Museum Classroom: William Hamilton Merritt Biography (Intermediate)

Lesson: William Hamilton Merritt Biography
Topic: The Welland Canals
William Hamilton Merritt
Grades: 4-7

Activity: William Hamilton Merritt Biography Cards

Materials Required:

  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Blank piece of paper/lined piece of paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue or tape

Materials Provided:

  • William Hamilton Merritt Biography Cards
  • Bio-Cube Template
  • Biography graphic organizer

Pre-Lesson: Discussion of Mind Map
On a blank piece of paper, formulate a Getting to Know You mind-map. With a partner or by yourself, brainstorm the type of things you might want to know about a person. For example: where are they from? How old are they? What is their favourite ice cream? What is an interesting fact about them that no one would guess? What was their best vacation?

Discuss the recording of the answers to these questions makes a biography of a person. A record of information about a person. Often, biographies are made about famous people who have done something very special.  

For this activity, print off the William Hamilton Merritt Biography Cards and place on a large table or open floor space to create little stations. In addition, print off the Biography graphic organizer and Bio-Cube template.

Note: if you do not have a printer, STCM has provided steps to completed this activity virtually.

1. Download Merritt Biography Information Cards, Biography graphic organizer, and Bio-Cube template.
2. Review the Merritt Biography Information Cards on your preferred electronic device (i.e. computer, tablet, iPad, etc.). If you have access to multiple devices, set up electronic stations to review the Merritt Biography Information Cards.
3. On a blank or lined piece of paper and using the STCM provided Biography graphic organizer, manually copy the graphic organizer or simply copy the headings to record your notes.
4. Review the Bio-Cube template and manually create your own. STCM suggest using a ruler to make sure all of the squares are even and equal when the time comes to fold and create your cube.
TIP: If you want to be creative, use coloured construction paper to make your Bio-Cube. Make sure the colour you have chosen is not too dark when the time comes to record your notes onto the cube.

William Hamilton Merritt is an important figure to the Niagara Region. He was the forefather of the Welland Canal, developing the idea and overseeing the construction of the First Canal.

For this activity, work with a partner or family member. Visit each station, and read the facts about William Hamilton Merritt and choose your favourite facts to write on the graphic organizer. When you are finished at one station, you may move to the next station. When all the information is collected, choose one fact to share on the appropriate section of the BioCube. For example, when filling in the Interesting Facts box, choose one interesting fact to share, find the Interesting Facts box on your page, and share the information. When all the information is shared on the BioCube, tape or glue the sides of the BioCube net to create a cube.

Wrap-up Discussion
Once you have completed your Bio-Cube, host a “mind mingle” social with your partner or family member to share your thoughts about William Hamilton Merritt. Discuss with your partner or family members who William Hamilton Merritt was, what he did, and why he is an important person to record details about him in a biography. What were some of the interesting facts you had learned from each station? Why did W. H. Merritt want to build the canal? Is he someone our community should celebrate and learn about? What else would students like to know about him?

Choose a famous Canadian to do this activity on or interview a family member and complete the same steps to create another Bio-Cube. Be sure to use reliable primary sources when recording information.

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