Social Studies Teaching Tips

10 Fun Election Activity Ideas

Here are some additional ideas for election activities. We tend to talk about the more unique ideas.
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  1. Write a Help Wanted Ad for President.
  2. Examine Campaign Slogans.
  3. Create a Candidates Views on Issues Checklist.
  4. Mock Voter Registration/Election.
  5. Run a complete mock campaign.
  6. Write the perfect President's Resume.
  7. Create Political Cartoons on Issues.
  8. Examine current polls and how polls change.
  9. Determine the biggest 3 issues to your class.
  10. Campaign Ad Critiques.

China Lesson Plan Ideas

Here are some great ways to incorporate China in your class.
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1. Make origami animals that represent students´ personalities.
2. Write names using calligraphy.
3. Have a debate on censorship.
4. Construct a “Great Wall”.
5. Make cultural statues.
6. Create a dancing dragon.
7. Make Chinese lanterns.
8. Make homework scrolls.
9. Compare and contrast life in China.
10. Send letters to Chinese pen pals.

Teaching Idea

The Class Crier
George, Junior High School Teacher: Bronx, NY

"Role play what it was like during colonial times when technology did not exist as a means of communicating the news. Assign a student who serves as the Class Crier" who will announce special items, the news, and class or group assignments. A bell can be used to make the announcements to illustrate the mechanisms used in days of old to inform the public of news. Each announcement can be written on a large piece of paper to be posted on a bulletin board for all to read. Students can discuss the implications of such mechanisms and compare to how we receive present day news."

Teaching Idea

"Race Around the World"
Margaret Henies, Caldwick Middle School: Ohio

"Pull down a large World Map and have students come up to locate countries, cities, bodies of water, etc. You can make this into a team competition by having students race to locate places that you call out."

Teaching Idea

Time Lines are Great Fun !
Lyle, 8th Grade Teacher: Austin, TX

"Get students to develop a timeline that shows several events that affected the history of their home state. Have them add the arrivals of different cultural groups including women and minorities who contributed to build the state. Display the time line in the classroom and use it to teach each important event according to when it happened. You can use it to assign topics that students can write about, etc. Students can also illustrate each event to make it colorful and stimulating."

Teaching Idea

Autobiography as a Primary Source
Jan, 5th Grade Teacher: Malone, NY

"Pick an autobiography for students to read. Ask students what they learned about the author, experiences, life events, locations, etc. Instruct them to verify what they read by consulting with resources: textbooks, library materials, Internet search, etc. Ask them to defend the authenticity of the autobiographical information that was presented in the book. Ask them how much was fact and how much was not? An assignment can be that the students write their own factual autobiography."

Teaching Idea

"Race Around the World"
Margret Henies, Caldwick Middle School: Ohio

"Pull down a large World Map and have students come up to locate countries, cities, bodies of water, etc. You can make this into a team competition by having students race to locate places that you call out."

Teaching Idea

"How do I get home?"
Karla, Elementary Teacher

"A fun way to for students to learn geography is to have students plot a course for a given location back to their home. I start this activity with an introductory set. I have students individually plot a course from our school to their homes. Next, I have them plot a course from a major county landmark to their homes. Local shopping centers seem to work well.

After students grasp the general concept, I place them in cooperative groups and have them plot courses to school from other neighboring states. By the end of the year, I have students plotting courses from different countries to our school. This activity really helps them with their map skills."

Teaching Idea

"How a bill becomes a law."
Nancy, 6th Grade Teacher

"This is a great activity for demonstrating our government at work. It can be adapted to a variety of grade levels.

I start this activity by having students write a brief essay on why they should be elected the class President. After reviewing the essay with my colleagues, I nominate five candidates. The class then holds a secret ballot election. The student with the greatest number of votes is elected president. The remaining four candidates become the leaders of groups.

Group one proposes legislation. Group two decides the pros and cons of the bill and the issues that need further debate. Group three represents the Senate. Group Four represents the House of Representatives. Group three and four debate the issues identified by group 2.

