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National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS)

Grades
K to 12
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The mission of National Council for the Social Studies is to provide leadership, service, and support for all social studies educators. ...more
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The mission of National Council for the Social Studies is to provide leadership, service, and support for all social studies educators.

In the Classroom

Within the Classroom Resources section of this website to look for free lesson plans and classroom activities. The lessons are organized by grade level, so be sure to pass it along to peers in other grade levels. Save this one as a favorite to allow for easy access and retrieval.

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The Big Wide World Webquest - The Museum of Television & Radio

Grades
2 to 6
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This site pulls together understanding of environment, geography, the earth and its setting in space, cultures, animals, and more. It forms a "core" for what social studies (and science)is...more
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This site pulls together understanding of environment, geography, the earth and its setting in space, cultures, animals, and more. It forms a "core" for what social studies (and science)is all about. To figure out how the "Big Wide World" works, students will work with partners to investigate one area of the world (globe, plants, people, cultures, language, animals) and come up with rules about how this area works. The individual areas join with other areas and determine how the areas relate to each other. A teacher guide included. Active X is required on some website links.

tag(s): animals (309), cultures (108), environment (323)

In the Classroom

Use this Webquest to introduce the connections between major social studies and science concepts. After students work in groups to investigate the different areas, bring the class together to share. Guide a class discussion to show how the different areas are linked and work together. Use the Relationship Wheel (see Teacher Guide) as a bulletin board to support understanding. The site information says it can be used in grades K-4, but non-readers cannot do the tasks without a reader! For independent workers, it is better suited (and quite applicable)for grades 2-6.

If you do this at the start of the school year, you can revisit the overarching connections as you begin study of each sub-area so you are connecting to prior knowledge every time. Teachers in later grades could even recall the overarching questions as they continue with the study of these topics. Be SURE to put the link on your teacher web page for students to revisit throughout the year.

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My Hero - My Hero Project

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K to 12
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Looking for an online project-based interactive website that encourages literacy and cross-cultural communication? Looking for an alternative culminating project or process writing...more
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Looking for an online project-based interactive website that encourages literacy and cross-cultural communication? Looking for an alternative culminating project or process writing project for your secondary classes? Trying to help your high school juniors and seniors create an interesting college "essay" or portfolio piece? Join other adults and children from around the world by adding your essay, artwork or video about a hero on this non-profit, ad-free web site. You and your students can use this site with basic word processing knowledge -- or take it further if you are more technically capable.Site registration is required. Site is available in Spanish. Flash, Acrobat Reader and Quicktime are required. Get them from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

tag(s): gifted (90), heroes (23), writing (369)

In the Classroom

Be sure to visit the Teacher's Resource section for helpful hints and links. Use any word processing program to type essays, then copy and paste into the My Hero class page. Provide a link to the class page on your teacher web page so students, parents, and relatives can read the essays. As always follow your district policies regarding posting student work on the Internet. It is HIGHLY advisable to get written parent permission for such a project!

Very young students could work together as a class to write their entry. Older students and those with more technology available will definitely want to try the videos! If you know iMovie or Windows Moviemaker, this is a terrific project. It is well-suited for gifted students, as well.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Journey North Mystery Class - Journey North

Grades
2 to 9
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Teach about the earth and seasonal change as you solve a real mystery. This unique international "hide and seek" activity is interactive, easy to use, and free! The challenge ...more
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Teach about the earth and seasonal change as you solve a real mystery. This unique international "hide and seek" activity is interactive, easy to use, and free! The challenge begins the last week of January and continues throughout May. Each week, students are given a clue to try to locate a "Mystery Class" from somewhere around the world. All clues are seasonal and some include sunrise and sunset times. The site includes standards in science, math and geography. The site provides lesson plans, interactive activities, video clips and more. Registration is free for this 11-week adventure or you can use the resources at the website with no registration necessary. Flash is required for some of the activities.

tag(s): data (158), seasons (37), sun (70), time (139), time zones (8)

In the Classroom

Make this "hide and seek" adventure a weekly highlight in your social studies or science class. It is ideal if you are studying geography or seasons. Use an interactive whiteboard or projector to make this a class activity, but be sure to include the link on your teacher web page for students to share at home. Be sure to check out the Teacher info and "Resources and Activities" page to find lesson plans, interactive games, standards and more.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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European Explorers - Jim Cornish

Grades
3 to 6
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This simple website (created by Jim Cornish, 5th grade teacher), provides information on explorers from England, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and more! This website provides a great...more
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This simple website (created by Jim Cornish, 5th grade teacher), provides information on explorers from England, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and more! This website provides a great deal of information on over 15 famous European explorers. There is also a "teacher resources" link. Lesson plans are provided at the "teacher resources" link. This teacher always creates good activities, even though the pages are plain and simple.

tag(s): explorers (64), vikings (10)

In the Classroom

Assign each student in your class a different explorer and send the entire class to this website. Or use a projector and interactive whiteboard to model research as a class project before turning them loose.

