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There is definitely more than one way to teach social studies. Many teachers focus on lessons that focus on American culture as well as some European countries—many of which are the origins of culture in America. These are all good social studies lesson ideas. But there are many more.
Social studies is a broad topic to be taught for only one class. Thus it is up to the teacher (or, most likely, the schools curriculum) to make the best of the time he or she has with his or her students. Someone will have to decide what part of social studies should be focused on. Thus social studies lesson ideas require thought and creativity on the part of the teacher (or the design of the curriculum). However, no matter what the curriculum, there are always social studies lesson ideas that can improve upon the lessons and make social studies more exciting for the students.
Some social studies lesson ideas include integrating other languages and cultures:
One social studies lesson idea is to focus on Native American tribes in your class lessons. Most children have little knowledge of the American Indians and there are many things about American Indians that are good for them to know—not just to be taught a lesson about a culture other than their own—but so they can appreciate the Native Americans who still reside in America—on reservations, in larger cities, or in more rural areas. Even in major cities there are Native American institutions that still hold powwows—you might suggest your students attend a powwow.
There are other social studies lesson ideas that involve rituals like dancing—as the Native Americans do. There are indigenous tribes of people all over the world. Thus another social studies lesson idea would be to introduce the class to the traditions of such tribes. Then have the children name some of the rituals and other traditional aspects of American life. For homework that night, have the students write an essay about that particular culture you studied that day in comparison to American culture. How do they differ? How are they similar? Which way of life would the student prefer to live? Do the students believe that other ways of life have advantages compared to American life (or, “civilized” life)? What are those advantages?
In social studies lesson ideas another good suggestion is to bring in whatever materials you can get your hands on such as photographs, art or handmade items from that culture for selling and trading, musical instruments or recordings of the music in the native tongue of the culture you are studying. In these social studies lesson ideas I would also like to suggest the advantages of finding a video or DVD to the class so that they can visualize the rituals of other cultures such as dancing and harvesting and cooking, and also hear some of the language of that culture.
I hope these social studies lesson ideas will help you to develop your own social studies lesson ideas in the future. We want the students to understand as much about the world and its diversity as we can.
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