Social Studies Resources

BOOK LIST:

Below I have accumulated 10 high-quality Social Studies related books that range between K-6th grade. On top of the initial list, there are links to the book, any additional lesson plans, videos, photos and a correlating standard that can be addressed if reading this book.

  • On A Beam Of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein – By: Jennifer Berne & Vladimir Radunsky
    • Suggested Age: 4-8 years
    • Framework Standard: INQ K–2.11 Construct explanations using correct sequence and relevant information.
    • Links: Braingpickings.org
    • Reviews: “Richly imagined, beautifully designed, impressionistic biography.” —School Library Journal

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  • The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued Jews During the Holocaust – By: Karen Grey Ruelle & Deborah Durland DeSaix
    • Suggested Age: 8-11 years
    • Framework Standard: HIST 1.7 Generate questions about a particular historical source as it relates to a particular historical event or development.
    • Links: NYTimes.com
    • Reviews: “While Ruelle admits in her afterword that “many of the details of this story are destined to remain forever uncertain,” she and DeSaix (who also collaborated on Hidden on the Mountain) have pieced together a fascinating history of how the North African Muslim community of Paris and the Grand Mosque secretly harbored Jews and others after the Nazi invasion (“It was… an oasis hidden behind high walls right in the middle of the city”). The story isn’t always easy to follow—it is by necessity episodic—though Ruelle provides ample detail and explanation, and DeSaix’s moody oils provide the emotional and narrative ballast. Working mostly in double-page spreads, she masterfully conveys how the compound’s serene, exotic interiors offered reassurance during desperate times. In one of the most striking images, a Jewish girl stands solemnly in front of one of the mosque’s elaborately tiled walls; it’s as if the mosaic’s beauty and scale had a talismanic power, capable of warding off an otherwise horrible fate. Ages 8–up.” – Publishers Weekly

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  • Flood – By: Alvaro F. Villa
    • Suggested Age: 6-8 years
    • Framework Standard: GEO K.4 Explain how weather, climate, and other environmental characteristics affect people’s lives in places or regions.
    • Links: Kid-Lit-Reviews.com
    • Reviews: “This wordless picture book demonstrates the powerful impact of a flood as it affects one rural family and their home. It takes the reader through the beginning stages of a storm building up to the peak at which full-fledged flooding waters pound the structure and into the aftermath. The devastation often wipes out both the interior and exterior components of the home. We watch as the family prepares by keeping up with the weather reports on television, preparing the house with sandbags, and taking their most prized possessions and leaving before the worst hits. After the climax of the storm, the family regroups at the house, where they go to work repairing the damage. The illustrator cleverly depicts each scene and gives us such detail that we can tell the story without any words. The pictures have brilliant color and a voice of their own.” – Children’s Literature

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  • Nurse, Soldier, Spy:The Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero– By: Marissa Moss & John Henderix
    • Suggested Age: 8-12 years
    • Framework Standard: HIST 2.4 Explain perspectives of people in the past to those of people in the present.
    • Links: MarissaMoss.com
    • ReviewsThe focused view makes the book accessible for children. The pen-and-ink with acrylic wash illustrations are full of vibrant detail. Hendrix presents a meticulous view of military life, including army camp layouts and fortifications. Hand-drawn typography highlights important or humorous points in the text and adds even more visual interest.” –School Library Journal

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  • Chasing Lincoln’s Killer: The Search for John Wilkes Booth – By: James L. Swanson
    • Suggested Age: 11-14 years
    • Framework Standard:  HIST 5.6 Compare information provided by different historical sources about the past
    • Links: Scholastic.com
    • Reviews: “...the rich details and suspense are ever present. Excellent black-and-white illustrations complement the text. Readers will be engrossed by the almost hour-by-hour search and by the many people who encountered the killer as he tried to escape. It is a tale of intrigue and an engrossing mystery. With the approaching bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth, this is a most welcome addition to all libraries.” — School Library Journal

