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When I was in upper elementary school as a student, I remember going through our Social Studies textbook cover to cover (or as much as we could finish by the end of May). This is not the most rigorous way to teach Social Studies content. Students also may lose focus and become bored. Years of teaching and talking with teachers and students have shown me what students need. . .hands-on social studies activities! When it comes to Social Studies instruction today, there are so many tools to make content more engaging and meaningful for your students. Learning how to improve focus and rigor with hands-on Social Studies activities starts with ready-to-go lessons and tools at your fingertips! Getting your students to learn content in an engaging and fun way while improving focus and rigor starts with Thinktivity™! This unique approach to teaching where students earn robot points as they complete a variety of comprehension tasks.

What is Thinktivity™?

First, your students read passages over a Social Studies topic multiple times in order to answer questions related to the tasks. As students complete the six tasks, they earn a robot part to color and put together at the end! Bring out the colored pencils, markers, or crayons to add some creativity and art to the academic rigor of Thinktivity™. Of course, differentiating lessons is not just about giving different material to students. It's about having a variety of tasks. That's why Thinktivity™ helps students focus while maintaining rigor. There are six different tasks that teach the content and help students comprehend reading while having fun! Students participate in fill in the blank, vocabulary, written responses, true or false, multiple choice, and hidden message/word search. To begin, here are the six tasks your students experience to bring rigor to their Social Studies lessons!

Fill in the Blank

First, students receive a reading passage with a word bank and fill in the blanks within the reading passage. I love these close reading activities because students start to recognize the content specific words and have to read carefully to put them in the passage. This activity is engaging and brings rigor to the Social Studies classroom!

Vocabulary and Context Clues

For those unfamiliar words in the reading passage, it’s time for the vocabulary task!
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Next, students find four unfamiliar words and draw a picture and include the definition of the word. Overall, that visual representation helps students remember the new words in context. Model this for your student by drawing your own images!

Written Response

When it comes to academic rigor, written response takes the cake! Next, students have a choice with the third task between three writing prompts related to the reading passage. These are higher level, open ended response questions to improve focus and also rigor.

True or False

This is not your average true or false! Overall, this type of true or false activity improves focus with hands-on learning in Social Studies. First, students color the gears that correspond with the true questions and add up the total number. That total of the true gears in the end earns them a robot part! They’re getting closer to completing their robot with this Thinktivity™ activity for Social Studies.

Multiple Choice

Next, multiple choice questions contain various question stem types and refer to the passages to help students improve comprehension. This rigorous task also earns a robot part! Overall, these comprehension questions help students learn content and have fun!

Hidden Message

Finally, task six is a student favorite. Your students find all the words from the word search list. These are content related words. In the end, the words not crossed out reveal a hidden message! This special spin on a traditional word search is what makes Thinktivity™ activities so much fun, engaging, and a way to improve focus with hands-on learning!

Watch this Thinktivity VIDEO to see what a Thinktivity is all about!

Thinktivity™ Lessons

No matter what Social Studies content you are teaching this year, Thinktivity™ activities have it covered with hands-on learnings. Bring out the six tasks and also robot building for the following Social Studies units:
  • Louisiana Purchase
  • Lewis & Clark
  • Transcontinental Railroad
  • Oregon Trail
  • French and Indian War
  • Plymouth and Mayflower
  • Jamestown Settlement
  • 13 Colonies
  • Declaration of Independence
  • Boston Massacre
  • Patriots and Loyalists
  • Sons of Liberty
  • Intolerable Acts
  • Revolutionary War Battles
  • Revolutionary War Causes
  • Branches of Government
  • Bill of Rights
  • Boston Tea Party
  • Founding Fathers
  • Articles of Confederation
  • Constitutional Convention
  • U.S. Constitution
  • Articles of the Constitution

  • How exciting to provide academic rigor as well as engaging hands-on lessons for your upper elementary Social Studies students!

    How to Use Thinktivity™ lessons

    There are so many ways to use Thinktivity™ in your classroom. First, you can introduce a unit with Thinktivity™ lessons and topics. Next, Thinktivity™ works to provide focus and rigor with hands-on independent learning. Finally, Thinktivity™ can be used a review or practice in stations or small group rotations.
    Of course, each Thinktivity™ lesson gives you everything you need to introduce your students to rigorous, engaging, hands-on social studies learning!
  • Reading Passage
  • 6 Tasks
  • Student Directions
  • Answer Key
  • Directions
  • Robot Parts to Assemble (Small or Large)
  • Early Finisher or Extension Activity (summarize passage)
  • Certificate of Completion
  • Overall, your students improve focus and rigor with hands-on Social Studies activities with Thinktivity™! Even if you do not have a lot of tech in your classroom, Thinktivity™ is easy to use! First, print off the materials for your chosen unit. Finally, grab some scissors, coloring supplies, and tape or glue, and you're ready to go. Now that you know how Thinktivity™ can improve focus and rigor with hands-on social studies activities in your classroom, review the units and lessons to see how they can fit into your curriculum! How will you use Thinktivity™ in your Social Studies classroom?

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