Hi everyone! My name is Stephanie and I am a fifth grade teacher who blogs over at Teaching in Room 6. I am here today to talk to you about something I just LOVE teaching in my room.
Social studies is my absolute favorite subject to teach. Telling stories from the past, and finding connections to the present and future, is such a great way to reach the students and help to create scholars. One way that I have found to effectively reach the kids in my room when it comes to social studies is through picture books. Using text with a historical background that is written at my students' reading level is perfect for grabbing (and holding) their interest. So I thought I would bring you 5 different books that I have found successful in my classroom for teaching social studies concepts.
This is a great myth that tells about how the arrival of horses in North America (when European settlers came) impacted the tribes living here. While this is a myth (and not nonfiction) it still offers a great glimpse into how Native American tribes lived, their culture, and how myths played a central role in storytelling. It also lends itself to a great discussion about how horses changed the way Native American peoples, the Sioux in particular, lived.
When I teach the students about the original 13 Colonies, and the settlers who came from England to establish the new lands, I love using Sarah Morton's Day by Kate Waters. It is a photo-journal written in first person point of view, that shows a typical day in the life of a Plymouth Colony girl. Reading through this book, the students are able to see what hard work it was to settle these new lands in the early 1600s....and realize that even the kids had to work! (There are two other companion books, Samuel Eaton's Day and Tapenum's Day that show life through the eyes of a Pilgrim boy and a Native American living at the time.) I then like to have my students create their own "photo-journal" from the point of view of a Pilgrim boy or girl living around the same time. Using details from the text, as well as our social studies books and other resources, the students follow the same pattern as the Sarah Morton text and describe life from sun up to sunset.
Boston Tea Party: Graphic Novel by Matt Doeden
Using this graphic novel, which tells the basic story of the events causing and leading up to the famous Boston Tea Party, is a great way to hook my reluctant historians. Seeing the true details of the event come to life with comic book drawings and speech bubbles is enough to make each of my kids eager to learn more about this piece of history. I then am able to transfer that curiosity into learning about the various battles of the revolution and the students creating their own comics about the historical events.
Ok...I know I already wrote one suggested book about the American Revolution, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE this time period. There are so many different "American Heroes" that came out of this time, that I usually do my biography unit in conjunction with this social studies topic. A nice book to use is this one about Betsy Ross. It is a very accessible book for all students to read, contains a lot of history, and even addresses some historical myths surrounding this prominent lady. Using this book, we are able to see just what life was like for Besty growing up, as well as delve into the genre of biography. From here, I am able to branch off and do many different projects surrounding Mrs. Ross. Two of my favorites are creating our own American flags and biography reports of other notable people during this time period.
This is a nonfiction book with lots of little tidbits about what it was like to travel west along the various trails that cropped up after the Louisiana Purchase. There is a great deal of information included in this book, all written at a level that the students can understand. I love using this one as we are discussing various parts of the Westward Expansion movement. It is useful for the entire unit!
So there you have it. A few books that you can use to enhance your social studies curriculum. What books have you used that you have found particularly useful in teaching social studies standards?