17 Document Based and Constructed Response Questions For Elementary Students (DBQ CRQ)

These questions are designed to give elementary students guided practice in working with primary and secondary source material. They target grades 2 – 6 and address a variety of common social studies topics. DBQ’s and CRQs help prepare students to do the work of historians and social scientists. For more of my posts for using DBQs in the elementary and secondary classroom click here. Hat tip to Kate Gillan, former K-8 Social Studies Director at East Irondequoit CSD and all the district teachers who produced this fine series of DBQ’s and CRQ’s.


Document Based Questions

Gr 2 Local History
Gr 3 Communities
Gr 3 Transportation
Gr 4 Colonial Period
Gr 4 Roles of Women
Gr 5 Civil War
Gr 5 The Iroquois
Gr 5 Government
Gr 5 Immigration
Gr 6 Classical Period
Gr 6 Eastern Religion

Constructed Response Questions

Grade 3 World Communities-1
Grade 3 World Communities-2
Grade 3 Maps
Grade 4 New York State History
Grade 5 Rainforests
Grade 6 Series

Image credit: Peter Pappas

20 Replies to “17 Document Based and Constructed Response Questions For Elementary Students (DBQ CRQ)”

  1. When I teach workshops for the Teaching with Primary Sources program from the Library of Congress, it’s always a challenge to find great primary source integration ideas for lower elementary. I picked up several ideas from your post. Thank you for sharing them!

    1. Thanks Mary,

      I’m working on a DBQ iBook on the US Homefront in WWII. If you have an iPad, and are willing, I can send you the beta version when it’s ready. I’d like some feedback from some DBQ pros like you. Let me know and I’ll add you to my ‘test’ list. It will be a free iBook, targeting 7-8th graders – with loads of multimedia.

    2. I’m looking for a consultant to provide a training on DBQs, you wouldn’t happen to live in Florida? If not, can you make some recommendations, would like someone local. Thank you

  2. I would love to see what you are working on, Peter. I am in South Carolina, and I am currently using the homefront in my classroom and as a springboard for my district. I would love to see what you have to offer!

    1. Hi Albert,
      I’ve been producing a series of iBooks – two of them deal directly with the US Homefront in WWII. You’ll see them in the sidebar on the right side of this blog.
      Enjoy, Peter

  3. I just found your web page and love it! I have been using primary sources to help my 4th graders learn about history. I like how you use several documents to present a concept and not just facts. If you ever need teachers to try out your DBQs, let me know.
    Thank you!

  4. I’ve found these documents to be very helpful in assisting me in developing my own DBQ’s. I was recently introduced to this concept during a vertical planning meeting at my school. Thanks for sharing!

  5. HI Peter –

    I was wondering if you still do any sort of DBQ presentations? I was thinking this might just be the thing for my school. We are implementing a new school wide SS text next year, but I also want a DBQ series for all grade levels. Is this something that you do or would be willing to do?


  6. Thanks for sharing your information. For novices like me, it would be great if you included a sample of how to answer the different type of sources. I do have an idea but it always helps to get something from the experts. I am now working on the picture with the Europeans and the Native Americans meeting to trade. I would have love to see how you interpreted that photo.


  7. Good morning, Peter.
    Just found this site, and I am so excited! After teaching middle school for fourteen years, I am moving to 4th grade Science and Social Studies ~ changing districts/states, etc. During the years I taught 6th – 8th Social Studies, we supplemented the curriculum with DBQ’s. This added so much to student involvement and ownership of the learning.

    What is your suggestion as to introducing DBQ’s to the 4th grade? (I am the only 4th grade SS teacher, small district.) My goal is student engagement and excitement about learning history. For example, I want students to wonder why things happened the way they did, could situations have been handled differently, and if so, how.

    Too much? Overwhelming for 4th graders?

    1. Hi Renee,

      I think 4th are more than ready to get into DBQs. Tasks can be modified. For example see this post How to Teach Summarizing or this one How to Embed Literacy Skills in Historical Thinking

      I think it also makes sense to remind students that every day they and their friends are documenting life and world around them. Use some of this student-generated content to so some close reading. Then take those skills and apply them to historical sources.

      One works flow:
      Teacher introduces the lesson with a few photographs from Instagram, Facebook, or some other social media source. (As alternative use news or advertisements). It is best to select images that have themes that will be easily recognized by students – for example leisure, celebration, patriotism, etc.Teacher directs the students to focus on people, objects, and activities. Teacher guides students in large group discussion of what the photos tell you about the subjects and the people who took the photographs.As students make observations, teacher replies with, “What do you see that makes you say that?” This gives students some experience in going back to source material to cite specific evidence to support assertions.
      Teacher guides a summary discussion on how we use photos to communicate ideas and what we can learn about the motivation of the photographer and their message with a closer look at their images.

  8. Thank you for sharing. These documents are very helpful as we prepare our students to use primary sources. They will also be very helpful in helping me make my own DBQ as well as help my coworkers.

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