I almost take it personally when told that kids in various schools don’t like social studies. I think that this is one of the coolest subjects in school; maybe this is because as a social studies teacher I am obviously biased. I am not sure what exactly teachers do so kids would not have any interest in it, and I think this is very sad because in reality social studies as a subject is all about our roots and ourselves. It is about the way people used to live and continue to live nowadays. That’s why I believe it has to be taught in exciting way by immersing students in the atmosphere of the subject they are exploring at the moment. There are many ways to make the learning fun: making costumes, learning about diverse traditions, cooking food, predicting the outcome of events, holding discussions and disputes, doing research,drawing maps, creating visual presentations such as power points or movies, building family trees, and so on. There are plenty of sources available online nowadays. The only thing needed is a bit of creativity and a spark of excitement!
Here is one of the great historical resources, and we are starting to do it this week.. My students already can’t wait to begin the research.
What mysteries does this site propose to kids? Great Chicago fire, Lost colony of Roanoke, The Disappearance of Amelia Earhart to name a few.. What did my students add to the list? Bermuda Triangle and Atlantis! It is such a pleasure to see kids being so excited about this project, actually any project, even a small one.
The learning experience has to be alive, I would say almost tangible. It could be even a project combined with ELA or other subjects. Let’s say it’s a book report on historical fiction novel or biography, maybe some research about the great historical figures. As a part of American History, I am planning to take kids downtown to play Scavenger Hunt with historical buildings. I also have in plans to make a book with memoirs of our community members about their life in Buffalo. There will be stories of people who were born and lived all their life here. There also will be stories of young couples who moved to our city from different countries.
We already did a hands-on project about diverse Jewish communities over the world. Kids were fascinated to learn about our rich heritage. They researched historical facts, drew specialized migration maps, made national costumes for themselves, created the dolls’ exhibition in historic clothing, practiced traditional dances and enjoyed cooking the exotic foods. Believe it or not, but boys are eager to do it no less then girls.
There are so many things we can do to give our kids appreciation of the diverse cultures, to help them to learn lessons for the future from the past, and just simply to develop their thirst for knowledge by having fun in the classroom..
Doesn’t matter how tired and sleepy I can be, I know I’ll come to school and will be be loaded with my students’ energy and will feel recharged ! I am so grateful for my job ! It is the best one ! 🙂