Today’s quick tip is in honor of the social studies and history teachers out there. While I have only blogged a bit about this area of education, it is actually my favorite to teach. I loved using this technique in my classroom when looking at a historical figure or event in more detail. This is a fabulous activity for any grade K-8 classroom with a tad bit of adjustment based on the age.
Did you know that April 13 is Thomas Jefferson’s birthday? In honor of the third president of the United States, we will be shaping our activity around his life. Here is what you do:
1. Start by researching a historical figure/event. For Thomas Jefferson, I went to the White House home page. Choose five significant details that you want students to know about the figure or event.
3. Have students work either alone or in pairs. Have students read each detail and search the classroom/school/playground (depending on how you can best supervise) for items that will represent that detail. Have students explain in writing why that object represents that detail. For example, for the detail about drafting the Declaration of Independence, a student might choose a pencil. He/she should explain why the pencil represents drafting the Declaration of Independence to them.
4. Reconvene the class after everyone has completed the activity. Have students place all of the objects for each detail in groups in the classroom. There are some wonderful creative display opportunities for these items. Have the items spark classroom discussion about why objects were selected.
5. You may follow up by having students do their own research outside of the classroom and have them think of objects to represent the details they learn!
So now that you have read about it, why do this activity? Most children will forget the facts that we teach them about history, unless we can build a context aroundthem. Meaningful context is built by making connections to students’ lives. By choosing familiar items and connecting them to history, they are building a 1:1 correspondence between something they know and something you want them to know.
So there you have it…simple, no supplies outside of paper, pencil and your classroom needed and students will love it! I would love to hear which historical figures/events you try this with! How did it work for you?