Ever since the acclaimed “Hamilton” musical was released it has been said by many people that they learned more about the workings of the United States government and the history of the founding fathers watching the show than they did in their entire school career. This should not be the case! The three branches of government should be covered in middle school social studies classes, along with the constitution and other historically important events.
Assigning projects is a good way to ensure that students are gaining a proper understanding of the curriculum. You can find a list of social studies projects here. Whether you are homeschooling, or a teacher in a traditional classroom, it is your responsibility to make sure that these concepts are being taught. The remainder of this article will line out a few ideas for teaching them in a fun way for kids to understand.
The Constitution of the United States of America
This important document is the foundational piece in understanding the why and how of the United States government. The above link gives you access to a constitution packet that has hands-on activities. Specifically the preamble section is very valuable. There is a puzzle that your child or student will love, and it is a way for them to understand the infamous introduction to the constitution. You can also find pre-made tabs to create a social studies notebook full of constitution facts so that children can easily revisit the information again and again.
Have you ever heard of a candy bar election? Start by making a little polling booth out of a cardboard box and allow the students to go through the process of what it is like to vote as an adult. The ballot could include things like the best candy bar, soda, favorite color, etc. Make it fun! You could also have the kids vote on things like changs they would make to house or school rules. You could also consider putting two of your children up for “president” and have them explain what policies they would put in place and why.
Understanding the day to day life of pioneers is an important part of social studies. There are a lot of fun ways to recreate a day in the life of pioneers. You can have students or your own family dress up in traditional clothing they would have been wearing at the time. Some activities you could do include churning butter and dipping candles. A pioneer day project could be to keep a journal for one whole day or one week of everything that they as a “pioneer” did just to survive. You could also have them watch a movie and note what things were different about colonial life.
Learning about Social Studies in Middle School
Middle school is the perfect time to get into the nitty gritty of social studies. Some of the topics covered in this curriculum are more complex to understand and need to be remembered throughout life. The constitution, for example, is a prime example of that. We hope that all middle school aged children are gaining a solid foundation of these principles, and if you use any of these social studies projects, please let us know!