Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Social Studies ROCKS!

Social Studies need not be a dry subject!

Youngest is studying the American Revolutionary War in 5th grade. Yesterday parents were invited to a presentation of what they've learned. I love how my children get to study history so much more "hands-on" compared to the book-learning I experienced in primary school.
I even like the term "Social Studies", which encompasses so much more than the dry historical facts I had to memorize: dates of battles, names of kings and popes. Instead, today's children are learning about society through time, and how that helped form society today.

First there was a Revolutionary War feast: each student prepared a dish from the era -- there were Johnnycakes, War Office Pie, Gingerbread, Apple Pie and homemade hard candy. After the tummies were filled, we watched a Powerpoint slideshow where the students each presented the historic figure they had researched.
Liesl had picked Lydia Darragh, a Quaker housewife who spied on the British and passed crucial information on to the American side (I bet you haven't heard of her before).
They were allowed to pick any historical figure involved somehow in the Revolution: so we heard about generals and soldiers, women and men, whites and a few blacks. There was also an artistic component: each student made a (short) life-sized portrait of their historic character, superimposed on a tracing of themselves on butcher paper.

So let's take a walk down the hallway:
Here's Lydia, of course, and Betsy Ross sewing the flag, Patrick Henry declaring "Give me Liberty or Give me Death", and a fair share of military figures.

My children go to public schools, and we've been really happy with their education for the most part. I do strongly believe in a well-funded public education system -- a country is only as strong as its education system. We have dediated teachers at our local schools as well as wonderful parent volunteers.

One particular teacher who stands out is a teacher Wolfman had in 4th grade. She is a great teacher all around, but her particular passion is Social Studies. 4th grade started with a cave in the classroom : the first assignment was to make a cavemen's tool out of something found in nature: stones, wood, bone --- what a fantastic assignment! Later in the year she had all the children weaving -- yes, and the boys and girls really got into it! "Can we please weave today...please?" Later in the year, they had a reinactment in the gym where the Romans and Celts fought over the British Isles, to the sounds of bagpipes... The schoolyear ended with Colonial America marketplace system -- the students each picked trades, produced goods and traded them in a miniature classroom economy. Wolfman still remembers 4th grade as the BEST year ever: that teacher just ROCKS!!!


Laura said...

I've always wondered: what's a Johnnycake? How odd that a German in Alaska knows the answer and I don't. . .

Naturelady said...

Johnnycakes are pancakes made with cornmeal, and War Office Pie has meat and bread stuffing -- but I have no idea how it got its name...