I Love Social Studies!

I love teaching Social Studies.  Unfortunately, I have about five minutes per day to do this, what with all of the required reading, writing, math, lunch, shoe tying, nose bleeds, tattling, one or two accidents, scraped knees, and recess.  Nevertheless, I LOVE it!

We have been working on our American Symbols unit the last couple of weeks.  I like to begin before September 11th so that my kiddos have at least some understanding of how great America is, even if they have no clue what September 11th means.  This year, it is taking me forever to get through the six symbols that my team is choosing to cover.  I think it has something to do with teaching math after lunch and/or I am twiddling my thumbs too much.

Our Social Studies curriculum is . . . oh . . . kay.  It's a really big textbook and the kids love looking at all of the pictures.  But as far as the American Symbols go . . . it's about one page with four pictures, some captions, and a paragraph.  And then I am supposed to be able to check off this standard and move on.

No thank you.  I may do that when it comes to teaching Matter in Science (yes, that's right, I said it) but I can't do it with Social Studies!  

Scholastic had these great Welcome books for super cheap and you can also find them HERE at Amazon.  These books are great -- very easy for first graders to understand.  And I created these little worksheets to go with them.  Disclaimer:  there was no Lincoln Memorial book so I have to check one out from our school library.  Sorry about that.  If I could fix that, I would.  Also, the White House does not copy that well - the windows and some other fine lines disappear.  But I actually like that because the kids enjoy drawing all of the windows and fine lines.  Well, some of them do.  Click the pic to grab all six symbols.
Now, if you've been reading my blog for awhile now, you know the technology at my school is still up and coming.   I have my best friend, TODD, (terribly old decrepit dinosaur aka THE OVERHEAD) so I make transparencies and we fill in the blanks together.  You could be wondering why I don't have the kids do a free write or something.  And I'm just of the mind that Social Studies is Social Studies time and I don't want my struggling writers to become frustrated during this time.  Also, I want the kids to like me the best.  And I guess I believe it's about the content, too.  Filling in the blanks together gives me a chance to go over consonants, vowels, patterns, endings, etc.  I usually spell it a letter at a time and the kids echo me.  If I'm feeling really hyper, I will say the letters in low or high voices or baby voices or monster voices or . . . well, I think you get it.  Then the kids color and draw the background.  I took some photos of some of their work but I don't have a Statue of Liberty pic to show you.  That bums me out!  The Welcome book has a terrific picture of the statue with the New York skyline in the background so I teach my kids how to add that.  They turn out fantastic.  But that was our first day and I have long since sent those home before I decided that maybe someone would want to do this.
I used to make this into a book for the kids at the end.  But that was about 10 kids ago and now that they have multiplied, I cannot wade through the paperwork.  Or the poking.  Or the child saying that I haven't stapled their book yet.  Or the poking.  I thought about compiling it into a book before I began the unit, but I am also a control freak and I don't like my kids seeing things before they're supposed to.  Front loading only takes me so far.  I need a little bit of suspense.  Obviously, do whatever you like in your classroom.  I'll try to refrain from bossing you around.

If you need/want/must have an assessment, you can get it HERE.

PS:  I am giving you fair warning.  It's possible that when you're discussing the Lincoln Memorial, your kids will want to know if Abraham Lincoln is dead.  And then if you redirect the discussion and move on to happier things, another student may raise his hand.  And this could be your best and brightest student so you call on him because you just know he's going to tell you that the Lincoln Memorial is on the backs of pennies.  But I am warning you -- he may just want to tell everyone that Michael Jackson is also dead.  There.  You've been warned.

I am a tad bummed that I will not be watching The Bachelor Pad or The Bachelor tonight.  I hear Dancing with the Stars is on but . . . well . . . Oh man!  I guess I have to confess that there is ONE reality  show I do not watch.  I prefer So You Think You Can Dance (or SYTYCD for us mega fans) over DWTS any day.  But seeing as how I am all caught up on my Real Housewives from Beverly Hills, Toledo, New Jersey, Gallup, and Reno, I just MIGHT watch it.  We'll see.   HO HUM.  


  1. How come I NEVER know when the new Bachelor/Bachelorette starts?? Who is the new Bachelor!? That's it, I'm googling it!

  2. Thanks for sharing these great activities!

  3. I LOVE SYTYCD! I just can't get in to Dancing with the stars because it doesn't live up to the amazing dancers on So You Think You Can Dance :)

  4. Just downloaded these. They're great. What is the name of the font that you used? I love it. Thanks.

  5. I found these books last year and I love them. Great idea to do with them. Thanks for sharing!

  6. LOL - I don't watch Dancing either! Can't stand it, actually!

    Love your whitehouse, thanks! :) Okay so I teach half day kinder and among all the teaching how to read and write and do math, there is NO time for Social Studies or science!!! So... I have the kids do it for homework! On Mondays, I'll do short (we're talkin' 3 mins!) read aloud, then assign the "sharing homework" for the week. Sharing homework is writing one sentence (2 in the 2nd trimester and 3 in the third) about our "topic of the week" - ALL the topics have to do with Social studies or science standards. For example, the life cycle of an apple is this week and community workers was last week. The kids have a different day to turn in their sharing (red table due tuesday, green table due wednesday and so on) so for the last 10 minutes of our day I'll try to get in a quick read aloud about the topic again, then bring up the students to share the topic. Kids actually come up with cute things to say! And it's great "oral language" grading! I use this for homework grades, writing practice, and oral language! YAY! :)

  7. thanks sweet chick!! I downloaded these! I have all of those books and I agree that they are just awesome!

  8. Thank you so much! We just started this unit and I was looking for something when I stumbled on yours! (if you ever add Uncle Sam please post!) We have to include him but there isn't much out there!

    Thanks again!

  9. You are a riot to read. Love these, thanks! Can I ask what font that is?
    Finally in First

  10. Hi Kristin,
    I know you already made a speech... but I'm giving you the Versatile Blogger award too. :)
    Funky First Grade Fun

  11. You're my favorite teacher blogger! For real! And forever I have wanted to start a blog called "Like Michael Jackson?" because he comes up about once a day in an elementary school classroom. So lol lol lol that you mentioned how a Lincoln discussion would lead to MJ. So true. You rock.

  12. Great post! Thank you for sharing. Love your blog too!

  13. Thanks so much! I will be using this soon :) You crack me up...

  14. Hi Kristin! I've been following for a few months now and love your blog.

    I also love your American Symbols Unit! When I tried to download tonight I got a message saying it was archived and I could only download if I upload a document of my own or pay a $9.00 subscription fee. (I use google docs on my blopg to upload all of my documents.)

    Anyway, I was just wondering if there was any other way to get this unit. If not, I will have to find some time to upload something to Scribd.

    primary practice

  15. Hey Kristin, thanks so very much for getting back to me! This is a perfect addition to my American Symbols Unit Study. So happy to have it!
    primary practice

  16. Hi Kristin,

    Thanks so much for sharing these... but I am also having the same trouble as Patricia did. I was hoping to get a copy of them as well if you are willing. It would be perfect for our 2 weeks of American symbols. Thanks so much!

    Kristen (krgr02@hotmail.com)

  17. I am a student teacher from Florida and found your blog via Pinterest! I have already become a follower after seeing all of your amazing ideas! I would like to use these sheets for our American symbols unit coming up, but am having the same difficulties as some others with scribd. Is there an alternate way to get the document? Thanks so much!

  18. I love the symbols - can you please send it me?? Thanks, Michelle (First grade in Alcalde)