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  •  It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going! – By: Chelsea Clinton
    • Suggested Age: 10-14 years
    • Framework Standard: ECO 5.1 Identify positive and negative incentives that influence the decisions people make.
    • Links: ItsYourWorld.com
    • Reviews: “This earnest compendium by the former (and perhaps future) presidential First Daughter outlines ways that teens and tweens can harness their power for good. Clinton begins each of the book’s four sections (It’s Your Economy, It’s Your Right, It’s Your Body, It’s Your Environment) with an overview of problems—homelessness, gender discrimination, disease, pollution—and clearly explains how perniciously interconnected so many of them are: poverty results in hunger, which affects school performance, which undermines employability. She highlights young people who have already done extraordinary things to improve their communities, then enumerates several opportunities available to readers: fundraising to build wells, patronizing restaurants that participate in food giveaways, donating hair to make wigs for kids with cancer. She also shares some tidbits of personal history—her aversion to corporal punishment stems from being paddled in elementary school after a classmate tricked her into saying a bad word to a beloved teacher. Clinton clearly paid attention to her parents’ discussions at the dinner table, and she capably shares the lessons they imparted about the future impact of what we do in the present.” – Publishers Weekly

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  •  I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World – By: Malala Yousafzai
    • Suggested Age: 10-17 years
    • Framework Standard: HIST 6–8.1 Use questions about historically significant people or events to explain the impact on a region.
    • Links: BBC.com
    • Reviews: “In this young readers edition of Yousafzai’s best-selling memoir, the Nobel Peace Prize winner retells her experiences at home and at school and discusses the impact of the Taliban presence in Pakistan. Her strong voice and ideals come across on every page, emphasizing how her surroundings and supportive family helped her become the relevant figure she is today. Yousafzai highlights the importance of school and how it was the only space where she felt empowered. Although at times the transitions between personal accounts and historical background feel abrupt, Yousafzai effectively summarizes her story and her advocacy for girls’ education, peace, and human rights. Above all, she stresses that she doesn’t want to be known as the girl shot by the Taliban but rather as a young person who actively fought for education. A strong addition to social studies, history, and biography collections” – School Library Journal

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  •  The 50 States: Explore the U.S.A with 50 fact-filled maps! – By: Sol Linero & Gabrielle Balkan
    • Suggested Age: 7-10 years
    • Framework Standard: ECO 2.3 Describe the goods and services that people in the local community produce and those that are produced in other communities.
    • Links: GabrielleBalkan.com
    • Reviews: “This trivia-stuffed U.S. atlas offers simplified state maps peppered with crisp, iconlike images of local monuments, wildlife, foods, and more. Balkan provides conversational, incisive introductions to each state, focusing on its history and cultural essence: “Oregon is… original. Way back in 1971, the 33rd state passed the first ever Bicycle Bill, which said that all new roads must include areas for bikers and walkers.” Notable historical and contemporary figures of note appear in small golden frames (there’s a heavy emphasis on artists and authors, particularly children’s book creators), while sidebars show time lines of wide-ranging moments, such as Minnesotan Kate DiCamillo’s Newbery Medal win for The Tale of Despereaux or when woodpeckers delayed the launch of the Discovery space shuttle in 1995. A stylish atlas that evokes the character and diversity of the country, equally suitable for coffee tables or family vacations.” – Publishers Weekly

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  • A Cool Drink of Water – By: Barbra Kerley
    • Suggested Age: 2-5 years
    • Framework Standard: INQ K–2.15 Identify and explain a range of local, regional, and global problems, and some ways in which people are trying to address these problems.
    • Links: NationalGeographic.com & BarbaraKerley.com
    • Reviews“When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.” Benjamin Franklin might have been speaking directly to us. The striking color photographs (presumably chosen from the National Geographic Society’s files) vividly illustrate the coolness, sparkle, and desirability of water as it’s drunk, stored, and transported around the world. Kerley has lived on Guam and in Nepal, where she experienced firsthand the difficulties in some societies of obtaining this basic need of all people. Accompanying text, set in large type, is minimal, but the pictures speak for themselves, from black-clad Indian women carrying the liquid in bright brass pots to a small boy drinking from a boat-shaped fountain in Rome. Picture credits and a short explanation of each are given at the end along with a map of the source locations. For teachers and older readers, John M. Fahey, Jr., president of the National Geographic Society, has appended an urgent appeal for the conservation of this precious and increasingly scarce resource. This attractive multicultural book will appeal to readers and browsers of various ages or could be used as an eye-catching introduction to a thematic unit on water and its vital importance to all mankind.” – Children’s Literature  

