Is it just me or does it seem each year there is less and less time devoted to the subject areas of science and especially social studies? It seems I always have to get creative with somehow working that in. Since I can’t follow students outdoors and teach them during recess or lunch or home (who would want to!), I have to figure out a way to mix it in other subject areas. You know, the infamous “integrate it” without any explanation or resources how!
Besides doing our travel journals, I decided the best way to integrate social studies was through an engaging writing research project! We were studying the regions of the U.S. and then ended that study with students each picking one U.S. state that they wanted to explore a bit further.
I provided my students with a large (because they still write big in third grade!) graphic organizer with all the information they needed to collect and An America the Beautiful book related to their state. (I always go to the library and check out each state that each student has. These books are consistent in set up, style, and information. They NEVER leave my classroom. After writing is over, they place their writing materials inside the cover of the book and we stack them on the counter. I use books because I think it’s important that students understand how to take notes and use a nonfiction text for information. We also use some internet resources.)
(I apologize for the student sample picture quality, but I wanted you to see it in a student’s handwriting too. Plus, I’m still trying to master that whole photography thing. You don’t realize just how difficult picture editing is until you have to use them in blogs, etc! HA!)
I walk students through various lessons to help them find interesting places to visit in their state, the climate, the state symbols, manufacturing and natural resources, and some fun facts. We even discuss citing our sources.
After we have completed our research phase we then start the writing piece. I model for students how to take our notes and convert them into nicely written paragraphs. We discuss using good voice, word choice, and examples to support our information. We create informational text features such as illustrations, a table of contents, and a nice cover.
Then we take a piece of posterboard and cut it into the shape of a t-shirt. Students have to decorate it based on the information and fun facts they learned about their state. I let them get creative- they can add any materials they want – but they MUST have captions explaining what they placed on it. (In the picture above, the student outlined it in sand!).
I definitely got some creative posters! I even had one student take an actual t-shirt and decorate it!
Ultimately, it was one way that I was able to integrate a little social studies into my writing lessons (and reading too, technically!).
If you want the step by step lessons for this entire project, it can be found here in my store! I’ve included very detailed rubrics to make it easier on you too! Otherwise, it’s pretty easy to set up yourself – and fun, too.