Social Studies October
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October social studies is such a blast. During this month, we get into some culture, geography, Civics, and economics. Let’s jump in and see what we cover in the month of October!
For geography, we thought it would be interesting to learn about a place in Egypt called the 6th of October City. Mostly because the name of the city is so intriguing. We also used this lesson to put a unique spin on the “me on the map” activity instead of using our own neighborhoods. We wanted to show children that that concept can look different across the globe.
For economics, we discovered that currency looks different all over the world. One morning we decided to print out different kinds of currency for the children to explore. They were immediately engaged and wanted to know all about the places that got to have cool things (such as animals) on their money. One child even recognized the queen of England because her mom watched the crown on Netflix!
Students were even allowed to create their own currency after discussing the concept that countries tend to put things that are important to them on their currency. So, they worked in groups to create their own currency system!
For civics, we decided to discuss the roles that the president of the United States has. We discussed all of the roles with the students and asked them to weigh in. The students were amazed to find out that the president had so many jobs!
October is Italian heritage month period we always take some time to learn about the first immigrants that came to the United States. We also take time to discuss how those people were treated when they first came. From there, we always love to learn about notable people in events! We learned about the inventor of the coffee maker, the Jacuzzi, and most fascinating- the real inventor of the telephone people! Most people think that the inventor of the telephone is Alexander Graham Bell but in actuality, it was an Italian immigrant by the name of Antonio Meucci. Congress recognized him as the actual inventor of the telephone in 2002.
October can be soooo much more than a 2-week unit on pumpkins! We live in a fascinating world…show that world to children!
Social Studies for January
Happy New Year! Whatever year that we are celebrating, we wish you success and successful social studies lessons! We are excited to share our with you! First up: Janus.
We got curious about the way that the months are named. Why? Who decided that January would be the name for the first month of the year? We learned about Janus, the Roman god of transitions. He’s interesting because he has two heads! As we learning all about him, we came upon lots of images of ancient Rome and the Colosseum. We ended up creating a STEM challenge around the building of the Colosseum because our students were so intrigued. Our students were given the chance to name their very own month! This activity is SO much fun because students will get to decide on the number of days in their week, the holidays, and anything else that they’d like to tweak! Check out some of the scenes from our Janus study!
We also learn about Alfred Nobel. Why? Because we STAY telling children that someone won the Nobel Peace Prize as if that means anything to them. The story of Nobel is quite fascinating. Long story short, Nobel was a chemist. He invented dynamite. People started using dynamite to, well, kill people. Other people didn’t like him very much because of it- even naming him the “Merchant of Death.” It was reported that he was working in his lab when an explosion happened that killed his brother. The newspapers got the story wrong and printed that HE was the one who died. So, he was able to read what the world would say about him after he died….and it wasn’t good! Many people that this was the catalyst for the Nobel Peace prize- because he wanted to change the legacy that he’d be known for. There’s no way to prove this, but it’s fascinating nonetheless!
We also turned this experience into a STEM project- we studied the sociology behind awards: why are tangible reminders of our awards so critical to us? The students came up with lots of ideas that all led to the fact that when we see an award, it reminds us that we did something great. Since we all had that understanding, we decided to engineer displays for the Nobel Peace Prize! I printed images of the Nobel prize and taped them to the circular attribute blocks. Then, they were given straws and tape and were told to work in teams to construct a holder!
Jumping into some economics…we thought it would be fun to learn about seasonal jobs! So many seasonal jobs affect the way people live! We loved discussing this concept with our students and hearing their connections.
We rounded out the month with some geography. We love seeing the look on our students’ faces when they realized that some people are experiencing warm weather while we are experiencing winter! What we were really after here was giving our students access to a global concept of how people live. We wanted them to realize that not everyone is doing exactly what they are doing.
Social Studies for February
We, LaNesha Tabb and Naomi O’Brien, are SUPER excited that we decided to team up and work on these units together! Our January Unit is complete and ready to purchase now. We recently completed our February Unit and wanted show you guys what you have to look forward to with this resource.
