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Social Studies Lesson Plans - Free Sites for Teachers
Social Studies Lesson Plans
20 years ago teachers did not have the resources that are available today. The ability to search the Internet in a matter of seconds and come up with thousands of helpful pages relating to your search is nearly magical.
One thing remains the same, though. Teachers don't have a lot of time. So, while it may be quick to search the Internet for all of that information, the problem still stands that a teacher normally does not have time to sift through the information and turn it into usable bites. Maybe a better term would be bytes. A teacher, in the course of a normal day, will be lucky to get her papers graded and make notes on the next day's lesson.
The websites that follow have been checked out. Notes have been made on the positive aspects of the site as well as any negatives, and a rating of one to five stars (* * * * * ) has been given. Hopefully in this way the exact information needed will be available easily.
A-Z Teacher Stuff
A-Z Teacher Stuff is a huge, user friendly website with resources for every type of classroom activity. It includes an excellent collection of social studies lesson plans. The site has printable and click-able link resources for teachers to use at every grade level from preschool through twelfth grades. There are numerous subjects at each level, all with lesson objectives, notes, and vocabulary. Many have printable worksheets as well.
Subjects covered are: social diversity, economics, civics and government, family and self, history, and geography. The website is very easy to navigate and lesson plans are teacher created. There are printer friendly pages as well, so you can print clean pages with no ads. * * * * *
The Teacher's Corner
The Teacher's Corner has not only lesson plans but ideas for bulletin boards, printable worksheets, and a host of other things that will push the classroom into social studies overdrive! Combat burnout among teacher and student with projects like making chicken mummies, family glyphs, and mock elections. Hands on activities creative enough to reach even the most reluctant student. Message boards are an encouragement as well as an idea file.
This Lesson Plan site also gets five stars. * * * * *
Using A Smart Board as a Teaching Tool
The Teacher's Guide
The Teacher's Guide is not as large as the previous sites but, none-the-less, has some very good plans for all ages. They are laid out in an organized manner so it is easy to find what you are looking for. With topics like anthropology, history, and multicultural education there is no lack of good material. The problem with this site lies in many broken links. Out of the 10 links I tried, half were not working, obviously there needs to be an update. Because of this I am only giving it 2 stars. * *
Fun Social Studies
This site is cool. The homepage changes with the "present topic". There are numerous links within that topic to help teachers create their own unit study, tailored completely to their classroom needs. Not only are there lesson plans, but links to homework helps, virtual tours, easy projects and much more. Each of these resources adds creativity to the lesson so that kids get excited about learning, learn more rapidly and remember more of what they have learned.
An excellent example of this is the lesson, A Summer's Day. This plan is for grades 4-8 and the students are given a descriptive paragraph to read. It is up to them to use clues to come up with where the setting is and eventually the latitude and longitude. Getting students to think creatively is very well done in this module!
Forums are also included on this site. Most of the links worked, I did, however find a few that did not so I am giving this site a 4. * * * *
A Patchwork of African American Life
AT&T has put together an excellent resource for teaching about Black History. Start out with the hotlist to find the exact facet of Black History that you want to concentrate on.
Then test your knowledge with an interactive treasure hunt. Use the sampling link to understand African American culture on a deeper level, and finally have your students study about integration in the early 1960s. The links are working, the resources are incredible. This site gets five stars. * * * * *
Enchanted Learning is a colorful website that you can use for free or get more information by subscribing at a cost of $20.00 a year.
The lesson plans and activities are geared more toward younger children, preschool and early elementary, however they are easy to follow and come with plenty of printable maps, and illustrations, as well as other resources. This is an excellent site for incorporating unusual things into your study. For example, on the page about Japan incorporate Haiku, Japanese writing, making a JAPANESE KOKESHI DOLL, a small zen garden, and origami. All of these activities help students experience the culture and understand the people more. It gives substance to the lesson.
This site is great, but since the resources are limited unless you are a subscriber I give it four stars. * * * *
This is a fascinating plan from NationMaster. In it Senior High students will study countries considered to harbor terrorist group. They will then study the geography, the social issues, and other information about the countries, and make decisions about the threat of the country based on the intelligence they have gathered.
This is an exciting and well thought out study that helps students deal with their fears, thoughts, and ideas about terrorism in our world today and forces them to respond to cultural diversity in a new way. Class time on this is approximately two hours but could be increased with added activities. I give this study five stars. * * * * *
The Illinois State Museum
Lots of resources here! Over forty social studies lesson plans to help teach everything from land survey to an interview with a Native American teenager. This is also a jumping off place for unit studies with projects like making trade beads from polymer clay.
