Tag Archives: social studies standards

Third Grade, Puzzle and Map Skills

I have been working with the third grades to let them have some experience using atlases.  They used atlases and looked up rivers that they need to know for their social studies standards, noting on a graphic organizer what states they saw the rivers flowing through.  The second week they used that graphic organizer and an atlas to locate the rivers on a laminated U.S. map and they traced the length of the rivers with dry erase markers (they love dry erase markers).  As a follow up I planned an activity with jigsaw puzzles of the United States.


Jigsaw Puzzle of the U.S.A.

I introduced the activity by asking if the students had any strategies they used when doing puzzles.  Many of our children don’t have much experience putting together puzzles.  Some suggested looking at the box for what the puzzle should look like.  I offered that they might want to look for straight edges so they could complete the outside first.

They are so weak in their georgraphy skills as they are not part of the social studies standards, ie. they don’t know the names of all of the states!  Most have no clue where states are in relationship to other states.  I thought this might be a good way to introduce some of this information.

The Winners Are…

Although it was not a race, this group was proud that they were the first ones to complete the puzzle (I had four puzzles in total)!  Team work makes the dream work…



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3rd Grade and My Maps

Third grade students study Native American tribes, their locations and the natural resources they used.  I thought a good way for them to get a visual of all of the locations would be to for them to each create a My Maps in Google.  I checked with the 3rd grade chair and asked which tribes they were working on to represent the different geographic areas of the U.S.  She gave me a list and from there I created a graphic organizer to aid the students as they searched locations.IMG_2293

I originally had the directions at the top of the sheet, but after one class realized that the students needed the directions to be in a list with bullet points.  So I retyped the directions in that format and they were better able to follow them .IMG_2246

After modelling the process and showing it on a large screen we then had to have them use their tablets to log into their Google account (via their school provided email address).  This took the entirety of the time in the library for many students.  It only has to be done once, but some struggled to type in everything correctly. Several students in each class whizzed along and had several locations marked before others successfully logged in!  They were then the experts.

At the second session I demonstrated how to search and add an image for each tribe.  Those who had marked all of the tribes proceeded to this step.  We worked at this for a 3rd session and about 95% of the students had all locations marked.  Some (maybe about 30%) had images for some or all tribes.  I asked the teachers to let the rest work on it in class as time permits.

I really wanted them to type in a fact or two about each tribe, but not sure if the teachers will follow through.  Several of the students were so excited to work on this project, so that made the sometimes hectic sessions all worthwhile.

This grade level also has to teach about explorers this year, so I saw where you could draw paths between locations.  I experimented with it and created a sample and shared the link to the teachers.  Hopefully they will use these trained-up students to create maps tracing the voyages of the explorers.  I will get back with them and offer my support if they choose to use My Maps-Google again.

My sample for the explorer map:



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4th Grades “Explore” Prezi

prezi1prezi2Our fourth grade students are required to learn six explorers according to the current Georgia Performance Standards in Social Studies: SS4H2 The student will describe European exploration in North America. a. Describe the reasons for, obstacles to, and accomplishments of the Spanish, French, and English explorations of John Cabot, Vasco Núñez de Balboa, Juan Ponce de León, Christopher Columbus, Henry Hudson, and Jacques Cartier.

I designed a project where the students researched an explorer so that they could create a Prezi which would be an advertisement to persuade viewers to join them on their expedition.

Livebinders Guided Research

I gathered resources for each explorer using Livebinders to expedite and streamline the research process.  The students used a graphic organizer I created to guide their research.  By answering the questions, the students would have sufficient information to write their advertisement.  The students conducted their research independently and then worked with a group to create one Prezi per explorer for the class.livebinders


I reviewed the groups individual graphic organizers to ensure that among all of the group they collectively had sufficient (and correct) information to write their advertisement. Students were not familiar with Prezi, but they were very excited when they saw how it worked.  I modeled it briefly and we discussed writing in the first person, as if they were the explorer.  Some go the hang of that quicker than others, but it was good practice.  Before they could add any images, they had to have written all of their text.  I have found that they get so excited about the pictures, that the text falls to the wayside!

Here are a few of their projects:




Images and Giving Credit

I collected images for each explorer ahead of time, saving the image and renaming the image with the sources’ name.  This saves the students time.  I try to get this project done in about 4 library visits, so anything that saves a bit of time is helpful.  I created a folder for each explorer with sufficient images that they could pick and choose.  They had to give credit to the owner of the image (creating a text box in the frame with the image) and they picked up on that right away.

Citing our Sources

The last frame of each Prezi had to include the website addresses of each website that the group used.  We didn’t do MLA or any official format.  At this point I wanted them just to be aware of citing their resources.

