Possible Social Studies Activities

In our Social Studies class last semester, our teacher often led us through activities that we could apply in our own practice. I’ve included a few of those ideas below.

  • “I am from” poetry: This activity is a great way to get students thinking about the environment, people, and culture that contributes to their identity. 
  • Examining traces: For this activity Wanda brought in a few different historical artifacts gathered from flea markets. After arranging us in groups to discuss and attempt to identity the object’s use, she handed out a worksheet that asked us to compare the object’s historical use to how we use the contemporary equivalent. This was a really fun hands on way to start thinking about specific time periods (i.e. studying ration cards to talk about the war, examining old hair curlers to think about pre-electric tools, etc). The image for this post features “Antique Hot Iron Hair Curlers” photographed by Thomas Quine.
  • Challenging the context of maps: We each brought in an object with a map on it (tea pot, bell, pendant, ornament, etc). Wanda also brought in some alternative maps (Australian “upside down” map, map centring Asia, etc) and prompted a discussion about politics and power (why are we used to some countries looking bigger (sometimes inaccurately), or more central?).
  • Using music to study historic events: For this activity our teacher played a song for us and then asked us to try to guess at or identify the historical context of the song.  For this activity, she showed the following music video for Gordon Lightfoot’s song about the 1967 Detroit riot.

These are only a few activities that I wanted to make sure I jotted down in case I wanted to try them in a future class. Please feel free share any suggestions you may have for Social Studies activities in the comment section below.


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