Most of the lessons deal with pioneers and prairie life, including the Native Americans of the prairies. These lesson plans are in pdf. format and will need to be downloaded and printed out. Because it is so limited in scope it gets three stars. * * *
Any Country Unit Study
This is a great site. You will need to start about six weeks before you plan on doing the actual study to allow time to gather materials. This particular study is all inclusive, so would be great for the homeschool, or elementary classroom. While doing this unit your students will learn, not only about the country being studied, but also about the food, the national holidays, math practice in dealing with the currency and language arts.
One of the ideas is to make a map of the country using cookie dough. This unit covers all learning styles with charm and imagination. * * * * *
The Rain Forest
This unit will require extensive use of a computer for the students and so would be excellent for schools that have a computer lab, or homeschools.
There are numerous electronic field trips, assignments that require map study, interaction with scientists and a basic introduction to economics included in this study as well as books to read, computer programs to utilize during the study, and art projects. Excellent literature is suggested, and this study could easily be made more in depth with the addition of more literature. * * * * *
Printables and Other Resources on the Web
In addition to lesson plans themselves, there are numerous sites with printable materials for all grade levels to add a deeper level to the learning process. Find printable maps, activities, crafts and much more all over the Internet. Something as simple as making a bookmark can help students remember the information they have studied.
Many different activities help the student "get it". The more you engage each function of the mind in the lesson the better chance you have of a class of avid learners. Linked below are numerous sites with lesson plans, print-ables and ideas to ensure a creative learning experience. A student that has used two rocks to grind cornmeal will not easily forget that early man worked hard to feed himself. Utilize these ideas and add your own to them to create a passion for learning in your classroom.
Especially at the elementary level firing the imagination is imperative to create a study that is more than just memorization and rote. Allow the students to get to know the cultures you are studying through the foods, the festivals, the clothing, and even the work that they do. Skits, stories, poetry, art and illustration, and historic literature from the culture are all great ways to help children identify with the people they are learning about. Add a visit to the classroom from someone from the culture and you have an excellent start on creating an environment that fosters deep learning.
Since you can't always get someone into your classroom from the culture you are studying consider pen pal exchanges to help your students to get the most from social studies. There are numerous links to international pen pal exchanges, and others who are willing to write to students about who they are and what they do.
Sites For Free Social Studies Lesson Plans
- A to Z Teacher Stuff: Lesson Plans: Social Studies
Numerous links to social studies lesson plans for the home-school or traditional teacher. Very user friendly with a good variety of subjects make this site one of my top picks.
- The Teacher's Corner
Social Studies Lesson Plans and Teacher Activities that will get your class interested in many types of social studies activities. Printable pages, a chat board, and other items make this site one of the best sites on the web.
- The Teacher's Guide
Numerous links to a variety of lesson plans in subjects across the social studies curriculum. Encompasses geography, history, multicultural studies, civics, and much, much more. Has a variety of links to other helpful resources in the sidebar.
- NationMaster - Lesson Plans: Understanding Terrorism
High school students will learn about the geography of an area, the culture,and other issues and then make decisions about the potential threat of that country based on their own intelligence gathering activities.
- Online Lesson Plans--Illinois State Museum
Numerous lesson plans developed for teachers by the Illinois State Museum. Use this site to find out about the settling of the prairie states, the Native Americans that lived there, and other Midwestern subjects
- LITTLE EXPLORERS by Enchanted Learning Software
Many different links to preschool and young elementary resources for coming up with a social studies unit study or lesson plan. Arts and crafts, projects, songs, and printables are to be found here.
- Country Unit
Create a unit study around any country with this lesson plan from Linda Evans. You will need to begin preparing six weeks ahead to have all the materials ready. Resources, recipes included.
- Cyber Rainforest
In this study students have the opportunity to learn about the rain-forest and become more computer literate utilizing many links and electronic field trips to explore the flora, fauna, and geography of the rainforest and learn map skills.
Know your kids! You are the best judge of what will excite them and create the environment they need for learning. Use the lesson plans your way, changing them to make them into what you need them to be. Use your imagination to take kids back in history, or make your classroom an oasis on a desert, or any number of other things that will help make what the students are reading alive to them.
Utilize electronic field trips, and virtual tours when you can't take a real field trip. Many towns have real time cameras set up at points of interest, search for them and add them to your classroom.
Computers have made the globe even smaller and more easily explored. Network with teachers online for encouragement and ideas!