Clay has been used for many things throughout history, including writing surfaces, money, cooking vessels, and building materials. Archaeologists use ceramics as a tool for dating cultures, which can be impactful to note in the social studies classroom. Teaching the evolution of tiles, ceramics, and clay throughout various cultures can inform students about how civilizations utilized these materials and advanced throughout history.
In the primary grades, maps are useful tools to help the young reader put stories into perspective and develop a sense of place. Place and space are important in describing the setting of a book. Sometimes the author may not include a map, but the words convey a mental image that can easily be translated into a map—and even the illustrations could be used to teach geographic skills.
February is the month that many teachers typically introduce information about the sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln. From his lessons on money to his famous Gettysburg Address and the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln is heralded as a great American hero. The question to consider is “How can one know the man who is so overwhelmingly portrayed by iconography (monuments and memorials)?”
Throughout the years, teachers have used music in instruction, such as the ABC song, to teach the alphabet, and “The Hokey Pokey,” to teach body parts and directions. As one of Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence areas, music is a great tool to use to teach social studies. The pattern and rhythm of songs encourage memory, movement, and creativity with students. Music is a part of children's daily life and therefore a connection to real-world learning.
Bells end and begin our classes. In the past, teachers rang hand-held bells to start the school day. The Liberty Bell may be the icon that students know from history, but there are many ways to use bells in the teaching of social studies. Explore with your students how the sound of bells is present in our daily life and in the past.