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The god who wanted to rule the seas
Lesson duration 05:02
Is Chandigarh a perfectly planned city?
Lesson duration 05:16
The real reason dodo birds went extinct
Lesson duration 05:32
History vs. Egypt’s "most powerful" pharaoh
Lesson duration 06:26
The history of poker: Bluffing, betting, and busting
Lesson duration 05:43
The rights you might not realize you have
Lesson duration 05:30
The diseases that changed humanity forever
Lesson duration 05:44
What killed all the bison?
Lesson duration 05:23
The gory history of barber surgeons
Lesson duration 05:36
What really killed the dinosaurs? (It wasn’t just the asteroid)
Lesson duration 05:26
What really caused the Irish Potato Famine
Lesson duration 05:04
Japan's scariest ghost story
Lesson duration 06:02
The dark history of werewolves
Lesson duration 05:21
A tour of the ancient Greek Underworld
Lesson duration 05:37
A 5,300-year-old murder mystery
Lesson duration 05:09
How dangerous was it to be a jester?
Lesson duration 04:56
How labor unions shape society - Margaret Levi
Lesson duration 17:05
The rise and fall of Italy’s warriors-for-hire
Lesson duration 05:19
One of history's most dangerous myths
Lesson duration 05:12
Why did Megalodon go extinct?
Lesson duration 05:25
What caused the Rwandan Genocide?
Lesson duration 06:22
Why is Marie Antoinette so controversial?
Lesson duration 05:49
Does working hard really make you a good person? - Azim Shariff
Lesson duration 12:28
Who is the fastest god in all mythology?
Lesson duration 05:38
- Grades 6-12
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Black History Month for Kids: Google Slides, Resources, and More!
55+ Best Social Studies Websites for the Classroom
Don’t you love it when other teachers do the research for us?
Social studies takes a look at the different branches of human society, and as we’ve navigated this global pandemic, we’ve watched a major moment in history unfold. Why not use this opportunity to push our kids and students to explore humanity? Whether you’re teaching online or in-person, this list of the best social studies websites will help you create lessons that are informative, fun, and interactive. We’ve categorized over 55 of the best social studies websites as follows:
Social Studies Lessons
- Virtual Museum Tours
Virtual Field Trips
- Games and Simulations
This historical atlas of the United States combines cutting-edge research with innovative interactive mapping techniques.
American Social History Project
This resource challenges traditional ways of learning about the past by exploring the diverse social and cultural histories of the United States. The site also offers professional development seminars for teachers.
Big History Project
Focused on high school students, the Big History Project is a joint effort between teachers, scholars, scientists, and their supporters to bring a multi-disciplinary approach to knowledge.
Crash Course World History
This fantastic YouTube channel provides an engaging glimpse into some of the most notable events and developments in history. With sequences of videos on the World Wars, the history of science, U.S. History, and more, it’s a great first introduction or review.
Crash Course Kids
The creators of Crash Course have also created a second channel geared towards younger students. This biweekly show is meant for elementary school kids and covers topics ranging from Earth science to chemical reactions.
Need a list of some great history websites? EdTechTeacher has done the hard work and compiled them all for you!
The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
A nonprofit organization that has developed an array of programs for schools, teachers, and students that now operate in all fifty states, including a website that features more than 60,000 unique historical documents.
The Idea of America
At its heart, America is an idea. What keeps this idea vibrant? The Idea of America is a digital U.S. history program that presents our nation’s rich history through an original framework that views America as an enduring “Great Debate.”
A free inquiry-based distance learning curriculum created by inquirED. The 20-minute social studies lessons can be done at home and address questions like How can I capture where I am in time and place? , How can we communicate with others to share our thoughts and ideas? , and How can we celebrate our everyday heroes? . New inquiries are being released weekly.
Library of Congress
It’s hard to beat the National Library of Congress. It’s one of the best social studies websites and even features an entire portal just for teachers.
Use the online tool to access countless primary source documents to enhance learning. Find lesson plans and more on the Educator Resources page.
This colorful site contains lessons that meet national and state standards as well as STEM and College and Career Readiness goals. They’ve even got lessons on coronaviruses!
Smithsonian’s History Explorer
Developed by the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian’s History Explorer is designed for K-12 teachers and students and offers hundreds of free, innovative online resources for teaching and learning American history.
Stanford History Education Group
The Reading Like a Historian curriculum promotes historical inquiry while engaging students. The lessons are designed to explore a central historical question and include a set of primary documents for students of various reading skills.
Studies Weekly Online
It’s easy to see why we’ve included this on our list of the best social studies websites. Studies Weekly Online allows you to create a customized, standards-based curriculum for social studies and offers a free trial.
TCI offers the full package! You’ll find resources to help you better prepare, present, assign, grade, and teach—even through distance learning!