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  • Sweet Music in Harlem – By: Debbie A. Taylor & Frank Morrison
    • Suggested Age: 5-8 years
    • Framework Standard: CIV K.2 Explain how all people, not just official leaders, play an important role in a community.
    • Links: LeeandLow.com
    • Reviews: “Inspired by Art Kane’s famous 1958 photograph of nearly 60 celebrated jazz musicians gathered in front of a brownstone in Harlem, first-time author Taylor relates the story of young C.J., who is trying to find his musician uncle’s hat in time for a photo shoot for a jazz magazine. He finds his uncle’s watch at the barber shop, his handkerchief at the restaurant and his bow tie at a nightclub. All the people C.J. has encountered in his search have come to join his uncle in the photo by the time the photographer arrives. They were “some of the greatest musicians and singers in Harlem. It was like seeing the sun, the moon, and the stars all shining at once.” That evening his uncle gives C.J. an early birthday present of a new clarinet, and the two discover the hat tucked into the gift box; C.J.’s “own sweet music [rings] out clear and strong.” In a confident debut, Morrison nearly channels Ernie Barnes, working in velvety, contrasting colors to depict characters with thin, elongated limbs and expressive faces. The arms and legs twist at right angles, and even the desks, cabinets, drapery and wooden floors seem to be full of energy. A full-page author’s note reproduces the historical photograph and names all 57 musicians, among them whites as well as blacks; oddly, Morrison’s painting shows only black artists assembled before the camera. Readers are bound to notice and puzzle at the change.” – Publisher’s Weekly

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EDUCATIONAL FILMS:

  1. Flying Over America – Geography of America
    • Summary: A video from the perspective of the sky, flying over America, getting to see the landscape and national monument across the country and the difference in terrain from the east to the west.
    • Framework Standard: GEO 4.5 Describe how environmental and cultural characteristics influence population distribution in specific places or regions
  2. Bye, Bye Bottle: Learning About Recycling – PBS Learning Media
    • Summary: A video that simply explains the process of recycling.
    • Framework Standard: CIV 2.7 Describe how people have tried to improve their communities over time.
  3. Martin Luther Ling, Jr. – BrainPop
    • Summary: A quick summary of the impacts that Martin Luther King has left throughout his life and how we remember him today.
    • Framework Standard: CIV 3.6 Explain how rules and laws change society and how people change rules and laws.
  4. Tour of the States – Marbles the Brain Store
    • Summary: A upbeat sing-songy video that mentions all the the states of America and their capitals while drawing a picture that is representative of each state.
    • Framework Standard: GEO 4.7 Explain how human settlements and movements relate to the locations and use of various natural resources.
  5. Crash Course: Native Americans & Spaniards – Thought Cafe
    • Summary: An illustrated video on the history of Native Americans discussing the beliefs they have and how they lived their everyday life. It is a great introduction into their culture.
    • Framework Standard: CIV 5.2 Describe ways in which people benefit from and are challenged by working together
  6.  The Life of George Washington – Scholastic
    • Summary: A brief history on the life of George Washington and what he has done in his lifetime to how create the foundation of this country.
    • Framework Standard: HIST 1.2 Generate questions about individuals and groups who have shaped a significant historical change.
  7.  Leap Year – Veggie Tales
    • Summary: A cute little story explaining how leap year was created and why we still have it, and need it, today.
    • Framework Standard: INQ K–2.11 Construct explanations using correct sequence and relevant information.
  8.  The Birth of the Constitution – Daily motion
    • Summary: This longer 24 minute video uses the help of Charlie Brown and his friends to explain the creation of the US Constitution and why it is so important to our country.
    • Framework Standard: CIV 5.4 Explain how policies are developed to address public problems.
  9.  Plymouth Plantation – Scholastic
    • Summary: This is a series of virtual field trips, illustrating what it was like to live in the same ear as when the Pilgrims first arrived here in America.
    • Framework Standard: HIST 6–8.1 Use questions about historically significant people or events to explain the impact on a region.
  10.  The Atlantic Slave Trade – TedEd Talk
    • Summary: This short five minute video is filled with information on this history surrounding the Atlantic Slave Trade, including what is was life the the African Peoples, and what they were used for.
    • Framework Standard: ECO 6–7.1 Explain how economic decisions affect the well-being of individuals, businesses, and society.
Note: There were no direct lesson plans linked to these videos. If there were, they were not free of charge, but by clicking the link attached to the video, it will either bring you directly to the video, or to the video and the page it was attached to with potential teaching guides. 

