I know what it's like on that night before school starts where you're thinking, "How can I get them excited about coming to Social Studies class?" Here are 10 resources that are going to take the stress off of you the night before the first day back because you'll know that you have plenty to keep your students engaged. A little work on your end before school starts printing and cutting and you're good to go for the first day!
HERE'S WHAT INCLUDED
How Do You Measure Up in History?
Right away when students approach your room, they're going to see this HUGE ruler taped to the wall and the pictures, names, and heights of 40 people from history. You'll hear things like, "We had a president who was 5'4" tall?!"
And there's your hook!
Can You Follow Instructions?
The first step says, "Read everything before doing anything." If they do that, they'll get to Step 20, which says, "Now that you've read carefully do only sentence two."
You'll have kids feeling like they're doing everything right by yelling their name out loud (because that's one of the instructions) or loudly counting backward from 10.
All because they rushed into the activity without following the instructions :)
Start out the year with some laughs and making a point that they'll remember.
50 States Class Competition
This 50 States Class Game is an activity I use in my Geography Unit to encourage students to be able to quickly identify each of the 50 states. This challenge is based on accuracy and then by time. The kids love it and it really pushes them to practice! Included in this resource are instructions for the activity, a numbered states map, answer key, certificate to print off for the winner, and a MS Excel spreadsheet that is already set up for you to use with simple instructions to generate a master list.
This is one of those activities that the kids come back to my room year after year to see if the next wave of students have beaten their old score. Kids love to see if they can beat the teacher in this activity so have fun with it!
50 States Flash Cards
These 50 States Flash Cards will be a great help to your students who don't know their 50 states and could use some practice. When I have students who aren't very familiar with the location of the 50 states I have them make a set of flash cards to take with them and practice with. They'll place a dot on a state and on the back write the name of the state and the capital. Yes, I know there are a lot of online versions, but sometimes it's nice to have something tangible.
United States Latitude and Longitude Puzzle
This puzzle is a set of 85 coordinates that will eventually form the shape of the United States of America. This is a great challenge for students who already know latitude and longitude because it forces them to approximate in-between the lines. For younger students who are just learning latitude and longitude this might be a bit too challenging, but one they can work their way up to! You'll definitely be able to quickly assess how much of a grasp your kids have on latitude and longitude. Plus, who says they can't have fun while they're learning?
U.S. History Museum Walk
Here are 20 pictures of famous people, events, or objects that the kids will learn about in their U.S. History class. Each item gets printed and taped to a wall with the corresponding number taped over them - you know, for the mystery effect. Decide where you'd like to conduct this activity such as your classroom, library, hallway, or wherever you think would work best so you can observe your students.
This resource also comes with an observation sheet for you, the teacher, to take notes on how you see kids working together, who seems to stay quiet, who will need redirection, etc.
American History Timeline Matchup
See how kids work together! This product has the same tasks in two different .pdf formats. One file is with 4 pictures/dates per page (for larger cutouts) and one file is with 9 pictures/dates per page (for smaller cutouts). This way if you have larger class sizes you might be short on desk/table/floor space for the larger cutouts.
I teach 8th grade U.S. History and the way I go about this activity is by printing the pictures and dates on different colored sheets of cardstock, cutting out the dates and pictures, and placing one set of dates and pictures in the same envelope. I do this multiple times according to how many students I have in class and each envelope should have 27 pictures and 27 dates. Students (individually or with a partner) are given an envelope and a set amount of time to try and see how many pairs they can accurately match. It is interesting to see how students go about organizing this task. Some will put all of the dates in chronological order on the floor in a straight line, some sort them vertically, some put what they believe are more current events in one pile and older events in another pile. This will help you get a feel for the organizational skills of your students plus a chance to start conversations with them while they are working about how they are going about the task.
The main point of the activity isn't how many they actually get correct, but if they were close to the actual date. (i.e. not thinking that the 9/11 attacks happened in the 1800's).
What's nice about this activity is the students will put all of the items back in the envelopes and you can store them away until the following year!
Student Conferencing "Deli-Style" - Classroom Management
This is my best-selling resource in my TpT store! If you're planning on checking in with kids individually on the first day and will have them working on their 50 States Flash Cards or on the United States Latitude and Longitude puzzle, introduce this student-conferencing system to them. Just like at a deli, they'll all get a ticket with a number on it, and when they hear the "DING!" on the PowerPoint, they can look at the screen to see which number now gets a conference with you. No more shouting out names...just click!
Random Acts of Kindness Task Cards for Middle School
As a way to encourage kindness on the first day, show students these Random Acts of Kindness Task Cards. I don't ever force kids to take part in this. I'd rather have them intrinsically choose to take one on. I offer these as extra credit (which usually gets a few more to quickly become interested), and they also can get "Kindness Ribbons" that you'll print and cut out for them. It's nice to see the ribbons hanging in kids' lockers as you walk down the hallway.
Create A Caricature Bundle
If you'd like your students to help decorate your classroom with their own creations then you might get a kick out of these caricatures your students will create. Included in this bundle are packets students use with tracing paper where they can create a variety of American Revolution, Civil War, or Branches of the Military caricatures. Each packet has a body shape to choose from, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, etc. that they add to their caricature for a unique look. Kids have a lot of fun with these!
Well, there you go! 10 resources that you have available to use as this school year kicks off. I'm going into my 19th year teaching middle school and I'll still get those little butterflies in my stomach the night before. However, I sleep so much better knowing that I've got resources ready for when I meet the kids the next day. Have a great year!
-Surviving Social Studies
Connect with Surviving Social Studies...
Be sure to follow my TpT store by clicking on the ‘Follow Me’ next to my logo to receive notifications of new products and upcoming sales.
Follow me on Pinterest
Follow me on Instagram
Thanks for stopping by!
Surviving Social Studies
Copyright ©Surviving Social Studies. All rights reserved by author. This product is to be used by the original downloader only. Copying for more than one teacher, classroom, department, school, or school system is prohibited. This product may not be distributed or displayed digitally for public view. Failure to comply is a copyright infringement and a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Clipart and elements found in this PDF are copyrighted and cannot be extracted and used outside of this file without permission or license. Intended for classroom and personal use ONLY.