Teaching American History
The Ashbrook Center at Ashland University worked with the National Endowment for the Humanities to develop web-based lesson plans for U.S. history and American government teachers.
This site is designed to help K–12 history teachers access resources and materials to improve U.S. history education in the classroom and through distance learning.
Teaching Tolerance is dedicated to reducing prejudice, improving intergroup relations, and supporting equitable school experiences for our nation’s children. There is even a special module specifically designed for the racism surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
Utah Education Network
This interactive site is designed for 3-6 grade students and includes lessons on geography, environment, U.S. history, and U.S. government.
Voices of Democracy
On this site, you will find scholarly articles offering critical analyses of significant speeches, curriculum units designed for undergraduate teachers and students, lesson plans for high school and middle school teachers, and a blog with brief commentaries on speeches and pedagogical issues.
World History Matters
A portal to world history websites including Women in World History, World History Sources, and more.
World History Project
This infinitely adaptable, free standards-aligned world history course for high school students connects to the past to the present, with an eye to the future.
Art institute of chicago.
Enjoy virtual visits to the galleries, go behind the scenes, and engage with art from anywhere with our virtual events, videos, and themed audio tours.
Boston Children’s Museum
Explore three floors of the Boston Children’s Museum on this virtual tour which includes fun stops at the Explore-a-Saurus and Japanese House exhibits.
British Museum, London
Located in the heart of London, students can explore this iconic museum with exhibits dedicated to everything from Egyptian mummies to the Rosetta Stone and Egyptian mummies.
Detroit Institute of Arts
Explore the “ At Home With DIA ” museum experience at the Detroit Institute of Arts that offers virtual field trips, online exhibits, weekly film screenings, and more.
Guggenheim Museum, New York
This is definitely one of the best social studies websites around! Use Google’s Street View feature to tour the world-famous Guggenheim museum, including works of art and the breathtaking spiral staircase.
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
The Street View tour of this California museum gives students access to European artworks that date back as far as the 8th Century.
Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Travel to Paris might be out of the question right now, but students can virtually walk through this gallery which includes works from Monet, Cézanne, Gauguin, and more.
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Scope out two incredible online exhibits through Google: one dedicated to American fashion and another featuring a collection of works from Dutch Baroque painter Johannes Vermeer.
National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City
Dig into the archaeology and history of Mexico’s pre-Hispanic heritage with a virtual tour of 23 exhibit rooms , including artifacts from the Mayan civilization.
National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul
South Korea might be on the other side of the Pacific, but you can still visit one of the country’s most popular museums through this extensive virtual tour of Contemporary art from Korea and more.
Pergamon Museum, Berlin
This historical museum in Germany provides a virtual glimpse of ancient artifacts, including the Ishtar Gate of Babylon and the Pergamon Altar.
Explore the masterworks from the Dutch Golden Age, including works from Vermeer and Rembrandt. Google offers a Street View tour of this iconic museum, so you can feel as if you’re actually wandering its halls.
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
Vincent Van Gogh is one of the most iconic painters of all time, and this virtual tour allows visitors to marvel at the largest collection of his artwork.
Discovery Education Virtual Field Trips
Go beyond the classroom walls and explore some of the world’s most iconic destinations—no permission slips required.
Explore a variety of remote learning opportunities for students, including virtual field trips (Elkhorn Slough) , science challenges , walkabouts , and more. The site also offers a teacher resource library .
The Great Lakes
Embark on a virtual field trip that covers three main components: coastal wetlands, algae, and lake sturgeon. The videos are short and targeted at middle schoolers.
The Great Wall of China
Even through a virtual tour on a tiny screen, students will be dazzled by the magnificence and wonder of this thousands-year-old fortification system.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
There’s so much to see at this iconic New York museum—even on a virtual tour. From couture ball gowns to a history of music, students will be captivated by the 26 online galleries.
Nature Works Everywhere
These wonderful virtual field trips allow students to explore a coastal rain forest or the coral reefs in the Dominican Republic, and so much more.
San Diego Zoo
Check out the fantastic behind-the-scenes videos and stories. Then, be sure to check out the great list of activities and downloadables.
The Seattle Aquarium hosts a 30-minute virtual field trip. Students can learn about the animals and the food web that can be found in the Puget Sound waters.
This incredibly cool and responsive website allows students to explore more than 60,000 stars, watch sunrises, search for planets, and more!
These self-guided virtual tours give students an up-close look at permanent, current, and past exhibits.
U.S. Census Bureau
This site details the Census Bureau’s plans used to engage, educate, and ultimately count an increasingly diverse and growing population.
Perfect for K-8 social studies students, this site includes curriculum content, online learning videos, and quizzes along with a list of the corresponding national and state Standards.
Yellowstone National Park
The best way to experience Yellowstone is to visit. The second best way is to explore the cool interactive maps and, of course, the live stream of the Old Faithful Geyser eruptions.
