Are you excited to start your Heritage Fair Project, but not sure exactly where to start, or even what the creation of a Fair project involves? Below you’ll find a step-by-step guideline to help you plan your project, as well as some useful tips, advice and access to invaluable resources to assist you along the way.
Step 1. Select Your Topic
Canadian history is vast, deep and incredibly interesting. Selecting just one topic from across our country, within your own community or even from a member of your own family can be tough as there are so many great options to choose from! Your topic should explore some event, person, or trend in Canadian history that really interests you enough to spend several weeks exploring it.
Narrow down your search for the perfect topic by keeping these three simple questions in mind:
- What interests you? Start with your own interests and list them (as many as you can), and then rank them to come up with one or two which are the most compelling. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box!
- Can you back it up? Make sure that your topic has lots of sources, both primary and secondary. Think about where and if you can information on your topic, and if you can get artifacts to use in your display.
- Is it important? Even a very local or family topic can be important if you can link it to a larger story in Canadian history.
Step 2. Research
Once you’ve selected your topic and have a good idea of how and where you are going to find your information, you can start digging deeper. You will use your research notes to prepare your written report and presentation so ensure that you:
- Take your time with the research stage of your project
- Make clear, organized research notes as you work
- Keep careful track of where you found your information (bibliography)
1. Develop a Research Question
The best Heritage Fairs projects begin with a research question to which you try to find an answer. Follow the links below to get inspired and help you develop your research question, and show your question ideas to your teacher or librarian before you start researching.
2. Researching Sources
You may use a variety of sources for your research (books, interviews, magazine articles, the Internet, newspapers, etc.) but remember to keep track of where you find your information, and ensure that the work you are including is yours. Asking your parents, teachers and other adults to help with your project can be very helpful, but be sure that you fully understand the information they provide, and always include it in your own words.
Our primary and secondary sources sections will provide you with information to get you started, and be sure to check with your teacher or librarian to help decide which are most relevant.
a. Primary Sources
For your Heritage Fairs project, you will need to learn from a wide variety of sources. Some of these should be these left-behind traces, what are called primary sources. A primary source is a document such as a letter or an object such as clothing or a building, which was written or created during the time under study.
Primary Source Websites
Flickr: The Commons
Mount Royal University
THEN/Hier Primary Sources and Teaching Links
b. Secondary Sources
A secondary source interprets and analyzes primary sources. Secondary sources are one or more steps removed from the past event. The following web sites are mainly secondary sources, interpretations of the past, but most of them also include digital images of primary sources.
Secondary Source Websites
Critical Thinking Consortium Source Docs
The Dictionary of Canadian Biography
Step 3. Written Report
Once your research is complete, you are ready to begin the rough draft of your project. If you have been working with a partner, then the work should be divided in half. Your teacher will provide you with information on report writing for your grade level, but here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Cover page – take your time and make it unique! Include the topic, name, & picture (optional)
- Introduction page – Grab attention with the first page of your report
- Bibliography – list all sources and include as last page-if you are struggling to complete a bibliography, it may be worth checking out somewhere where you can buy annotated bibliography papers.
- Place each heading and its information on separate pages
- Use a minimum of 1.5 spacing
- If printing your work, choose a simple font
- When handwriting, keep it clear and consistent
- Be thorough – Capitals, punctuation and spelling are important
- Proofread your work, then proof it again.
- Have a strong reader/writer proof your work for you
Find Out More
For a free, fully automatic bibliography maker visit:
Step 4. Fair Exhibits
Creating a Fair exhibit is your opportunity to share a three dimensional story about your topic with your audience. Your project can be presented in absolutely any medium of your choice: plays, historical fiction, children’s books, music, dance, models, maps, dioramas, creative writing, original art work, computer displays, drama and video are some of the different media that students have used in the past – get creative and do what works for you! Your exhibit can also include pictures, costumes, artifacts, memoirs, diaries, videos and anything else that you think might catch your audience’s attention.
Step 5. Reflect As You Go
Successful students reap the most rewards by asking themselves questions about how well they are doing throughout their project. Dedicating time to reflect on your work not only improves the end result, but boosts confidence.
Get the best results you can by downloading and using “The Heritage Fair Project Self-Assessment” on a regular basis.
Step 6. Presentation
School, Regional and Provincial Fairs are the time to celebrate all of the hard work that you have done, and share your enthusiasm and knowledge with others! These fairs often involve a 2-3 minute presentation where you get to speak on your topic, followed by an interview where you will answer questions about it. Preparing for your presentation and your interview will boost your confidence, and help ease your nerves.
- Don’t leave it to the last minute – Give yourself lots of time to (prepare and practice) your presentation.
- Practice, practice, practice – Use cue cards and practice in front of a mirror, and speak in front of friends and family as many times as you can. The more comfortable that you are in front of an audience, the more interested they will be in your story.
- Be prepared – Ensure your cue cards are prepared, your outfit is neat and clean, and that your display is organized, secure and ready for action.
- Take your time – Take a deep breath, relax, and speak slowly and clearly. When you reach a comma, period, paragraph break and especially a new section, let yourself stop and take another breath before you continue on.
- Enjoy the moment – You’ve put a lot of time into your presentation, so allow yourself – and your audience – to enjoy it.
We’ve put together a list of project requirements and, components and some great tips and suggestions to help you create your heritage fair project. Most importantly, we encourage you to stay focused on your inquiry question and answer it thoroughly. As you prepare your presentation, think of the story you want to tell and how you can engage your audience.