Seventh grade is the first year of junior high school at many institutions. Children between 12 and 13 years old learn to expand their critical thinking skills, research experience and personal expression. The topics covered in social studies classes vary according to the school and district curriculums. However, creative and interactive projects can nurture important skills and support each child in pursuing her interests while applying her enthusiasm to the topic of study. Focused social studies projects can be developed as collaborative or individual efforts; grading for team projects can include overall work and individual performance to encourage equal contributions.
As each part of the world is studied, groups can collaborate to prepare a time capsule of memorable items for that region in a given period of time. Assign groups of four or five children with a region and time period, and give each group a cardboard box. Each group can collaborate to design and decorate the box to reflect the culture and time period. Direct each child to select an item to include in the time capsule and create a model of it. Arrange for a group presentation of each time capsule with each child explaining about his item, its use and origin and importance. Grade each group on the overall team project and presentation.
Children in seventh grade are developing their sense of style and personality. A project involving a historic figure enables a child to select someone that reflects her interests, which can promote research skills. Compile a list of acceptable historic figures according to your region and time frame. Allow each student to select a historic figure. Assign supporting work to guide the class's research efforts such as developing an outline for a report, identifying references from the library, drawing a book cover for a biography, preparing a presentation and dressing up as the historic figure.
An interesting project can be assigned across classes where a present-day student can interview the historic figure by exchanging letters in a shared notebook. The interviewer can communicate with the figure in a communal notebook. Grade the team on the content of the interview and final presentation.
Assign a student to research the top cultural accomplishments for a region and time frame. Define a number of achievements such as "The Top Ten Most Important Chinese Inventions." Direct the child to write about each achievement or invention and present why he considers it important. Encourage students to apply critical thinking by describing how it affects life today.