Social Studies Games and Simulations
Classroom law project.
Dive into engaging civics and law-related education programs. Students of all grade levels can learn more about the values and skills essential to being a responsible citizen.
Kids Discover Online
Choose articles based on reading level, so you can use these articles for various ages and skillsets. Schools and districts closed due to the outbreak can request free unlimited access to Kids Discover Online.
This free, core academic website delivers videos, animations, and simulations for middle-school and high-school students.
Horrible Histories BBC
This pick for best social studies websites allows students to “watch episodes, play games, and sing along to your favorite Horrible Histories songs!”
iCivics provides tools to help students learn about civic life. Teachers and students can access printable lesson plans, interactive digital tools, and award-winning games.
National Constitution Center
Established by Congress, this interactive website provides free online resources for remote students of all ages who are learning more about the Constitution.
Want more online resource suggestions? Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter so you can get our latest picks.
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10 Smart Ideas for Integrating Language Arts and Social Studies
Build the bridge between ELA and social studies. Continue Reading
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Digital Resources for Teaching Social Studies with PBS LearningMedia
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Helpful links: Create a FREE PBS LearningMedia account Classroom resources Lesson Builder Tool
PBS LearningMedia provides trusted, free, high-quality resources organized into subject-specific collection pages that can be filtered by grade and subtopic within social studies. Social studies resources include short videos, lessons and interactive games. PBS LearningMedia ‘s online library of resources is here to help your students keep learning!
We’ve listed all of the social studies collections in PBS LearningMedia for easy use. Find a featured collection and suggested learning activity to get you started. Note that all resources can be shared to Google Classroom, emailed or posted to a website.
Start by creating a FREE PBS LearningMedia account to access all the features. You can use the Lesson Builder Tool to add instruction or discussion questions to resources. For example, you can find a lesson about how World War I affected the United States, France, Great Britain, and Germany (and why it was such a challenge for Woodrow Wilson to orchestrate a just peace) that guides you through the process of engaging students virtually.
Need support for getting started with PBS LearningMedia? Join us for a weekly training webinar Wednesdays at 7:30am PDT. Register
Spring Semester Social Studies These collections of resources curated by LA Unified School District can support distance learning during school closures. Grades 3-5: Social Studies | Grades 6-8: Social Studies U.S. History | World History | Gov/Econ
PBS LearningMedia Social Studies Collections (full list) → Within these collections, you can filter by grade and resource type.
Social Studies Collections by Topics
- Featured collection: Molly of Denali (grades K-2) and Great States (grades 3-13+)
- Featured stand-alone video and lesson plan: Your Vote Counts! (grades 4-6)
- Featured collection: Civil Rights (grades 3-13+) and Crash Course-Government and Politics (grades 9-13+)
- Featured video and support materials: The Electoral College-Why Such a Big Debate? (grades 6-12)
- Featured collection: Commanding Heights-The Battle for the World Economy (grades 9-12)
- Featured stand-alone video and support materials: Should We Raise the Minimum Wage? (grades 6-12)
- Featured video series: The Power of Place (grades 9-13+)
- Featured stand-alone interactive and supporting materials: How California Distributes Its Water in Dry Times (grades 6-7)
- Featured: Ken Burns In the Classroom (grades 4-13+)
- Featured Ken Burns collection: The Vietnam War (grades 9-13+)
- Featured activity: Weekly News Quiz (grades 4-12)
- Featured collection: Global Learning & Awareness (grades 3-13+) and Africa’s Great Civilizations (grades 6-9)
- Featured stand-alone video and supporting materials: How Did Homo Sapiens Succeed? (grades 6-12)
For additional resources, PreK-12 Resources for Emergency Closing Collection is a more extensive list of PBS LearningMedia collections organized by grade and subject area.
Find more resources here: How Teachers Can Navigate School Closures Due to the Coronavirus , including KQED Learn training webinars, curriculum aligned-TV schedule and more.
No Series: Early Elementary Social Studies Part 2 (Uncut)
Common core State Standards
- ELA: English Language Arts
- SL: Speaking and Listening Standards K-5
- 1: 1st Grade
- 1a: Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups. a. Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion). b. Build on others' talk in conversations by responding to the comments of others through multiple exchanges. c. Ask questions to clear up any confusion about the topics and texts under discussion.
Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)
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Early Elementary Social Studies Part 2 (Uncut)
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Discussion and Supporting Materials
- Supporting Materials
- What You'll See: speaking & listening, classroom community, family identity, symbols & flags, classroom management?
Amenah Saleh Sep 20, 2021 1:12pm
I a greay with you the teacher give her student feadback and do some corractions in a positive ton .She is calm always with her student.
Terry Donovan Aug 14, 2021 8:32pm
In the lesson for the day the teacher is teaching about families, starting with family action. She has the students act out the actions by standing up and the first action was sleeping. All the kids laid down to mimic sleep. They continued to act out the actions of their own families. It was great to see them actually acting it out rather than just talking it through.