All students then vote for or against the bill. If the bill fails, the bill is amended and we start the process over. If the bill passes, it goes before the President. If the bill has 2/3 support or greater, the President will pass the bill. If this level of support is not met, the President will veto the bill."

Teaching Idea

Speed Through The States
Jenny Wilkes, Elementary Teacher

A great method to help students learn their 50 States is to use a blank map of all 50 states and then give them 6 minutes to complete it. I review the correct answers with them. The next day, we do it again. We reduce the time to 5 minutes. We continue this until it takes only 2 minutes for them to identify all the States. This works great!


Teaching Idea

Using Community Resources
Bill, Director of Social Studies K-12: Phoenix. AZ

"Build your own community resource file that includes speakers, sources for free materials, locations for field trips, mentors that can come in and work with children, local agencies that will support any social studies projects. Check to see if your school has such a file that you can build on. Continue to up date your file through the year. Ask parents and students to contribute to the file. have standard letters ready to be sent for invitations; have your students write the letters and also write the thank notes accordingly. Keep a record of events, speakers, etc. and publish them in a quarterly newsletter."

Teaching Idea

Appreciating Age
Margaret, Junior High School Teacher: Austin, TX

"Instruct your students to ask their family members what the oldest human-made object is in their home. Examples can include dishes, clothing, photos, diaries, letters, magazines, etc. The students can then interview the family member who owns the object and inquire about who owned it first, how it was used, the time period that it represents, any historical significance that it may have. Students can also draw the object and tell about any unusual qualities about the memorabilia and discuss it in small groups, etc. Students can also do this with any local antique dealers in the area as well as get information on antiques on the Internet."

Teaching Idea

"The Newspaper Games"
Molly Chapman, West Hill Elementary

"Current events can get tiresome for my students. I decided to make it more fun by incorporating a few fun activities.

Start collecting newspapers right away. The dates of the paper are irrelevant. Everyone in my family saves their papers and gives them to my class. We do a variety of activities that are Interdisciplinary and very educational. Here are a number of newspaper games I play with my students:

1. I give students a headline and have them write an article. You can reverse this and have them create a headline for an article that you provide.
2. If I come across articles that are on the same topic, but from different authors, have them create a Venn Diagram that compares the articles.
3. I have them write job classifieds for fictitious jobs that we create.
4. I have them compare advertisements for similar products and they must decide which product is best.
5. I cut out headlines and have them match articles to the headlines."

Teaching Idea

"How To Choose A Candidate"
Mr. James Mackelern, Social Studies

"I just wanted to share a new project we are doing this year. The Social Studies Teachers had a few days to work together over the summer and we put a great elections project together. We had the ability to telecommunicate with Social Studies teachers from around the country. They were a great help in putting the project together. Many other Teachers are doing this project at the same time and we can compare our results.

Students are interviewing 5 registered voters who they come in contact with on a daily basis. The objective of the interviews is for students to ascertain the salient issues that affect this person and which Presidential candidate meets their value system. We have all students present their results. The next step is to analyze the data. We are going to categorize all potential voters and see how the vote swings based on the categories.

I am also keeping in contact with a classroom teacher from the Midwest who is doing the same project. We will be presenting the results of both classes to our students. I feel the students are really beginning to understand the huge importance of a single issue."

Teaching Idea

"Holiday Geography"
Gary Jelters, Veteran Social Studies Teacher

"It's very hard to get the kids to work for you on the last day before the holiday break.

Every year on the last two days of school, I do a little Holiday Geography with my students. This is an extra credit activity. On day one, we discuss the major December celebrations of the cultures all over the world. We then create small printer labels with a symbol for the various holiday celebrations (i.e. a tree represents Christmas, a menorah represents Hanukkah). I enlarge a map of the world with the photocopier to be the size of the blackboard. Each students picks at least 2 printer labels and we take turns identifying the majority celebration in as many countries as possible countries. I have students print their names at the bottom of the labels prior to placing it on a country.

On day two, students research the countries they identified to hold certain majority celebrations. They must prove or disprove their original choice in writing. I award only a few extra points, if their original choice was correct. I award many more extra points, if they prove or disprove their original choice in writing. This activity really engages students."