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Flash Earth

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K to 12
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You may be familiar with Google Earth but may not have the ability to install their free software on your computer, either because you are not permitted to or because ...more
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You may be familiar with Google Earth but may not have the ability to install their free software on your computer, either because you are not permitted to or because your computer is not powerful enough to handle it. Try Flash Earth for a simpler tool to explore the earth as you teach geography to any age from kindergarten to seniors. Perhaps you just want to quickly show which way the Conestoga wagons crossed the U.S., or maybe to show where in the world a current events story is taking place. This simple tool, on a projector or interactive whiteboard, is just the trick. Note: You MUST have FLASH on your computer.

tag(s): globe (15), maps (295)

In the Classroom

Use a projector or whiteboard to share a location as art of the background knowledge for a lesson. Be sure to add this link to your teacher web page as a reference tool, as well. Be aware that some world locations have much "fuzzier" satellite images than others. Always preview before your lesson to be sure you can show the features you want students to see. Show elementary students where their "neighborhood" is, perhaps even their streets!

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Maps and Map Skills - Jim Cornish

Grades
K to 12
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This extremely useful website provides links to numerous maps. There are maps of every continent, the world, political maps, physical maps, time zone maps, map activities, suggestions...more
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This extremely useful website provides links to numerous maps. There are maps of every continent, the world, political maps, physical maps, time zone maps, map activities, suggestions for use in the classroom and more! The best feature of this website is the simple descriptions that are provided with most of the links. Some of the activities require Acrobat Reader. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

tag(s): maps (295), time (139), time zones (8)

In the Classroom

At the bottom of this website, the author includes "map activities for students". All of these activities would be excellent supplemental activities in numerous grade levels.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Virtual Seminars for Teaching English - P. Groves and S. D. Lee

Grades
8 to 12
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This ia a very interesting site for teaching the literature and humanities areas of WWI. You can follow interactive "paths" or create your own path. It highlights several lesser known...more
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This ia a very interesting site for teaching the literature and humanities areas of WWI. You can follow interactive "paths" or create your own path. It highlights several lesser known British poets and photographers from that time period and contains some things found nowhere else on the 'net. Some of the archives include media components, such as video. History teachers may want to use some of these materials to familiarize students with the culture of the times.

tag(s): literature (273), poetry (221)

In the Classroom

This could be used very easily as part of a webquestor web scavenger hunt. You could also use it in the classroom on a projector or whiteboard to show different elements or types of war poetry. Make sure you have the correct plug-ins if you are using video portions.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Trading Card Maker - BigHugeLabs.com

Grades
4 to 12
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Create photo trading cards using images you upload or store on Flickr. Imagine having your students create study aides about famous people using images they draw and scan or photos...more
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Create photo trading cards using images you upload or store on Flickr. Imagine having your students create study aides about famous people using images they draw and scan or photos of themselves impersonating the famous people, such as presidents, explorers, authors, and more. If you celebrate reading by having an "author's tea," why not follow up by asking students to make trading cards for the authors they "met"? Use a similar approach for famous historical figures or even for geometric shapes you photograph with the digital camera. If students write their own "biographies" of the shapes to study from, they will learn for sure! They can even trade each other for favorites.

tag(s): book reports (39), famous people (23), images (274)

In the Classroom

Upload and tag your photo, type information, and print cards. Download finished card to your computer. Use for book reports for literature circles with each student in the group making a card for a different character in the book. This is also an excellent idea for special occasions for special people: mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, school nurse, school secretary, school custodian, favorite aunt, or anyone else! Be sure to print onto cover stock and laminate (if possible). What fabulous (and memorable) gifts. Check out the Big Huge Labs educator account. Easily pre-register students to avoid creating logins, view and download their creations, and view the site advertisement free. You will find information about the Educator Account here.