She then moved to an exercise where the students needed to compare their family to an animal. My favorite part of what she did was when one kid said he wasn sure, she put him at ease by saying don't worry if you are not sure just say so. I think that gains enormous trust with the whole class.
Another great tool she used was when they were making a project to define their families, the teacher had the students use colors, symbols and pictures. I think this is a great way for kids to immerse themselves in the project and adds to their learning. Also having the kids make flags for their families sparked their creative side.
Ana Harston Mar 4, 2021 9:40pm
Teacher has chunked the lesson over days. She gives prefer seating to students who need guidance. Students are given instructions in a circle. Teacher gives examples. She tells students they can use symbols pictures and colors to represent or connect to their family. Students are listening, speaking and recalling or building upon prior experience or knowledge. Students are recognizing flags and what they represent and why. Students will use their imagination to create a flag that represents their family heritage.
Julieanne Held Mar 3, 2021 12:08pm
Hello! My name is Julie Held and I am the 6th Grade school counselor at North Pole Middle School. We currently have about 157 6th graders enrolled with approximately 130 attending in person, about 15 doing remote learning and the rest doing elearning.
I chose Early Elementary Social Studies video for 2 reasons. One, most of my academic career has been in the elementary school as a special education teacher, teaching resource room and children with behavior difficulties and as a regular education teacher. I enjoy gathering new techniques that can be shared with other teachers. The second reason I chose this video is because it is talking about families, which I find very interesting given the fact that I am also a counselor. I often look at teaching strategies, and classroom management strategies. I really enjoyed the fact she gave out more than 5 positive complements to every correction! Wven when the children were getting restless, she was able to consistently give positive feedback and was able to do corrections in a very positive tone, continue on with her message, and while being filmed with what appeared to be several people in the room!
Adriana Manhasset Apr 30, 2018 4:47pm
Julieanne Held Mar 3, 2021 12:13pm
I agree with you as roleplaying allows children to see the right way and wrong way to solve their problems independently without always relying on the teacher. It gives them tools to use when problems arrise.
- Transcript: Early Elementary Social Studies Part 2 (Uncut)
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This website gives you the opportunity see the world through different people …
This website gives you the opportunity see the world through different people all over the world on a variety of topics. Watch videos, see lesson plans about global issues and looking at it from a lense of focus on 100 people.
Students will bee able to celebrate the 100th day of school by …
Students will bee able to celebrate the 100th day of school by bringing in a project representing it. They will also fill out a chart that has 100 blank squares for them to fill in.
Draft of 1.1
This is a Google Slide on biodiversity and then activities followed by …
This is a Google Slide on biodiversity and then activities followed by a Google Forms quiz.
This unit on American Indians: By studying the regions of the United …
This unit on American Indians: By studying the regions of the United States and the cultures that live in each region, students are able to compare/contrast within regions and across regions how tribes used their environments, and their cultural and other contributions to American life.
Note that the emphasis here is on broader groups of tribes for each region with some instruction on specific tribes representing each region. In no way is this case study approach to learning about one tribe meant to be generalized to all tribes of that region. We understand that each tribe was and continues to be unique in its culture, practices, lifeways, and traditions.
The unit is focused on the examination of geography in terms of …
The unit is focused on the examination of geography in terms of “place.” Students dive into inquiry to answer the compelling questions, “Where are we?” and “Who are we?” Through these two questions students will understand where they live and where people around the world live. Students will also dive into the term “culture” and define it through many characteristics. Students will examine and reflect upon their own culture and research different cultures of North America.
We live on the continent of North America in the country of …
We live on the continent of North America in the country of the United States. There are 50 states in this great country and as citizens of the United States we should know what those states are. In this seminar you will learn the names and locations of all 50 states. Wow your friends and family with your geographical knowledge! Standards7.1.4.B Describe and locate places and regions as defined by physical and human features.
This lesson introduces kindergarten students to correct upper- and lowercase letter formation. …
This lesson introduces kindergarten students to correct upper- and lowercase letter formation. As students begin learning the letter names of the alphabet, they will begin practicing correct formation by tracing, copying, and writing letters. This can be done with a variety of tactile learning activities to accommodate individual learning styles.
Acceleration of Learning- Responding Quickly to Gaps in Learning
By Pedro Antunes with help from ms Fox
This lesson looks at the natural resources that drew businesses to Alabama. …
This lesson looks at the natural resources that drew businesses to Alabama. Students will explore the adapted 1820 letter from Mason and Dexter in Cahaba, Alabama to Richards and Simmons in Cumberland, Rhode Island. Students will explain ideas within this historical text based on specific information presented in this primary source. This lesson can be used as a stand alone or can follow A Natural Attraction: The Natural Resources of Alabama During the Early Nineteenth Century . This lesson was created in partnership with the Alabama Department of Archives and History.