SOCIAL STUDIES APPS:

  • APP- Stack the States
    • Helps kids learn capitals, state shapes, location, flags, etc. by playing fun and engaging games. Kids stay motivated to keep learning by working toward the goal of collecting all 50 states!
    • This app could be used as a fun interactive “pop quiz” as students are learning about geography and the states of America. It is also a great tool to get them to study.

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  • APP- Ansel & Clair: Paul Revere’s Ride
    •  An app where students travel back to 1775 and take a trip along-side Paul Revere on his midnight ride though the country-side of Mass. Kids play mini games, take pop quizzes, and view art, music, and poetry from the contextual era.
    • As stated below, this new way of learning can act as a great introduction to Revolutionary America, so students could learn and play around on the app before a Unit has begun.

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  • APP- History Atlas for Kids
    • Children explore the ancient worlds of Ancient Egypt, Roman Empire, & Greek Civilization by playing games, looking at hundreds of images, and dozens of videos.
    • As stated above, the images and videos act as great aids to promote comprehension of this topic as a whole and give students great content as to what they are studying.

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  • APP- Whole Wide World
    •  Students travel the world virtually learning about new cultures and life experiences as they answer questions and play games to gather postcards and passport stamps. Themes focus on Geography, Social Studies, History, and Culture.
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  • APP- Lincoln 1863: Lincoln’s Journey to Gettysburg
    •  Students follow President Lincoln on his journey from Washington D.C. to Pennsylvania to deliver his famous Gettysburg Address as they discover famous people, places, and experiences.

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TEACHING STRATEGIES:

  • Graffiti Wall – Creating a graffiti wall can be exciting for students, but giving them their own maker and allowing them to walk up to the board to share their knowledge. This is a great tool because teachers are able to find out what their students may already know on a specific topic. On top of this, teachers can see what the students took away from a lesson by continuously adding to the wall, or creating a new on to compare and contrast the learning that had been done.

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  • Lap Book – Lap books are cheap artistic ways to get students to review or study specific content. They are able to make the lap books themselves or can be something they construct with a teacher’s printouts. They are bright, interesting and allow students to display the information they have learned interactively.

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  • Door Slap – A great form of formative assessment and can be used will younger elementary kids but is a great way to test the comprehension a class as a whole has on a particular subject. It is quick an easy and a great exit slip because students are able to slap their sticky note on the door as they leave the room for their next class, or at the end of the day. Students are motivated to participate because they get to leave once they have slapped the door.

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  • Informative Mini Books – Informative mini books are great ways for students to consciously display what they learned throughout a unit. This miniature book is especially great for younger elementary students because they don’t feel the pressure of filling a whole page with knowledge and they have to practice summarizing their thoughts in order to fit it on the page. Students can also trade mini books to learn more about different topics.

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  • Interactive Notebook: Interactive notebooks are a great way to keep older students engaged in class while proactively “doodling” in their notes. Rather than just words all jumbled up on a paged, interactive notebooks promote students to stay organized and write down only the specific and important notes that they will need to remember in the future.

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FIELD TRIPS:

  1. Museum Of Connecticut History
    • Grade: 4th-12th
    • Address: 231 Capitol Ave., Hartford, CT 06106
    • Social Studies Framework: CIV 4.1 Illustrate historical and contemporary means of changing society.
  2. Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum
    • All Grade Levels
    • Address : 211 Main Street, Wethersfield, CT 06109
    • Social Studies Framework: HIST 5.7 Generate questions about multiple historical sources and their relationships to particular historical events and developments.
  3. Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center
    • All Grade Levels
    • Address: 110 Pequot Trail, Mashantucket, CT 06338
    • Social Studies Framework: ECO 1.3 Describe the goods and services that people in the local community produce and those that are produced in other communities & ECO 1.4 Explain how people earn income.
  4. Greenwich Historical Society
    • All Grade Levels
    • Address: 39 Strickland Road, Cos Cob, CT
    • Social Studies Framework: HIST 3.5 Describe how people’s perspectives shaped the historical sources they created.
  5. Connecticut River Museum
    • All Grade Levels
    • Address: 67 Main St., Essex, CT 06426
    • Social Studies Framework:  CIV 1.3 Describe how communities work to accomplish common tasks, establish responsibilities, and fulfill roles of authority.
  6. Earth Adventure
    • All Grade Levels
    • Social Studies Framework: GEO 4.8 Analyze the effects of catastrophic environmental and technological events on human settlements and migration.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

  1. Virtual Field Trips – Edutopia
  2. The Miniature Earth Project
  3. Geography Awareness – National Geographic