Reflection via Flipgrid

These fourth grade students really enjoyed thinking outside the Power Point box, although most of them had only made one or two Power Points before this year. Reflecting on their learning is a big part of the International Baccalaureate program, so I had the student use Flipgrid to record their written reflection.  They love to see and hear themselves!

Check out some of their reflections: https://flipgrid.com/57a659

Students used Flipgrid to record their reflection on the explorer Prezi project and process.

Students used Flipgrid to record their reflection on the explorer Prezi project and process.


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2nd Grade Dives into Reference Books: Dictionary & Encyclopedia

Second grade students come in with very little experience with reference sources, so we usually kick off with dictionaries. I try to give them an opportunity to use them near the beginning of the year.  We kick off our lessons about reference tools with a traditional paper dictionary.  They were assigned a word that related to Jimmy Carter, one of the historical figures they were studying in their unit of inquiry.  They looked up the word and I asked them to copy the definition.

Guide Works-Necessary Skill

I had them practice using guide words the previous week with some laminated guide letter pages and actual words.  After an overview of how dictionaries are arranged and a review of alphabetizing words the students work in pairs, receiving 3 words which they put in alphabetical order.  They then proceed to the guide letter sheets which are spread out on low book shelves.  That’s all we do that week.

Guide letter sheets and words

Guide letter sheets and words

A teacher snapped this photo of me.  She said there are never any pictures of me as I am always the one behind the camera!

A teacher snapped this photo of me. She said there are never any pictures of me as I am always the one behind the camera!

Using the Dictionary

The next week, we reviewed the form and function of dictionaries.  I had them work in small groups again, as they looked up the word and chose one definition.  They indicated the part of speech the word they were looking up was and proceeded to write down a definition.


Graphic organizer for dictionary lesson

Graphic organizer for dictionary lesson


We moved onto encyclopedias the next week.  Once again I chose an historical figure they were studying, Tomochichi, as our subject.  We used the online version of World Book Encyclopedia, as they can all be looking up the same subject and we are only limited by the number of computers we have (or tablets they bring with them).   I asked them to search for Tomochichi and read through the article (only 3 brief paragraphs) which is on an appropriate reading level.  They then decided which fact to record on their sheet.  I also added a spot for them to record which source they were using (they just had to write, World Book Kids or World Book Encyclopedia), as I want them to get in the habit of citing their sources.

Encyclopedia graphic organizer

Encyclopedia graphic organizer

2nd grade students using our World Book Encyclopedia online subscription

2nd grade students using our World Book Encyclopedia online subscription

Next week we moved onto atlases.


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The Twenties, Jazz Age, Harlem Renaissance and Chatterpix

Our fifth grade students are required to be knowledgeable of 5 figures from the 1920’s United States history: Louis Armstrong, Langston Hughes, Babe Ruth, Charles Lindbergh and Henry Ford.

Georgia Performance Standards: SS5H4b. Describe the cultural developments and individual contributions in the 1920s of the Jazz Age (Louis Armstrong), the Harlem Renaissance (Langston Hughes), baseball (Babe Ruth), the automobile (Henry Ford), and the airplane (Charles Lindbergh).

Collaborating with the teachers, we decided that the students would use Chatterpix to record a first person narrative in the persona of one of the historical figures.

Graphic Organizer and Livebinders

I designed a graphic organizer for the students to use to collect their notes and write their script.  I created Livebinders for each historical figure to ensure that the students used quality, reliable websites.  Here is a link to one of the Livebinders:


Livebinder for resources on Charles Lindbergh

Livebinder for resources on Charles Lindbergh

Chatterpix Recordings

I looked over the students’ scripts trying to ensure they were written in first person, contained sufficient details to explain why these people are notable and how they changed the United States in the 1920s, and didn’t contain a sentence about when that person died (looking at the recordings, I see that one of these statements did slip by). We had two iPads in use at one time and students didn’t need much help using Chatterpix as last year as 4th graders they did a Chatterpix.  At this point one class has finished their recordings, a second one has done a few, and we haven’t started recording the third class yet!

Uploading to YouTube

I uploaded the finished Chatterpix to my YouTube channel so that I can share the links easily to each of the teachers and the students.  Our students all have a Dell tablet assigned to them, so they will be able to view their Chatterpix and their classmates easily on YouTube.  I sure wish there was an android version of Chatterpix and then it would be so much easier!  When all 5th students are finished, I will share the link on our school’s new Facebook page.

My YouTube channel link:


Technology Challenges

Last year, after students finished their American Revolutionary War historical figures’ Chatterpix, I just exported them easily by choosing the email option.  This year, using the same iPad, that didn’t work and neither did using the export to YouTube option.  So, I exported them to “Photos” and then used the USB cord to directly connect the iPad to my laptop and copied them.  Then uploaded them to my YouTube channel!  Oh, and then today I couldn’t get the iPad to connect to our school’s wifi.  Boy, some days technology is so much fun!!!

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