Sunday, February 9, 2014

Quick and Easy Social Studies Ideas

I am writing a quick post today to share two of my recent favorite "activities" for Social Studies that are quick and easy to implement.

I don't know about your Social Studies standards, but we have what feels like a hundred different people to learn about and remember. Geesh, sometimes I even get some of the people mixed up in my head! When we study a new person that is important to remember, we make a quick interactive organizer "head."

I type out the name of the person most of the time. However, I keep a set of "heads" ready to go in case we need one on the fly. For the heads, we write 3-4 sentences describing the person and why they are important to that period of time. Then the students draw some type of image to help them remember the person. And when they are studying, they can quickly glance at the name and the image and hopefully recall who the person is. Here are some more examples:

Click here to download the "head" organizer I used. (Image from

The next activity is one commonly used in reading: Quick Writes. I love to use this activity when I am teaching a history topic that is particularly emotional or can evoke mixed reactions in the students. For this particular one, we were discussing The Great Depression. I was reading parts of this book, and stopping periodically to ask questions.

The students were instructed to quickly write their answer or their opinion. Then, we should share with a partner or share a few with the whole group. Here are some of the questions I asked with this book/topic: Why do you think some referred to the day the stock market crashed as Black Tuesday? After reading about people stealing to feed their family, I asked the students to write their opinion about this and whether they would steal to feed their family, if needed.

Here are some examples:

 As you can see, I only asked 5 questions and we really got into some deep discussions after these. I can't wait to see what we do with this activity when we study World War II in the upcoming weeks.

Do you have any quick and easy "go-to" activities for Social Studies?


  1. Thank you for sharing! I am comparing Jackie Robinson and Wilma Rudolph and will use these with my kids!

  2. We are starting WWII in our classroom tomorrow! I love the heads. I just might use this idea for the big names of WWII. Thanks!
    Creating Lifelong Learners

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  4. Thanks for this idea! I have about a month and a half left of school and teach both 4th and 5th grades. Like you said, it seems like we have so many historical people and events to teach! California SS standards for 4th grade start with Native Californians and end with present day! I plan to have students work in groups to become experts on the events in the remaining chapters of the textbook. The organizer heads will really help students to keep track of their notes.


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