Social studies for fifth graders involves requirements set by state and local school officials. Text books and supplemental materials will also vary. However, a comparison of several schools shows some similar lesson objectives. These include a history of the United States from its formation to the present. Our heritage, the government and political processes, states and capitols, geography and maps, and current events. Class projects will help students learn social studies topics in a hands-on way.
Write a Constitution
Refresh students on the components of the United States Constitution. Then have the kids work to develop a constitution for the classroom. The basics of a class constitution could be the rules of the group, rights and freedoms, and maybe the process of disputes or introduction of new ways to do things. The kids can each write with an interesting type of pen and may want to practice and try writing in calligraphy. Try different ways to make the paper look old, yet official, like washing the paper lightly with brown colored water and letting it dry, BEFORE writing on it.
Hold an Election
Fifth graders can learn the process of elections, campaigning for someone, and becoming a candidate themselves. Take field trips to the County Auditor Office, the City Offices to discuss how the Mayor or another official became elected. Ask a Party official to come to school and speak with the students about the election process. Require a notebook of all the processes the students would go through if they were to desire to be an elected official, expenses and donations, campaign events, and all the things an elected official would experience. Have the students write thank-you letters to anyone helping them in research or allowing a personal visit or tour.
Becoming an American Citizen Project
Give fifth graders the opportunity to learn what it is like to desire to be a citizen of America and to follow the required steps. Divide the class into small groups. Have the groups of students work together to research how to become an American citizen. Ask each student to keep a diary, pretending to be from another country. In the diary, the kids should write as though they were experiencing the process and the excitement of becoming a citizen. If desired, hold a mock "citizenship ceremony".
Plot a Map
Provide maps of your city or state to study. Have the kids work in groups to develop a map. Create imaginary names for the city, streets, and landmarks.
Challenge another class, or a group of adults, to a geography bee. Each team can make up some questions that relate to current lessons. Even a simple "name the states and capitols" can provide a challenging program. Add the spelling of some unusual city names, if a tie-breaker is needed.
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