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World Flag Database - Graham Bartram

Grades
3 to 12
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Users can find any flag in the world in this well-updated database. To search for a specific country's flag, simply click on the first letter of the country and thumbprint ...more
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Users can find any flag in the world in this well-updated database. To search for a specific country's flag, simply click on the first letter of the country and thumbprint flags from all countries beginning with that letter come up. Besides coming to a full sized representation of the flag, readers also see important statistics such as religion, currency, and languages as well as important organizations the country belongs to such as the U.N. In one click, a contextual map of the country comes up.

tag(s): flags (22), maps (295), statistics (126)

In the Classroom

This is an easy-to-use fast reference tool for students. The site also sells flags, but you can ignore the sales portion. If your students do country reports, this is a one-stop site for them to find their country's flag. Perhaps they can use these ideas to design a flag for their own mythical country as part of a unit on government.

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Wikipedia: List of Faux Pas

Grades
6 to 12
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Although this site is a wiki and therefore editable by anyone who chooses to change the content, it highlights the differences between cultures and how people interpret behavior. Find...more
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Although this site is a wiki and therefore editable by anyone who chooses to change the content, it highlights the differences between cultures and how people interpret behavior. Find out about what is considered "good" and "bad" etiquette in places all over the world. Perhaps your students would even like to write their own additions? It is worth mentioning to your secondary students that the authorship of wiki content is unknown and would therefore be unacceptable as an "academic" source.

tag(s): cross cultural understanding (122), cultures (108)

In the Classroom

Use this as a discussion-opener in your world language or world cultures class. If you put the Faux Pas wiki up on a projector or allow your students to explore it, assigning each group to find one thing that is perfectly acceptable in your home country but considered offensive in another, you can then discuss the differences one needs to consider in learning the language or history of that country. As a a follow-up in a world cultures class, ask students to write up their own etiquette guide for their school or home town.

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Totem Poles - Pat Kramer

Grades
4 to 8
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Learn the basics and debunk the myths about totem poles using the site created by a "transplant" to the Pacific Northwest. Although the write is also selling a book, ...more
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Learn the basics and debunk the myths about totem poles using the site created by a "transplant" to the Pacific Northwest. Although the write is also selling a book, there is significant information, and the photos are helpful in understanding the iconography of totem poles.

In the Classroom

If you use the site with elementary children, you may want to let them partner-read some of the longer text portions. Use this site as part of a unit on indigenous peoples of the Americas, then have the students create their own totems in an authentic way. Art teachers may want to use this as an inspiration for a totem-like project in clay, wood, or other materials. The connections to oral history are fascinating and can lead to lengthy discussion in a history class about how we "know" what we say happened before written history.

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Collapse: Why Do Civilizations Fail? - Annenberg Media

Grades
6 to 12
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This site looks at the collapse of several ancient civilizations and suggests why these civilizations did not last. The text is easy to read and is highlighted by learning ...more
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This site looks at the collapse of several ancient civilizations and suggests why these civilizations did not last. The text is easy to read and is highlighted by learning activities and games that illustrate the issues under discussion. Featured civilizations include the Maya, Mesopotamia, the Anasazi of North America and the West African societies of Mali and Songhai. The strength of this site is its suggestion that there are commonalities that help us understand the collapse of a society. There are web links to further resources, and a summary featuring Percy Shelley's poem "Ozymandias", a nice literary connection. There are "hands on" activities scattered throughout, many including cross-curricular links to science or literature.

tag(s): gifted (90), mayans (13), mesopotamia (6), nasa (37)

In the Classroom

This site gives good concrete information, but its real power is in the greater consideration of the rise and fall of civilizations through history. This is a VERY thought-provoking collection of resources. Teachers interested in tying this discussion to current events might discuss the future of civilization in Iraq considering the criteria for maintaining a society given in this site. Use this site as a learning center or station during a unit on ancient civilizations' collapse. This site could be specifically tailored to teach about Mesoamerican cultures as three of the 4 ancient civilizations were located in South America. To make that simpler, we recommend creating a guide for students through a website such as Graphic Organizer Maker, (reviewed here). This would be a great resource for a World History classroom! Teachers of gifted could also use this site as the basis for a great social studies unit. If you own the old favorite computer game Civilization, you could put together some scenarios using that, as well.

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BBC Schools Online: World War One - BBC

Grades
9 to 12
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This site contains a number of activities and Flash-enabled simulation games centered on World War One. Students can choose various weapons and try to win a mission, listen to ...more
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This site contains a number of activities and Flash-enabled simulation games centered on World War One. Students can choose various weapons and try to win a mission, listen to eyewitness accounts, and discover various roles played by those on the homefront. There are also lesson plans for teachers. The site is clearly designed for use in British schools and comes from the British viewpoint, but could be very useful in American classrooms as well. Because our country was not part of the war theatre, it can be hard to imagine the war's impact. This site more clearly shows the impact.

