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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Using Activities that don't require technology in the Social Studies Classroom

Using Activities that don't require technology in the Social Studies Classroom

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What are some of your favorite lessons and/or activities you like to use with your students that don't require the use of technology? Please share some ideas with us. Thank you!

This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

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Allen Berg's picture
Allen Berg
curriculum and projects learning centers

Hi Ron,
Thank you for posting your question, it is a good opportunity to share a fun project with the Social Studies Group...

Designing a Community Park PBL

(My wikispace has some photos and real city parks links)

1.Good Neighbors: Landscape Design and Community Building

This 10 minute video is a presentation of the National Park Service highlighting the Frederick Law Olmsted Historic Office and Community Park near Boston. It follows a class of 3rd graders visiting the office and park to study, design, and create models of their own community parks. It is an excellent resource for teachers to view, however the tone of the narration limits the classroom audience to early primary school children.

2.Community Park Plan Webquest (good for high school)

This is an excellent complete outline for implementing a class project based on teams of four students (with specific roles, tasks, and group cooperation), for each team to design and create a model community park. It includes specific online resources for each team to budget their proposed facilities with park equipment (playground area, etc.) and public amenities (benches, fountains, etc.), evaluation/assessment charts with checklists, and requirements for a class presentation by each team.

***Important Note For Teachers***
Because this Webquest Site is from 1999, several of the online links are outdated or discontinued. So it is Necessary for You to review all the links Before listing them for your Students, and Exclude those that are Dead Ends or Inappropriate.

3. Designing a City Park

This is also an excellent complete outline for implementing a class project based on teamwork. It has seven specific charts with guidelines and checklists for the park plan, design, and class presentation. There is also excellent background information and curriculum resources.

This project has less rigorous requirements than the above webquest, but all three projects listed here are adaptable to all grade levels K - 12. And of course these projects can be shared with teachers in other groups as well...

"The sky is the daily bread of our eyes." Ralph Waldo Emerson
"And what is the grass? I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven." Walt Whitman


Allen Berg

salenacathcart's picture
sixth grade social studies teacher from South Carolina

I introduce students to the Silk Road by having them set up their own bartering system. They list all the things they own personally and then get with a partner to decide the value of each item as compared with other items (mp3 player + skateboard = Ipod touch). It sounds a little corny, but the conflict involved in setting up their trade equivalents gives them a new appreciation for the logistical challenges along the Silk Road as well as appreciation for how much easier trade is with an established monetary system.

Ron Peck's picture
Ron Peck
H.S. Social Studies teacher from Medford, Oregon.

Thanks for your response. I am going to try that soon. One that I use shows the tax structure and distribution of wealth in Medieval Feudal Europe. Give each student a cup and 10 pennies or make some fake money. Have them put the money in the cup. Select a king, several lords (I use 4 to 8 depending on class size) and the rest are serfs. Get them up out of their seats and explain that they just completed the harvest. The lords then take 8 of the pennies/money for payment. They keep 4 from each cup and give the rest to the king.

When everything is said and done, students can see how the king and lords get very rich while the peasants don't get much. A discussion then follows. A lot of possibilities with the discussion depending on the group.

Have fun with it.


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