When it comes to planning a Social Studies curriculum, you’re certainly looking to the standards. However, there’s so much more to think about! When you think about how to create the perfect Social Studies unit plan, you’ll want hands-on activities, cooperative learning, technology integration, and more! Let’s get started creating the perfect Social Studies unit plan with these essential elements!
How to Create the Perfect Social Studies Unit Plan
The HookFirst, start with an attention getter or hook! Front-loading with a hook or anticipatory set is so important. If your introduction to the material isn’t engaging, your kids aren’t going to listen! One great way to hook your learners is with an escape room! An escape room is a series of puzzles for students to solve. This is all while learning engaging content. For example, in the branches of government escape room, your students learn and decode interesting facts about the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches of government. Codes include ciphers, Morse code, cryptograms and a final 4 digit code based on the clues. Overall, escape rooms can be used as a hook even before students learn the content. Your students are engaged and ready to learn more!
Hands-On ActivitiesAnother perfect part of a Social Studies unit is hands-on activities. Of course, hands-on activities are important in engaging your learners’ five senses. Thinktivity™ activities get your students excited to learn with hands-on, engaging activities in your perfect Social Studies activities. What is Thinktivity™? Thinktivity™ is a reading comprehension activity designed with engagement in mind. First, your students read the passage multiple times searching for evidence for each of the tasks. Next, students receive robot parts as they complete each task. Then, they’ll work together or independently to build or color their robot. Tasks include:
UNIQUE Amazon Products for the classroom
Primary Source or Political CartoonNot everything in a perfect Social Studies unit has to be an activity. Include a primary source like a historical photograph, journal entry, political cartoon, or document. Primary sources are not only nonfiction pieces that fit into the curriculum, they also give your students a glimpse into the political culture and climate of the time. Overall, political cartoons of any ideology provide a basis for discussion in your Social Studies unit!
Add MovementEvery perfect Social Studies unit should have some element of movement. Of course, students learn better when their minds (and bodies) are actively engaged! Movement is so important to keep students on-task and ready to learn! One way to add movement to your perfect Social Studies unit is with a scavenger hunt! The Founding Fathers Scavenger Hunt includes 14 Ingredient Cards for your students to piece together. In the end, the cards create a recipe to win the great cake bake-off! Each card includes a short reading passage about the topic, a multiple-choice question, and a clue for which card they should go to next. This scavenger hunt is also an excellent ingredient for a perfect Social Studies Unit plan!
Smaller Tasks and PassagesInstead of assigning long reading passages in your perfect Social Studies unit plan, try smaller tasks. To begin, these shorter passages keep students engaged while allowing for close reading and focusing on reading skills and standards. Try the Founding Fathers Comprehension Challenge. Your students will learn about the Founding Fathers, Washington, John Adams, Hamilton, Sam Adams, John Jay, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson. Rise up to the challenge with short, attainable reading tasks!
Reading Response or Writing ReflectionAn integral part of your perfect Social Studies unit plan is time for reflection. Focus on particular skills or standards in nonfiction reading or have open reflection for your students to journal. Use these free graphic organizers to guide nonfiction response and focus on the following skills:
Incorporate Different Points of ViewAdd a different perspective to your perfect Social Studies unit plan! Since much of American History is focused on the colonists or Americans’ point of view, have your students read about the Patriots and Loyalists in a Close Reading activity with six tasks for your learners! This lesson includes:
Include artistic elements for the visual learners and let creativity flow! One simply art assignment to add to your perfect Social Studies unit plan is color by number. The Lewis and Clark color by number activity incorporates text marking, reading, and art to learn about Lewis and Clark, Thomas Jefferson, Sacagawea, and Westward Expansion. Activities include a “before reading” anticipation guide, reading passage about Lewis and Clark, comprehension questions, text marking, picture to color, and an “after reading” anticipation guide.