Sketching Claims and Evidence

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Lesson Summary: 

Students collect evidence which they use to form a supported claim, using sketches to create a visual recording of their findings. This builds on the unit objective of collecting evidence to compare and contrast multiple ecosystems. This lesson is written to pair with the History Mystery lesson, and can be used in partnership with any investigation that involves collecting quantities of evidence.


  • Students will be able to capture evidence using multiple senses throughout the exploration or investigation
  • Students will be able to develop a claim based on a substantial base of evidence
  • Students will explore color and form through sketches


  • Formative:  Facilitate a group discussion about the definitions of claims and evidence. What constitutes good evidence (review quality, quantity, size of assumption)?
  • Summative: Review completed work to check for separate pieces of evidence, to see what students collected as evidence, and to assess how the evidence supported their claim. You can also do this with the team as part of the investigation debrief.

Age Group: Grades 5 - 6


Venue(s): Spine Trail, Harbor, Cemetery, MillWorkers Cabin, Great Hall, Welcome Center, Video Alcove, or any other areas visited in the course of the History Mystery


Materials: Half sheets of cardstock, colored pencils, sharpie pens


Duration:  Full Day (interspersed with History Mystery)

The lesson:


Collect the sharpies and cardstock, cut cardstock into half sheets. Depending on your group’s needs, you can pre-mark the sheets for them: use a pen to create three equal sections with vertical lines, then divide the left and right sections in half horizontally. There should be 5 total sections - 4 small, and one large in the middle. (See Fig. C)


“Today, we are going to solve a mystery! What was happening here on IslandWood’s property about 100 years ago? We’ve talked a lot today/this week about supporting our claims with evidence. Today, we get to practice recording the evidence we collect in order to solve our mystery.” 



Throughout the course of the investigation, students should visit at least 4 sites to collect evidence (possible venues listed above). Each time students visit a new site, have them observe their environment for evidence of humans from 100+ years ago. After taking a few minutes to observe, pass out colored pencils and paper and ask students to draw a sketch of their evidence in one of the four small squares. Depending on your group’s needs, you can also ask them to record a few notes about each on the back of their card. If you do this, it is helpful to have them label each box 1 - 4, and mark data accordingly on the reverse. Encourage use of color and detail, as they will need an accurate depiction of their evidence to remember it at the end of the day.

By the end of the History Mystery, students should have 4 sketches representing evidence they collected throughout the day. Facilitate a discussion about the various pieces of evidence students discovered, and review the process of creating a claim statement. (“ I think [claim] because [evidence].”)

Pass out a sharpie marker to each student, and ask them to write their claim statement in the middle section of their sheet. You can also choose to write two separate statements in this section: a hypothesis/prediction and a separate conclusion once the mystery has been revealed.


  • Encourage students to share their sketches and claim statements with the rest of the team.
  • Facilitate a post-investigation discussion.

          How did your claim compare to the reality of what happened at IslandWood 100+ years ago?

          What are the characteristics of quality evidence?

          How might you improve your body of evidence the next time you investigate a mystery?

Transfer of Learning: 

Facilitate a discussion about the real world applications of recording data collections.

         Why is it helpful to have a visual representation of our evidence?

         How can you use sketching to record your observations in the future?








Created by Carrie K Guess on April 4, 2017.