5 Simple Strategies to Seamlessly Add Social Studies to Your Daily Teaching

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How much time do you spend teaching social studies each day? Each week? Did you know that recent research shows the positive impact on reading comprehension by dedicating just 30 minutes a day to teaching social studies?

“The researchers analyzed reading scores for almost 7,000 students, tracing them from first to fifth grade, and also looked at how much time they reportedly spent on ELA and other subjects. By fifth grade, students who received an additional thirty minutes a day of social studies instruction got significantly higher reading scores than students who didn’t.” 

Natalie Wexler, Forbes

Often the teachers in the trenches do not have a choice in their daily schedules as they are dictated by administrators. If you are a teacher that is constrained by your schedule, but want to increase your students’ reading comprehension, I’m here to help!

Below, I present FIVE PRACTICAL APPROACHES to effortlessly infuse more social studies content into your daily lessons, thereby increasing your students’ reading comprehension.


ENRICH READ-ALOUDS WITH SOCIAL STUDIES BOOKS

https://www.teachingbooks.net/tb.cgi?wid=79

My NUMBER ONE TIP for seamlessly integrating social studies into your curriculum is by incorporating both fiction and non-fiction social studies books during your read-aloud sessions.

You may be wondering where to find great social studies based read-alouds – I’ve got the perfect solution! Did you know that the National Council of Social Studies creates a list every year of the Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People? I so look forward to the list coming out and checking out their recommendations and saving my favorites. The list is categorized by grade levels (elementary, middle, high school), and each entry is supplemented with informative annotations.

I’m so excited to share this wonderful free online resource that lets you filter the entire list of Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People. The website includes all of the lists since 2015. You can sort by grade level, cultural experience, genre, and more! Here’s the link for your convenience. 


CONNECT THE DOTS WITH MAPS

https://www.teachingbooks.net/tb.cgi?wid=79

Do you have a map of the world or the United States on the wall of your classroom? Or do you have pull-down maps? I really love pull-down maps since wall space is scarce in elementary classrooms. Whatever way you can make it work, make sure you have maps hanging in your classroom. (P.S. Ask your custodian if there are any pull-down maps stashed away; they always know where you can find the good stuff!)

But how can you harness the potential of these maps? Whenever you encounter any reference to a region, country, state, or city in your lessons, point it out on the map.

Let’s say you are reading Rechenka’s Eggs to your students; take a minute to tell the students that the setting is in Moscow, Russia. On the map, show them Russia and its relationship to the United States. When the author mentions Moscow, point to Moscow on the map. In just a few short minutes you have helped students build their background knowledge about Russia. 


MORNING MEETING

Ye Olde Weird But True: 300 Outrageous Facts from History

Another way to add social studies to your day is through your morning meeting. One idea is to do “Monday Maps.” On Mondays, include a map in your morning message. For example, you could include an outline of your state and ask the question, “What state is this?” and the students can respond with sticky-notes… or however you choose to have them answer. 

Another morning meeting ideas is to share a weird history fact and ask the question: “Do you think this statement is true or false?”  A great source for weird history facts is this book, Ye Olde Weird But True: 300 Outrageous Facts from History


SHARING PRIMARY SOURCES

5 simple ways to add social studies to your daily teaching

Share a primary source like an old photograph, painting, or artifact and ask the students to examine the image. If you choose an old photograph, for example, show the image and then ask the students: What do you see? What is happening? How can you tell? Next, ask the students to infer as to what happened just before the picture was taken, what happened after picture was taken, and what evidence from the image backs that up.

*Be sure to use the word infer. You want them to really understand what that means. If you are looking for a ready-to-use resource, check out my Teaching Inference Using Historical Pictures package. 


FOSTERING EVERYDAY CITIZENS

5 simple ways to add social studies to your teaching day

Any time you have your students engage in classroom voting, use these opportunities to emphasize the importance of citizen participation. Highlight that voting is a fundamental right for citizens in the United States.

Furthermore, incorporate discussions about local current events into your lessons. For example, if a new bridge or highway is being constructed in your town, explain to your students that taxes contribute to funding such projects.

At the outset of the school year, establish connections between classroom and school expectations and the attributes of good citizenship. Later, continue to broaden these discussions to explain to students what constitutes good citizenship within the community, state, and beyond.


In a world that’s constantly changing, where understanding the past helps us navigate the future, the role of social studies in education cannot be overstated. Through the lens of recent research, we know the impact of dedicating just half an hour a day to this subject. As you’ve explored the five practical strategies I’ve shared, think about the possibilities they hold for your classroom. These strategies are more than just techniques; they’re pathways to creating a generation of learners who are equipped to critically analyze, thoughtfully engage with their surroundings, and actively contribute to the betterment of society. 

I hope you will consider trying some or all of these strategies. My goal is to help make teaching social studies a breeze and help our students become informed citizens and better readers. Together, we’ll bring the world into our classroom in a way that’s engaging, practical, and meaningful.