Social Studies Lesson Plans
There are a variety of topics to be covered within any social studies class. The Teacher's Corner has organized some great lessons and resources around the following: community, family, maps, and a variety of mummy lessons.
Your creativity and ideas can help other teachers. Submit your social studies lesson plan or activity today. Please include any additional worksheets or documents needed or include a photo.
Social Studies Lesson Plans and Activities
This indicates resources located on The Teacher's Corner.
My World Grades K-3rd
A simple activity that can help younger students understand the relationship between their community and the world.
After a Museum Visit Grades Any
Summary: This is an excellent activity for any grade to complete after visiting a museum. This specific display focuses on the influence of railroads and was completed by a 1st grade class.
This display was created after students visited a local museum. During their time at the museum, students learned how the railroads affected the area. Upon return to school, they did an Interactive Writing lesson that allowed them to summarize their new learnings around what life was like both before and after the railroads. They also drew illustrations to accompany their text.
Submitted by: Jennifer T.
American History Grades Elementary
Summary: Two lessons that are fun and creative.
IDEA #1 We just finished a unit on Colonial America and one of the fun projects we did was to make a chart of games and toys that children played with in Colonial times and then compare it to a similar list of games and toys that children enjoy playing today. We then checked off the games that were played both then as well as today. Using this chart, we incorporated math into the project by using ratios and averages. We took it one step further and did the same thing with occupations of yesterday and today. Comparisons are great fun for kids and they can easily see the differences AND the similarities in cultures. We also read "The Village Blacksmith" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and discussed the terminology used in the poem (for example "bellows") to decipher as much as could about the blacksmith. Then we discussed "What does the term "work ethic" mean to you?"
Submitted by: RngMyBeI@email-removed
IDEA #2 Each student in my class took a different symbol in our nation's history and did a short research on it, drew a picture of the symbol and incorporated it into a pop of book.
Submitted by: dshortt@email-removed
Apple Mummies Grades Intermediate
If you aren't into mummifying chickens, here is an alternative.
Apple Unit Grades Early Elementary
Learn about a great food and the person responsible for so many apple trees...Johnny Appleseed.
Submitted by: Rebecca Becca2001@email-removed
Bedroom Maps Grades 3+
Summary: A great hands on lesson that integrates writing and map skills.
In order to reinforce map skills, my students write a detailed description of their bedrooms including shapes, sizes, colors and directional relationships between objects in their rooms. After a few lessons on maps, keys and symbols the students create an aerial view map of their room. I display the bedroom maps on the bulletin board and include a zip lock bag with the children's descriptions in the middle. There are only numbers that I can identify on the descriptions so the students don't know who wrote them. During free time, the children can take out a description and try to match it to a map on the board. If the work was done accurately, the challenge shouldn't be too difficult."
Submitted by: Stella Bock Sbock89554@email-removed , a third grade teacher. This tip was published in the NEA's Weekly Tip Newsletter.
Chicken Mummies Grades Intermediate
Here is a great lesson for students learning about Ancient Egypt.
Class History Book Grades 4+
Summary: A fun and educational way for your class to remember the events of the year.
I bring in the newspaper from home everyday until I have six days worth. I divide my class into groups and ask them to find an article with an international dateline, another state's dateline and our state's dateline. They staple these on an 8 x 11 piece of paper. Each group briefly tells the rest of the class about their articles. I fill in information and we file them. Each month I redistribute the month's pages and we narrow the articles down to the best six. We post these on the board and the students vote on which ones to keep. At the end of the school year we'll have twelve news pages for a class history book.
Submitted by: Joanne Goodrich gjgdrich@email-removed , a fifth grade teacher at Deadwood Elementary School in Deadwood, South Dakota. This tip was published in the NEA's Weekly Tip Newsletter.
Community (CA Farmers) Grades 4+
This lesson focuses on the state of California's farmers, but can easily be adapted to fit any agricultural state. It gives students the opportunity to learn about an important member of their community.
Submitted by: ICheng ICheng2828@email-removed
Community Helper Unit Grades K-2
A great unit for younger students.
Family Glyphs Grades 1+
Summary: A fun and creative way for students to share information about them and their families. A great way to integrate math into your social studies lessons.
We are working on "families" in social studies and making a glyph is at the math center. I wrote out a list of steps for the kids to follow as they make their glyph. They are making a house.
These are some of the steps I made up:
If you are_____ years old make a _________color house.
If you have a sister or sisters make a ______color roof (brother or brothers, if you are an only child)
If you are in first grade make an orange door.
Make one yellow window for each member of your family.
Make a tree for each pet you have.
Put a walkway if you like math.
Put a chimney if you like to read.
I drew little pictures next to each line so the early readers can get it too.