In this lesson, students will work in small groups to examine a …
In this lesson, students will work in small groups to examine a letter describing the environment of Alabama and identify reasons which might have encouraged settlers to move to Alabama in the early nineteenth century. Students will choose an interesting attraction of Alabama mentioned in the letter and design a postage stamp around that attraction. This lesson was created in partnership with the Alabama Department of Archives and History.
In this lesson, students will learn about the executive branch of government …
In this lesson, students will learn about the executive branch of government at the state level, especially related to the first governors of the state of Alabama. Their impact on the development of Alabama and Alabama's role in the United States will be discussed. Students will use research and note taking skills to gather information on an early governor. Then students will participate in jigsaw groups to share their information, discuss the importance of each governor, similarities, and impact. Finally, students will discuss the role of governor and how governors have an impact on the state and the impact these men had in Alabama and in other states. This lesson was created in partnership with the Alabama Department of Archives and History.
Students will read a description of the pine barrens by Basil Hall …
Students will read a description of the pine barrens by Basil Hall and analyze the text by using the 3-2-1 strategy. Students will discuss the life and work of Basil Hall, including his travels and journaling in North America. They will observe how a camera lucida functions and debate whether using a camera lucida is "cheating" in art. Next, students will venture outside to create a sketch of their environment while appropriately utilizing materials. They will compare and contrast their products to the sketches of Basil Hall and critique each other's work. This lesson was created in partnership with the Alabama Department of Archives and History.
This lesson plan allows students to learn about state symbols.
How do animals communicate in the environment? And how does this affect …
How do animals communicate in the environment? And how does this affect their behaviour? Learn about animal communication in this GCSE / K12 Ecology video from the Virtual School.
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This is a set of slides that are meant for novice students …
This is a set of slides that are meant for novice students of Arabic. 1. The first set is a set of slides each for an arabic letter in its different shapes based on its position in the word. Sample words are given as an example for each letter position in the word. The vocabulary selected is mostly related to food and has been selected with novice students in mind. 2. The second is a set of two-sided flashcards. The front side shows the Arabic letter, while the back side shows its different shapes based on the position in the word. A sample vocabulary word is given as an example.
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Integrating Social Studies in Elementary School Lessons
With school days so packed, these strategies help teachers integrate social studies concepts and skills across the curriculum.
We need to have a frank talk about social studies in elementary classrooms. The good news is, we are. In fact, the recent National Council for Teachers of Social Studies conference had many sessions not only on the challenges of implementing a social studies curriculum but also on creative solutions. In addition, a recent report from the RAND corporation, “ The Missing Infrastructure for Elementary (K–5) Social Studies Instruction ,” shares many of these challenges and makes recommendations for prioritizing social studies in elementary school. The full report is available for download, but here are some of the main conclusions.
- State-level infrastructure varies widely and is missing in many states. The mechanisms include assessments, academic standards, and laws.
- Local-level infrastructure in districts and schools is missing in relation to other core subjects, such as English language arts and math. In fact, there’s less reported professional learning and accountability related to social studies.
- Only half of elementary principals reported adoption of comprehensive curriculum materials, which is a key piece for other core subject areas.
- Elementary schools that do in fact have curriculum materials, professional learning, and the like report a shared presence for social studies teaching practices.
- States work to adopt more rigorous and consistent standards and frameworks.
- State departments of education support and provide better transparency on high-quality social studies curriculum materials.
- Districts provide support (professional development, teacher evaluation, etc.) targeted to social studies.
- States determine how to hold schools accountable for improving student achievement in social studies.
As an educator, you most likely read these findings and thought, “Yes, those findings make sense,” or “I’ve had a similar experience.”You may have a feeling of helplessness and believe that all of those recommendations are outside your sphere of influence. You may even be thinking, “Well, there’s nothing I can do.”
Let’s consider instead what educators at the classroom level can do, along with some resources to support it.
Integration with core content
While there are many levels and frameworks for integration, educators can do their best to make authentic and meaningful connections to social studies in the teaching of other core content. In fact, in 2017 the National Council for the Social Studies articulated integration as a valuable practice for social studies in elementary schools: “Integrating social studies throughout the day eases competition for time in an increasingly crowded curriculum. With a strong interdisciplinary curriculum, teachers find ways to promote children’s competence in social sciences, literacy, mathematics, and other subjects within integrated learning experiences.”
One key takeaway is that integration of social studies should be meaningful and not an extra—integration for integration’s sake. Rather, as educators teach the various content areas, they can look for explicit moments to teach social studies concepts and skills. This isn’t simply reading a social studies–themed text but instead adding explicit instruction on that theme or concept. The Council of Chief State School Officers offers some concrete integration practices, including selecting texts for integration that support social studies content learning and using said standards when planning for integration.
