Sneak social studies and geography into your daily classroom routine with some of these teacher-tested ideas. Whether you teach elementary or middle school, there are some great ways to make these subjects come alive and fit in with curriculum standards. Plan to integrate a few new ideas and watch your students grow and learn as they become citizens of the world.
Social Studies Comes to Life
Read Into It
Pick up a social studies or geography related book for your morning meeting reading time, transition time, or whenever you read aloud to your class. Don’t read aloud to them? Try it! You will be amazed how even the toughest middle schoolers enjoy a good story being read aloud. Some series you may want to consider include The Magic Tree House books by Mary Pope Osborne and the Social Studies Connects series by Kane Press.
Virtual Field Trips
Have you ever wanted to show students what The White House looks like? Take a virtual field trip using their interactive tour. Are you studying China? Go on a virtual trip to the Great Wall of China to get a feel for what it looks like. With the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War recently passed, an interactive field trip to Gettysburg may be in order for your middle school students. And who would not want to see the inside of an Egyptian pyramid? Now your students can when you explore the pyramids online. If you are searching for a way to integrate a virtual field trip with a book you are reading, check out Google Lit Trips site that features virtual tours of some of the most popular books’ locations using Google Earth.
Map & Map Reading
Start the week off with a throw of a magnetic dart and see where your class will be headed throughout the next few school days. Place a world, country, or state map on a magnetic white board and gently toss a dart at it. Wherever the dart lands is where your class will be studying for the next few days during morning or afternoon meeting. Students can be tasked with finding out quick facts about the location and adding them to a class journal about “visited” locations. Other fun map reading activities that require getting out and about include geocaching and letterboxing. They are also great activities to suggest to families over summer vacation.
Start a postcard project with your students and collect postcards from all over the country or world. Use a pushpin to indicate on a map where each postcard came from and set a goal to collect one from all 50 states or a certain number of countries. You might also want to participate in a Flat Stanley project and have students map the location of their traveling Flat Stanley.
Integrating social studies and geography into your daily curriculum can be challenging, but it is a way to excite and educate your students in subjects that get very little classroom time. What are some of your favorite social studies and geography lesson ideas? Share them with us below!