Social Studies Games for 5th Grade

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Social Studies is one of the most exciting and engaging topics for fifth graders if it is taught properly. This lesson gives you some ideas for games to play to teach your students history and geography.

Why Social Studies Games?

Social Studies can be a great subject for fifth graders. At this age, students are ready to think abstractly and conceptualize things that happened long ago and far away. Too often, social studies is taught only through textbooks and rote learning activities that do not engage students in what can be a great opportunity to think critically and get excited about the world around them. By playing games with students, you help them see that learning social studies can be fun. The games in this lesson are designed to help you work on history and geography with your fifth grade students.

History Games

History involves studying the past and learning about where we came from and what events have happened in different time periods. History is an important part of social studies, and these games will help you bring history to life with your fifth graders.

Timeline Yarn

It can be difficult for children to visualize things that happened at different times in history. Take a ball of yarn and have your students stretch it along the length of your classroom. Explain that one tip of the yarn represents the present. Ask them to work in teams to figure out ways to divide the yarn to show where different historical periods they know about belong. Then, have each team present and justify their division.

Role Plays

Role plays are one of the best ways to involve students in real consideration of life in different times. Assign each student a character from the period of history he is focusing on, and ask him to research that character's possible life. Try to balance characters according to race, gender, and socioeconomic status, as well as age. Dedicate a day to letting students role play their characters and then reflect on the experience.

Put It in Order

Team your students up and give each team ten to fifteen index cards, with one historical event or period on each card. Ask students to work together to put their cards in order according to chronology. The team that finishes accurately first wins the game.

Historical Games

When you are studying a particular time period with your class, do some research into sports and games that were played during that time. Teach your students about these games and give them opportunities to play them. This will give them a sense of things children have done in the past and it will also help to bring the time period to life in a different way.

Geography Games

Geography is the study of the earth and where things are located in relation to one another. Fifth graders need practice working with maps and globes and learning geographic terms. These games will help your fifth graders learn geography while still having fun.

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