Tip: When planning a unit, start with the standards, and find authentic connection between social studies standards and other content standards.
Leverage open education resources
We’re all looking for high-quality resources, and one of the challenges indicated in the Missing Infrastructure for Elementary (K–5) Social Studies Instruction report is access to those materials. Instead of paying for resources, many states and organizations have contributed to the Open Educational Resources Commons . Many states have their own “hubs” with resources that have been vetted and aligned to standards. Resources include lessons, videos, texts, handouts, and activities. All of these resources are free to access and can be customized to meet the needs of educators and students. This will help save time in planning and perhaps alleviate associated stress.
Tip: Search by standard in order to better ensure alignment. All the resources can be overwhelming, and those linked to standards are more likely to be of high quality.
Consider focused Inquiries
Inquiry can be viewed (sometimes rightfully) as an overwhelming and long process. Indeed, many inquiry-based practices, like project-based learning, involve extended inquiry overtime. If that’s not possible, a more focused inquiry that’s limited in time will allow you to explicitly engage in high-quality social studies teaching.
I slightly modified a second-grade New York state inquiry task titled, “ Urban, Suburban, and Rural ,” aligned to the inquiry arc of the College, Career and Civic Life (C3) Framework . It involves the following steps: (1) engaging students in an initial discussion on the support question, (2) examining the featured sources to write a performance task, and (3) a summative task where students apply their learning and continue to cite featured sources.
Focused inquiry on types of communities : How Would Our Lives Be Different If We Lived in a Different Kind of Community?
- C3 Framework indicator: D2.Geo.2.K-2. Use maps, graphs, photographs, and other representations to describe places and the relationships and interactions that shape them.
- Staging the question: Create individual or class brainstorm lists of how students’ lives might be different if they lived in a different place.
- Supporting question: How are communities different and alike?
- Formative performance task: Write a paragraph describing three characteristics of the local community that are similar to or different from the comparison community.
- Summative performance tasks: Argument: How would our lives be different if we lived in a different kind of community? Create an argument through a product of choice that addresses the question of how people’s lives are affected by where they live. Use examples shared in class to support your ideas.
- Extension/taking action: Research a challenge or problem in a different community and brainstorm ideas to help.
Featured sources: These are used to answer the supporting questions and are cited in the performance tasks.
Source A: An image bank (sourced from websites and/or curriculum materials): Daily life in urban, suburban, and rural communities
Source B: Teacher-gathered images of the students’ community and other communities
If more time is allotted, educators can expand these inquiry experiences to include more primary sources with questions and formative tasks. C3 Teachers links to many state hubs that have many inquiries with multiple steps that include more primary sources and formative tasks. I share ideas about all these tasks in another article .
Tip: Avoid a “simple story”; these inquiries are not about getting the right answer per se, but instead about getting complex answers. This is possible with an effective choice of primary sources and a good question.
While these ideas don’t completely alleviate the challenge that elementary social studies faces, they are small yet meaningful changes that educators can make to support student learning. They show what can be done, rather than instilling a feeling of helplessness in the face of many challenges that may feel out of your control. And it’s a way to meaningfully advocate for high-quality social studies teaching in elementary schools. After all, education is about creating hope.
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Kid World Citizen
Activities that help young minds go global
Social Studies YouTube Channels for Kids!
January 17, 2019 by kidworldcitizen 1 Comment
With the infinite knowledge on the internet, you can learn almost anything for free. This really was a lifesaver as my kids struggled through their history courses in Mexico. It was their first time to learn about the guerra de castas, the Mayan chiefdoms, and much more. We turned to YouTube. There are plenty of marvelous teacher channels that cover a full range of Social Studies topics: from geography, to economics, government, culture and history. Whether you are a history buff or helping someone with homework, these 20 Social Studies YouTube channels will entertain, teach, and delight you.
Obviously we can’t even make a list of Social Studies YouTube channels without mentioning a couple of the big ones:
- National Geographic
- Smithsonian Channel
- BBC Hands On History
Aside from the famous Social Studies YouTube channels, there are loads of other educators teaching and reviewing history and government and economics and culture! Here are some of our favorites.
Our Favorite Social Studies YouTube Channels
Horrible Histories: main European and US history, told in a funny way that focuses on the gore and vulgarity of history (without being gory or vulgar)
Crash Course videos are 10-15 minutes long, and quickly cover topics from US History to World History (plus literature, science, and more!). This might be my favorite history youtube channel for high school students just because the brothers that produce it are so entertaining. There is also a Crash Course Kids channel that is mainly science.
Laughing Historically : really entertaining videos, and several have lessons in political science. I really enjoyed the electoral college and blue/red states explained! (definitely for teens and above)
Shmoop: I am linking to their US History videos, but they have lots of channels, including one with biographies!
