Social studies can feel like the lost subject with the push toward STEAM and Language Arts. Despite not getting the limelight, teaching students about history, culture, and traditions is vitally important. It helps shape perceptions, breaks down barriers, and gives students a frame of reference for events happening today. These teacher-tested social studies lessons are just the way to get started!
Social Studies Activities for the Classroom
This idea by Cyndy, a 2nd Grade Teacher, from Savannah, TN focuses on culture. “We launch our year of Social Studies with a focus on family heritage including cultures, traditions, and customs. I begin by telling students about the traditions and holidays my own family celebrates. I then send students home with an assignment to discuss the topic of traditions with their own families, then pick one tradition to write about. Students return to class with new perspectives and ready to share with the rest of us what they learned at home.”
Holidays Around the World
Celebrate different traditions with this idea from Kimberly, a 2nd Grade Teacher, from New Paris, PA. “As part of our middle school after-school program, we researched various holidays celebrated in countries around the world. I asked students to work in groups to select a country and then use numerous resources to learn about that country’s holiday season. I prepared a list of questions to guide their research. Students then had to use the information they found to make a poster, a presentation, and a dish that would be served in that country during that holiday. The students loved learning about and tasting items from other countries. This approach to learning allowed me to tie in many core subjects and home economic skills.”
Learning About Elections
“To help students comprehend the details of the presidential election, I read aloud the book, Duck for President by Doreen Cronin (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2004),” said Carrie, a Kindergarten/Title 1 Teacher, from Vancouver, WA. “We then hold a classroom election to determine which barnyard animal from the story should be president.
I purchased a ballot box for students to use when they cast their votes. Together we will tally the votes and graph the results. This year, I also plan on distributing Future President stickers and on having the children complete a simple writing prompt, “If I were the President…”
Two good read-aloud book titles to pair with the writing prompt portion of this activity are If I Ran for President [Albert Whitman & Company, 2007] and If I Were President [Albert Whitman & Company; Reprint edition, 1999], both by children’s book author, Catherine Stier.”
What are some of your favorite social studies lessons? Share with us below!