In the Classroom

The simulation games and other visual activites would work well on an interactive white board.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Japan In-Depth - Japanese National Tourist Organization

Grades
6 to 12
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This site gives a very clear overview of major components of ancient Japanese culture. The page is separated into a wide variety of subsections including architecture, shrines, religious...more
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This site gives a very clear overview of major components of ancient Japanese culture. The page is separated into a wide variety of subsections including architecture, shrines, religious observations, clothing, art, floral design, theatre and dance. Each section links to simple line-drawings with an explanation of the significance of each cultural component.

tag(s): japan (60)

In the Classroom

The simple explanations and illustrations would be great for use with an interactive whiteboard, and would provide a nice supplement to a study of Japanese culture or while reading Japanese folk tales or Japanese-American literature.

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American Experience The Gold Rush - PBS

Grades
6 to 12
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From a PBS American Experience episode on the Gold Rush, this site includes a good timeline for the Gold Rush, transcripts of interviews concerning the immigrant contribution to settling...more
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From a PBS American Experience episode on the Gold Rush, this site includes a good timeline for the Gold Rush, transcripts of interviews concerning the immigrant contribution to settling California and pursing gold, lesson plans focused on history, economics, geography and civics. There is a nice Flash-powered simulation game in which students can choose a character to navigate the rigors of the Gold Rush. Characters include a Chinese immigrant and a woman.

tag(s): california (26), civil war (143), gold rush (19), immigration (59), lincoln (86), migration (59)

In the Classroom

The Gold Rush era in American history usually gets folded into a discussion of immigration or western expansion. The timeline helps put the discussion into a broader context that includes the Civil War. The simulation game would be a good extension activity for students who master material more quickly, or for students to do at home.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Around the world in 30 minutes - Matt Buchanan

Grades
2 to 5
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Want to teach geography in a painless and engaging manner? This is the lesson for you! The creator provides a narrative that is easily adapted to have students choose countries ...more
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Want to teach geography in a painless and engaging manner? This is the lesson for you! The creator provides a narrative that is easily adapted to have students choose countries around the world (or on a specific continent or in a specific time period) that encourages research as well as creativity.

tag(s): acting (26), continents (49)

In the Classroom

Reading this lesson plan is bound to give you great ideas on how to use it and adapt it for your own needs. This is also a way to get kids interacting with knowledge and using their innate acting skills. Kids love to act! Here's a way to put that talent to practical use in another subject area.

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Fencing in Theatrical Fighting - Daniel Penrose

Grades
8 to 12
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Are you teaching plays that include fencing? Are you students completely unaware of what fencing entails? If you want to teach the basics of fencing to students, even if you ...more
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Are you teaching plays that include fencing? Are you students completely unaware of what fencing entails? If you want to teach the basics of fencing to students, even if you only want to let them know how difficult it is, this is a good site with a lesson plan. It offers direct objectives in 7 75-minute classes (which could be adapted to shorter time periods). You should have access to the 3 different types of fencing equipment (foil, ?p?e, and sabre)and some expertise (or access to some expertise!) in the art. But vastly fascinating for students!

In the Classroom

The lessons are sound and basic. The 3 "further information" links at the bottom of the page no longer work, but it should not be difficult to find similar working URLs on the net for fencing in theater and the movies.

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Native American Nations - Lisa Mitten

Grades
3 to 12
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Find Native American nations' own sites and information in this alphabetical index by tribe(with notes as to most recent updates). ...more
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Find Native American nations' own sites and information in this alphabetical index by tribe(with notes as to most recent updates).

In the Classroom

Use this site as a resource for research papers and projects. Students can search for information about specific tribes or for information that the tribes themselves have put forward. This would be a great resource for a US history class.

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History of the Cherokee - Ken Martin and others

Grades
4 to 12
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This straightforward informational site provides history and images of the Cherokee nation, including important figures, Cherokee law, maps, and events from before European settlers...more
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This straightforward informational site provides history and images of the Cherokee nation, including important figures, Cherokee law, maps, and events from before European settlers until now. The site creator is himself a mixed blood Cherokee.

In the Classroom

Steer clear of the genealogy links. They are either selling something or they do not work. This is a great site for basic background information, such as you could seek with a scavenger hunt.

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