John D Ruddy has lots of World History doodled videos about everything from the world wars, to revolutions, to Irish history. He does speak quite fast, so I would use this as a review to what they’ve already learned (instead of as an introduction).
Mr Betts Class is AMAZING. He takes popular songs and makes parodies related to a theme in US history. They are so funny and silly and educational at the same time.
PBS Presidents Everything you need to know about each President of the US, in just 60 seconds!
Smart Songs : hip-hop/rap style music that inspires learning in History, Social Studies, Geography, and Science.
If you are just interested in World War 1, go to BBC! They have fascinating short videos about different aspects.
History for Kids : has various playlists useful for Social Studies teachers. There are videos on “What Happened this Day in History? “, a lot of great content on Black History , biographies of US presidents , videos for Women’s History Month , and other educational material about leadership and bullying. Here’s a sample:
HistoryTeachers: music videos that cover mainly world history. They aim to make teaching history, fun!
Liberty’s Kids: Cartoon episodes of different scenes in US History from the War for Independence
Brain Bubble TV: very short films (1 minute) about fun facts in US History.
Knowledge Hub: videos about a slew of topics, from Vikings, Henry Ford, Stalin, to the Depression. They scenes are very simply drawn, mixed with actual photos from the era.
Mr. Zoller’s Social Studies Social Studies YouTube Channel : I like that these videos are organized by topics, so it’s easy to find what you are looking for!
Epic History! is another great channel for high schoolers, for both US and World History. So much information packed in their videos.
Hip Hughes has organized his videos into different channels. You will find US History, World History, US Gov’t and Politics, the Constitution, Presidential Elections, the Bill of Rights, and Current Events. Really helpful for studying!
Have I missed any of your favorite Social Studies YouTube channels? What have your kids watched and learned? Leave more recommendations in the comments!
January 26, 2019 at 2:18 pm
Great list! But your missing my favorite one. Extra Credits History!
What do you think? I love to hear from my readers:). Cancel reply
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Martin Luther King Jr. Day classroom resources
Examine Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy with these lesson plans and videos
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Journalism in Action
Civic Engagement and Primary Sources Through Key Moments in History
The Journalism in Action website allows students to investigate the role journalism has played in U.S. history and what it means to have a free press.
Using the Library of Congress' databases, students analyze primary sources ranging from Civil War photographs to broadcasts of the Watergate hearings.
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The Black History That Moves Us: A Resource List for Educators
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Beyond February: Teaching Black History Any Day, Every Day, and All Year Long, K–3 (book)
This guide by Dawnavyn James (who also contributed to this resource list) supports elementary educators in their Black history instruction. Because Black history is often taught during February, this book dives into ways that Black history can be taught throughout the school year.
The book includes examples from the classroom and additional resources for educators to use in their classrooms. There are templates for educators, frequently asked questions about elementary Black history instruction, and strategies for reading Black-history-centered picture books.
Beyond February gives examples of what Black history can look like in social studies, literacy, math, and science instruction and weaves in personal stories of the author’s experience teaching Black history in elementary classrooms.
Black Lives Matter at School, edited by Denisha Jones & Jesse Hagopian (book)
This text chronicles National Black Lives Matter at School , a movement that began in Seattle in 2016, through interviews, essays, poems, lessons, and depictions of campaigns.
The book includes writings from leading voices in anti-racist education like Bettina Love and Wayne Au but also highlights the work of teachers, community and union activists, and, most importantly, the students who have built this national movement through a variety of activities, events, and its annual week of action in February. (This year, the week of action will occur Feb. 5-9.)
Part activist guide, part autobiographical account, it reveals the struggles and challenges to institutional racism in schools by focusing on the movement’s four key demands: 1) ending zero-tolerance discipline practices, 2) mandating Black history and ethnic-studies classes, 3) hiring more Black teachers, and 4) funding counselors, not police officers, for schools.
“ Coded Bias ” (documentary)
This Netflix documentary was created by MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini to expose the racial bias, sexism, and flaws of artificial intelligence, facial-recognition technology, and software algorithms. This documentary encourages educators to more closely analyze the role of technology, specifically generative artificial intelligence, and to advocate ethical and inclusive technology.
Included are stories of algorithmic discrimination related to policing, surveillance, hiring practices, technology, and housing. Each story gives viewers an in-depth exploration of how data and algorithms can reinforce existing inequalities and harm marginalized communities.
Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness by Simone Browne (book)
This book examines the intersection of surveillance and race. Browne delves into the history of surveillance technologies and practices, highlighting how Black bodies have been surveilled, controlled, and commodified throughout history, from the era of slavery to modern surveillance technologies.
Dark Matters informs us of the history, strategy, planning, and technologies behind the creation of the slave ship. When it comes to teaching slavery in the United States, we can no longer shy away from the brutal truth of transporting, branding, owning, selling, and tracking Black bodies across land and sea.
