Spotlight on Social Studies

The theme for this month is Social Studies and Science.  

To be honest, I've never loved Social Studies.  I remember being in High School and absolutely dreading it!  Social Studies was just so boring!  Last year I decided that instead of complaining about our social studies curriculum, I would rewrite/find better resources.  Now I have three social studies units that I absolutely LOVE to teach!    


This was the first unit I rewrote.  I put together an entire unit for my 2nd graders to learn all about Ancient China.  It was definitely their favorite!  

My school district provides these social studies kits to go along with each of our units.  This is just about a third of what we get.  My class loved seeing all the real, authentic artifacts from China!  

During the course of the unit, we learn about Chinese geography, flag, map, rivers, Confucius, Great Wall, Writing, Inventions, Silk, and Chinese New Year.  One of our favorite activities was to practice using chopsticks.  I gave each student a bag of fruit snacks, two cups, and a set of chopsticks.  They had to put all their fruit snacks in one cup.  Then, they had to use their chopsticks to move them into the other cup.  Once they did it twice, they were allowed to eat their fruit snacks.  It proved to be pretty difficult for some of them, but they loved the challenge!

Check it out here.

American Revolution

My coworker's student teacher helped me come up with a unit all about The Road to the Revolution.  It is full of fun and engaging activities to teach about the events leading up the American Revolution.  

My class LOVED this song about the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.  

I put it on my staff website, and they watch it ALL.THE.TIME.

One of our favorite activities from this unit was about The Stamp Act.  We actually put on a class demonstration on taxation.  Full, detailed instructions, name-tags, and cards are included in the unit, but here's a quick rundown for you.  Choose students to be the king, two members of parliament, and two tax collectors.  The rest of the students are the colonists.  Give each colonist some classroom money.  The members of parliament read the cards to say who is going to be taxed.  The cards say things like, "If you are wearing a headband, you are taxed 15 cents".  Tax collectors collect the money, and also have to pay taxes.  Once all the colonists have been taxed, the money is counted and half of it is given to the king.  The tax collectors get a small portion, and the members of parliament split the rest.  My class had a love/hate relationship with this activity.  It really hit home to them how awful taxation without representation was.  We had great discussions on what was/wasn't fair, and how the colonists must have felt during this time.  

Check out more of the fun included in this packet here!


I found the best book to help us learn all about economics - Striker Jones.  

It's an excellent chapter book that helps teach students basic economic principles.  It even has a Teacher's Companion that lays out every lesson for you with objectives, questions, and activities.  We used about half of the book for our unit and loved it!  They get so excited to hear the next chapter.  The first chapter/lesson was all about trading.  One of the activities was to give each child one piece of candy, so they each get something different.  Then, they spent a few minutes trading.  At the end, we had a lot of great discussion on the pros and cons of trading.  Some children ended up happy, but there were still a few unhappy with their trades.  It was an awesome activity!

How do you make Social Studies exciting for your class?
What are your favorite topics to teach?

1 comment :

  1. Janae, your social studies units sound wonderful! I love the way you built in so many engaging activities. I think I need to try the chop stick practice. On my trip to China last year I had to ask for a fork several times!
    Debbie Crockett
    Crockett's Classroom . . . Forever in Third Grade