 4- Decide whether to include such things as sidewalks, street lights, and sewers (houses in development will be cheaper without, but it will be harder to attract buyers.) Will the development also include commercial developments, parks or other recreational activities for residents?


Chris Radek, Educational Development Intern

Mount Prospect Historical Society
July 2002






























1900’s Grocery Shopping Project Top
Time frame: 1 hour+
Subjects: History, Social Science, and Math
: Students will be faced with the same decisions inhabitants of Mount Prospect in the early 1900’s. Students will be required to make these decisions in order to purchase the needed supplies while staying within their family budget.
: Illinois Standard 15.B Understand that scarcity necessitates choices by consumers
Illinois Standard 15.B.1 Explain why consumers must make choices Illinois Standard 15.B.2 Identify factors that affect how consumers make choices Illinois Standard 15.B.2c Explain that when a choice is made, something else is given up

Working in teams           
Materials:  If a more interactive activity is desired provide students with “money” for use
during the activity for them to use to purchases goods. In the classroom create an area to become the general store and a farmers market complete with materials to represent various goods to be purchased. Enclosed grocery list and after activity question worksheet
Activity:  Each student (or groups of 3-5) is given $7 dollars for their shopping trip, which was the average amount of money spent per week on groceries for a family of 5.
If desired students may also be given a list of needed supplies
Students are then given what decisions they have to make for their grocery shopping trip.
Step 1: What season is it?
Living off of items preserved from Spring and Summer
Need mostly dry goods
Nearing the end of preserved food
Need more fresh foods
Dry goods
Buying food to prepare it for preservation
Can travel more easily to farmers markets
Can purchase more food to use quickly
Dry goods
Farmers Markets winding down
Need to Prepare for preserves for winter
Dry goods
Step 2
: Decide what groceries you need
General Store Advantages:
Close to home
Has Dry Goods
Items bought are not perishable
Open all year
Has Dry Goods Only
Farmers Market Advantages:
Farm fresh produce, meat, and dairy
Travel (Des Plaines 4 miles, Arlington Heights 3 miles)
Only Perishable Items
Can only buy limited amount unless you can preserve excess
Summer Months Only
Step 3
: Decide on a method of Travel
Walking Advantages:
No time spent saddling and harnessing horses or preparing car
Walking Disadvantages:
Speed-2 miles per hour
Can only buy what you can carry home (20-30 pounds)
Wagon/Horses Advantages:
Speed 5-10 miles per hour
Can carry more groceries
Speed 5-10 miles per hour
Time spent preparing horses and wagon
Open to the elements
Costs .50 cents out of your $7 dollars for horse feed
Car Advantages:
Speed 10-20 miles per hour (depending on road conditions)
Can carry more groceries
Speed 10-20 miles per hour
Conditions of roads
Lack of roads
Open to the elements
Costs $1 dollar out of your $7 dollars for gasoline
Step 4: Spend accordingly
Average Family Income in 1906:
Around $800 dollars for a family of 5
Average spent on groceries:
Family of 5 needed at least $600 dollars a year for housing and groceries
$7-$8 dollars spent per week, with more being spent in spring and summer
Prices of General Store Goods
Dry Beans(quart) .09 cents, 1lb of bread .05 cents, Molasses(gallon) .60 cents, Flour .02 cents, Coffee .14 cents, Rice .06 cents, Sugar .06 cents, Lard .10 cents
Prices of Farmers Market Goods
Eggs .18 cents per dozen, Rib roast .13 cents(lb), Chuck steak .08 cents(lb), Sirloin .14 cents(lb), Corned Beef .06 cents(lb), Butter .22 cents(lb), Cheese .17 cents(lb), Mutton .08 cents(lb), Pork chops .10 cents(lb)
These steps can be done either with the class as a whole or by each student individually.
If done individually have students write down the decisions they made and why they made them.
If done as a class each decision can be discussed with class as a whole.


Chris Radek, Educational Development Intern

Mount Prospect Historical Society
July 2002