“ High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America ” (docuseries)
This Netflix docuseries centers not just on the richness of African American cuisine but also on the richness of Black history. Food journalist Stephen Satterfield and culinary historian Jessica B. Harris trace the origins of different dishes and highlight the history of Black people, their culture, and a variety of cooking techniques and recipes.
“High on the Hog” can be used by educators and families alike to educate children and themselves about the people and places that cultivate the culture and meals that nourish the souls of Black people.
Through the two seasons of this docuseries, viewers get to hear stories of resistance and agency, meet historical and modern chefs, and learn innovative recipes.
Histematics, a concept created by former Philadelphia public school teacher Akil Parker, is a combination of history and mathematics. Parker offers a unique approach when encouraging pre- and in-service teachers to combine subjects, specifically history and mathematics. Through the concept of Histematics, he has been able to attract and engage the attention of many as his theory of mathematics education continues to evolve.
Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery (online archive)
After the Civil War, finding family members was a priority for formerly enslaved people. Launched in 2017 as a collaboration between Villanova University’s graduate history program and Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, Last Seen is an extensive collection of primary-source ads from across the country placed by family members searching to reconnect with loved ones. The ads reveal the perseverance, hope, and problem-solving of the Black community during and after Reconstruction.
The ads can be searched by location, specific term, and name, and a variety of filters can be used to narrow down results. An interactive global map indicates the locations where ads were placed or appeared. Last Seen also includes several lesson plans for elementary through high school on how to use the primary sources to learn about the domestic slave trade, the lives of the enslaved, resistance, and family separation.
Teaching White Supremacy by Donald Yacovone (book)
This 2022 book chronicles the deliberate creation of a white supremacist narrative that has been pervasive in our country’s educational system, especially in K-12 textbooks and curriculum . Yacovone explores how ideologies of white supremacy have deep roots in education starting with the nation’s inception and continuing to the present day and have become a major part of our collective national identity.
For teachers, this resource provides an argument to teach diverse perspectives and to critique what (and most importantly who) is considered an American. In these divisive times, this book provides important historical context to current attacks on teachers, books, and school boards teaching about race, racism, and white supremacy in the classroom.
Suggested Instagram Pages:
- @iamblacklit : a Black, woman-owned bookstore featuring all-Black authors
- @HBCUprepschool : a Black-owned shop with books and other instructional and learning materials created for children by founder Claudia Walker
- @justice4blackgirls : a Black, women-owned platform to amplify voices of Black girls and women
Explore the Collection
Read more from historians and educators celebrating the history and progression of Black history education. In this special Opinion collection, explore the history of the discipline and find resources for teachers today.
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How far can love travel?
MONROE — Lauren Alexander crossed Valentine’s Day with social studies and came up with a fun project.
In January, the Manor Elementary School kindergarten teacher asked on social media for Valentine’s Day cards and postcards from all 50 states. Her students are learning to find Michigan on the U.S. map.
“The unit we have been studying in social studies is ‘Where are we located on the map?'" Alexander said. “I also wanted to show my (students) just how far love can travel."
Thanks to the cards, her 17 students can now identify Michigan on the map.
“I’m happy to say that my students know where Michigan is located on the map since we received the most cards from Michigan,” she said. “We also have learned that states can be big or little.”
While the class didn’t quite reach the goal of a card from every state, the students and Alexander are pleased with the outcome and even got a few surprises.
Valentine cards and a handful of postcards came from 33 states, including South Carolina, New Mexico and Montana. Three came from other countries.
“So far, we have received 82 cards. I’m sure a few more will trickle in over the week,” Alexander said. “We received cards from Canada, Australia, and even one from Japan is on the way. We were hoping to get a handful of cards, but I am truly shocked and so thankful for how many people took the time to send us a card.”
Some of the cards came with gifts.
“We got a package from my own kindergarten teacher (from 2004) with a very sweet letter and Vikings pencils for each of my students. I was born in Minnesota and didn’t move to Michigan until second grade,” Alexander said. “We also received a package from Canada with different Canada pins for my students and a package from Florida with seashells in it for all of us.”
Each valentine was recorded on the love map.
“My students have absolutely loved receiving these cards and valentines. They get so excited each day when we get to open our mail and put a heart on the map to see where it came from," she said. "My aunt and uncle were on a trip in Australia, so they were able to send us a few cards from there. It was very exciting to get to put a heart on the map from a country that far away."
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Alexander is a second-year teacher at Manor. She’s planning to repeat the Valentine’s Day/social studies project next year.
“It has been a huge hit,” she said. “I would love to continue to do this project in the years to come. It aligns with our curriculum, and it helps the students to see just how far love can travel.”
Cards can still be sent to Manor Elementary School, Lauren Alexander's class, 1731 W. Lorain St., Monroe, MI 48162.
— Contact reporter Suzanne Nolan Wisler at [email protected] .