Happy back to school season!! It sure feels strange to not be joining the troops on the front lines in the classroom this school year! However, I'm really excited to be able to share my passion for American History on a larger scale! I am on a mission to bring social studies back!!! I love that I've already been able to help many classroom teachers through my Facebook group and my Teachers Pay Teachers store digital products and will definitely continue this part of my making history hip happenings!! Anyone who teaches Social Studies is welcome to join the group! Click here to join after you finish reading! https://www.facebook.com/groups/SocialStudiesSalute/
Maybe you are thinking about how easy a teacher's guide or set curriculum makes things for you. Maybe you aren't sure how to plan Social Studies units if you don't have a set guidebook. It's important that children understand the sacrifices and stories of people who have come before them so they appreciate what they have. History shouldn't be something that is skipped or left out. Here is one idea I have to help you make Social Studies awesome this year!
Person of the Month
Start by asking your children if there are any people or events from history they would like to know more about. Share anything you remember studying when you were their age that you really enjoyed (fake it if you can't remember anything) and explain why. Find a way to include these topics in your lessons no matter what. Even better have your child help you plan out a person of the month to learn more about! Kids are more motivated to learn when they have a choices. Have a special notebook or Google Drive folder to record what they are learning about their "person of the month."
Make sure you include a diverse collection of people. I have several other posts about great sites for Social Studies. Just type in what you are looking for in the search bar on the sidebar or contact me for more help! I'm kind of a SS website guru;). The National Women's History Museum is a great site for learning about significant women in history who may not normally appear in textbooks. Let your children do some exploring and have them make a list of interesting women. https://www.nwhm.org/
If you are still struggling to come up with enough people to have one per month, plan someone who would fall into the month seasonally or who was born that month. For example, Constitution Day is in September so you could do James Madison because he is the Father of the Constitution.
Wouldn't it be great if your child found so many interesting people you could do one a week? Maybe your child likes a particular sport. Incorporate role models from that sport and include any historical events that person may have lived through.
The easiest way to teach Social Studies is to integrate it into Reading! You can find biographies from the public library or Amazon in addition to online articles to use as reading materials. Have your kids use post-its to write down cool facts they are learning (post-its make everything more fun) or brainstorm a list of questions or "I wonder" statements they have about the person. Another strategy could be to have them summarize by listing important facts or make up a true/false quiz for you! See if they can stump you!
In terms of writing, have your child write about who this person reminds them of or what traits they admire. You could also have them write a first person diary entry as if they were the person. See how easy it is to tie in Language Arts skills with Social Studies?? What about grammar? Well, how about an easy parts of speech lesson? Make a three column chart and label the columns "nouns, verbs, and adjectives." See where I'm going with this?? Under nouns list names and places that go along with the person. Verbs?? What did the person do? Come up with a list of character traits that describe the person. Then cover synonyms and antonyms by creating a list of words that do NOT make sense! There are plenty more ideas where those came from:)!
You could extend this idea even further by labeling birthplaces on a map and creating timelines for each person. You could even keep a master timeline for all of your events/people you cover throughout the year! Index cards or post it notes are a great DIY timeline tool! And there are tons of great free printable maps online. I have a post about timelines here with a free, fun printable acronym/acrostic poem http://www.thesocialstudieswhisperer.com/2015/10/salute-to-social-studies-day-4.html. If you need geography help, check out this Pinterest board:
If you want to take a creative approach, let your children write a play about a person of the month and create costumes and draw background scenery on poster board. They could create the person out of play doh or clay or paint them, too. Stick puppets out of construction paper and popsicle sticks could be fun, too. Decorate shoe boxes or cereal boxes as the person's home or other important place related to them and go to town with a puppet show! Older learners could create Vokis http://www.voki.com/or Chatterpix https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/chatterpix-kids-by-duck-duck/id734046126?mt=8 to animate their person of the month.
So as you can see the "Person of the Month" idea could be something quick you do in addition to your regular lessons or it could totally springboard your curriculum! I would love to know which people your children want to know more about!! Share in the comments any cool people your family plans to study! I created a free printable outline of topics/people for each month if you need some ideas! Sign up here to receive it and receive updates and helpful tips for teaching Social Studies from me! http://bit.ly/PersonoftheMonth