It is our overall goal with these units to teach young students about different cultures, people, parts of the world, and about our country. For us, this is more about representation than anything else. Teaching “multicultural” lessons or reading “diverse books” isn’t going to be enough to truly give children an antiracist education. Of course it won’t! But, for students (especially primary students) normalizing the study of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) is a great place to start. For years, children have been exposed to Washington, Lincoln, Columbus, Bell, Earhart, etc… and that’s it! We have to disrupt that.
It is always a good idea to review the bigger ideas in social studies. Especially in February, where you are really getting back into it. We pull out these posters and remind students about each topic.
Social Studies for September
September….oh, September! The fun that we have during this month is unmatched (until next month, haha!) Let’s get into it. First: culture. We recognize Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month. This month is such a powerful time! As always, we discover the history/immigration events that have occurred, and then we study notable figures! We lean heavily on books, videos, and our families that come in to share. During this time, we learn about the fascinating life of Alicia Alonso, a Cuban-American prima ballerina. Her amazing stories leave our students in awe every time. We also learn about the inventor of the ballpoint pin (Lazlo) and an early version of the color television (Camerena). There are so many great conversations and questions that come out of studying culture. Perspectives are widened empathy is gained.
For geography, we learn all about Ferdinand Magellan. We love getting the children on the map to show them the journey that he took. It automatically gives students the opportunity and context to discuss oceans and continents!
In economics, we focused on the concept of spending vs. saving. We talked about money, and how people might choose to save it or spend it- and the consequences of those choices. It was a nice reminder for the adults in the room as well!
Lastly, we learned about the history of sugar skulls. We were so fortunate to have had a staff member talk to us about this, as this was something that was a part of her culture. They explained that for some people, seeing sugar skulls being appropriated was really frustrating and upsetting for them. They told us about how they honor their dead relatives in this way, and they take it seriously. Lastly, we were told that seeing the sugar skulls as a scary Halloween costume was something that they appreciated. After hearing all of this, we thought it would be a great time to honor the historical value of sugar skulls. We read lots of books and gained an understanding. When our students learned about them, they were fascinated with the fact that different cultures have varied ways of dealing with death. They enjoyed learning about how the dead were celebrated with the sugar skulls. It was only after this that they engaged in an experience with a sugar skull. For a lot of classrooms, this part is skipped over…and they go straight to the “pretty craft.” That’s not what we wanted to do because when it comes to learning about culture…people… we should approach these topics with care and appreciation. As students were having an experience with creating a sugar skull, their conversations were so thoughtful. One child declared that he was going to be using orange and blue because his uncle had passed away and his uncle loved the Denver Broncos. It was a powerful experience…and it was so much more than “cute and fun.”
Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed taking a peek at the topics we’ve covered in September!
Social Studies for April
What do we cover in April? TONS! This month’s topics are so intriguing, all of our students couldn’t wait for social studies time. We are always looking for ways to incorporate culture. While we strive to include culture all year long, we do recognize cultural months that are nationally recognized. April is Arab American Heritage Month.
During this month, we are reading books, watching videos, and inviting families to share their heritage. We learn about the “Magician of the Heart,” Dr. DeBakey who operated on thousands of patients and saved their lives! We learn about the inventor of the waffle cone and teacher that got to go to space, and so much more!
We wanted to get some economics in, so we explored the concept of importing and exporting. We talk about how we trade and barter with other countries to get what we need. There’s no reason why little kids aren’t able to grasp what you show them! We even did a fun activity where we looked at the tags on our shirts to see where they’d been imported from.
We always cover Earth Day, but we thought it might be interesting to discover the history of Earth Day. We discovered the person that created it, Gaylord Nelson, and discussed how it became something that is recognized worldwide. We went on an Earth Day hunt with our Reduce, Reuse, Recycle “scopes” and had to decide if what we were looking at could be reduced, reused, or recycled.
Lastly, we decided to get some geography in by studying the effects of precipitation on human life.
What do you cover in April social studies?