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Elementary is the age and the time to stimulate the imagination and creativity. By nature, young kids have more of both. I would like to see anything artistic that I can create with my hands. I would like to see storytelling, acting, music - anything that feeds that creativity.
I have heard school districts talk about putting Social Studies curriculum for elementary students on the back burner and concentrating on reading, writing, and math in order to better prepare students for State Testing. Social Studies and Science would be addressed only through reading activities.
Students at this level need a lesson broken up into smaller sections. Hands on activities are good, but students still need some guidance in choosing and completing the activities. Try putting several activities in a tic-tac-toe grid so that students can choose three of the nine activities. Try creating activities that address the different intelligences so that students can choose one or two with which they’re comfortable, but then they also have to reach beyond their comfort zone to complete one.
My son is in the fifth grade and he is all about all things war. He loves everything about any war--Am. Rev., Civil War, World War I, II, Korea, Vietnam. He is a walking, talking encylcopedia about dates, events, causes, and weaponry.
The topic might be secondary to the medium. I think elementary students need to get as familiarized with technology as a tool to demonstrate their process and products of learning as soon as possible. State capitals, geography, history, or politics can all be taught with technological tools. Whatever the lesson plan featured, I think that if one can effectively and authentically integrate technology within it, the more engaged the younger students will be. They are so tech savvy at such a young age that their learning is linked to their understanding of technology and if the resources can facilitate it, I would stress that its presence is vital in reaching younger, and older, students.
My sister teaches 5th grade social studies and said that her students love any lesson plan that encourages their involvement, especially a debate of some kind. One of their favorite activities is when my sister gives them a list of about 5 statements which connect to whatever their topic is (social classes, various civilizations, etc.) and asks them to rate the statements with challenge or defend. They like being able to voice their opinions, and she encourages them to justify their opinions with connections to other societies, current events, or personal examples.
When I was in second grade many, many decades ago, I enjoyed biographical info about famous Americans--couldn't get enough about the Presidents, famous soldiers, explorers, inventors, etc. Today, I would like to learn more about international customs and the peoples of various countries--particularly Eastern Europe and Asia.
I think it depends on what grade level you are talking about. K/1/2 kids need basic information; it seems to make them feel more at ease in their world if they understand it a bit. By the time they are in 5th/6th grade, they seem to appreciate knowing the truth behind some of the myths...it seems to make them feel more grown-up. For instance, finding out that Columbus and his crew didn't exactly have a wonderful effect on the native peoples, or that Washington did not really cut down a cherry tree helps them become a bit more discriminating in their information intake.
So I just asked my second grade daughter, who is a genuine elementary school student. She says she would like to learn about how political parties are formed. I'm not sure that's what I'd say, but she's the elementary student...
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