At that center I have all the construction paper they need and they bring their own scissors and glue. These come out so cute. I think that you can assess so much from these. Fine motor skills, following directions, sequencing, spatial relations, organizational skills.
Submitted by: Trayray@email-removed
Family Unit Grades 1-3
Summary: Family unit ideas that span several subjects. Last year, I had a social studies class in which my group did a unit on families. Here are some of the general ideas we had. We proposed a study of family life over time (including the family structure and how it has changed, e.g. the introduction of extended family, same-sex parents, etc.).
Some ideas that span across subjects:
-Oregon Trail CD-ROM
-Quilting (as it represented family life many times in earlier times)
-during election times, study how different candidates view family issues
-economics of family life (budgeting, banking, income, etc)
-how music has influenced family
-graphing *avg number of children in families over the years *mortality rates, etc
-how animal families are similar to and different from human families
-how inventions have influenced family life (science)
Submitted by: Kim
Floor Maps Grades 1-3
Summary: An easy and quick way to make great maps.
Our second grade curriculum includes a unit on Africa. I used a projector to trace the outline of Africa and the countries onto a white bed sheet. I used fabric paint to paint each country, then cut the map out. Each year I place the map on the floor on a blue bed sheet to represent the oceans. I cover the map with heavy plastic, so the children can walk on it as we work. During our study of various countries in Africa we place labels for directions on the map as well as country names, paper and plastic animals, pictures of natural resources, and yarn for the Equator, Tropic of Cancer, and Tropic of Capricorn on the continent.This activity really keeps the children focused and excited each day. I am working on a map of Australia now, and I would love to do the entire world someday!
Submitted by: Sharon Morgan a second grade teacher at South Penn Elementary School in Cumberland, Maryland. This tip was published in the NEA's Weekly "Works4Me" Email list.
Lesson Outline for 1828 Mock Elections Grades 7-12
Summary: Students will learn the political and economical issues Jackson faced as president. Students will learn how the election process works.
Before you begin: Students need to have an overview about some of the major issues in the early 1800’s such as Native American removal, slavery, child labor, government organization etc.
Set up: Students all create a short speech that focuses on the issues of the times. Instruct them to keep in mind what voters (white men) of the time would want to hear. Students should choose a political party to represent.
Nominations: Students will nominate their presidential candidates.
Campaigning: Candidates will campaign for a period of one week. They can not use any modern technologies to do so.
Debates: I have the students have a quick 15 minute debate at the beginning of each class period during campaigning. The candidates sit at the front of the room and the rest of the class will fire questions at them.
Voting: After the first debate a preliminary vote is conducted to give the candidates an idea of where they are. At the end of the week of campaigning a formal election is held.
Alternative follow-up: I have the “president and vice president” stay in office until we are finished with Jackson’s term. They are responsible for helping the class in anyway needed and are to lead any discussion on Jackson’s term.
Submitted by: Teresa Cowart - Port Richey, Florida
Don't forget to visit the Math Lesson Plans for resources!
Social Studies Basketball Grades 3+
Summary: A great way to get your students "active" in their learning. My students really enjoy reviewing for a social studies test by playing this game. A basket is placed against the wall. Pieces of tape are then put on the floor, starting close to the basket and then going further back. A point value is placed on each piece of tape such as 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and 100. The class is divided into two teams. I then ask a review question to a member of one of the teams. If the student answers correctly, that student gets to shoot the ball into the basket. If the ball goes into the basket, the scorekeeper puts the total on the board. I then alternate sides until all students have had a chance to answer a question. The side with the highest score at the end of the game wins. At the conclusion of the game, I give both sides a reward. The students love this game not only because they are reviewing for a test, but because they're having fun!
Submitted by: Gary Deurlein firstname.lastname@example.org , a fifth grade teacher at Perry Middle School in Perry, Ohio. This tip was published in the NEA's Weekly Tip Newsletter.
United States Maps!
Find a great collection of different maps on our Geography Thematic Unit page. (Scroll down to the bottom of the "Web Sites" section.) Enjoy!
Go to our Lesson Plans index
We have lesson plans for art, health, math, reading, social studies, technology, writing and more.
Also see our other Lesson Plans, Thematic Units and Activities organized by month.
Ancient Egypt Grades Upper Elementary
You can explore the mystery and splendor of Egypt from the comfort of your own computer.
This is a great teacher resource.
Ben's Guide to U.S. Government for Kids Grades K-12
Find a variety of resources that are perfect for your class.
Bicentennial of Lewis & Clark's Expedition
On January 18, 1803, Jefferson asked Congress to appropriate $2,500 for a western expedition. It was the first official exploration of unknown land organized by the United States government.
Time Magazine: Lewis and Clark Bicentennial
Lewis & Clark
National Geographic: Lewis and Clark
Books & Map Resources
EMAIL us your favorite social studies resource.