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Social Studies Project Ideas for 6th Grade

Instructor: Symantha O'Byrne
Projects are a mainstay in social studies because they offer a fluid way to combine the multiple disciplines covered in social studies classes. These projects focus on three main disciplines: history, economics, and geography, but they offer connections to other disciplines as well.

Why Social Studies Projects?

For many students, 6th grade social studies is the first time they get to study people and places completely different than themselves. Students are excited to learn about new and interesting people and places and using projects in the classroom can keep the learning fun and exciting. Projects can also help students make connections between different social studies disciplines, between different cultures and to their own lives. These projects can be assigned to groups or individuals, and the products can be pen and paper or digital.

To Market! To Market! (Economics)

Goal: Students will demonstrate an understanding of the economic relationships between countries in a region.

Objective: Students will create a 'stall' which represents the resources, products, and economic system of one country; all the countries in the region will form a 'market' in which the countries interact.

Materials:

  • Access to research materials (Internet, library)
  • Art supplies (Poster board, construction paper, markers, crayons, scissors)
  • Digital space for collaboration (optional)

Process: Divide students into groups so that each group will have one of the countries that you want to include in your market. Students will research the natural resources of the country, as well as major imports and exports. They will also research the economic system and understand where it falls on the continuum between command and market. They will present this information in their 'stall' by creating visuals that let a visitor quickly identify:

  • Their country
  • Its natural resources
  • Its products (exports)
  • Products they need (imports)

Before 'market day', groups will write about their market day expectations. This can be a formal or informal writing but the goal is for students to identify what they bring to the 'market' and what they need to get from the market, and that they will need to interact with a country that has what they need and wants what they have. They should also be able to discuss whether they represent the government (in an economy closer to command) or private owners (in an economy closer to the free market) or some combination of the two. The last piece of the writing should be completed after market day and should be a reflection on the success and challenges they had in the market.

Market Day

There are choices as to how to facilitate 'market day'

  • Students can decorate their desks as stalls and can go from stall to stall looking to purchase or trade for resources
  • They can create their stalls digitally and put them all together in a virtual market (using Google Slides) and then visit each 'stall' to trade or buy resources

Talking Heads (History)

Goal: Students will explain the historical significance of key figures.

Objective: Students will design and create a timeline or map of historical figures. The project will include images, biographical information, historical significance, and a connection to at least one other historical figure included in the project

Materials:

  • Access to research materials (Internet, library)
  • Art supplies (colored pencils, crayons, markers)
  • Copies of pictures of historical figures (optional)
  • Map of region (optional)

Process: Provide students with a list of notable historical figures that you have studied recently (you may also want to include groups of people if appropriate, such as 'serfs' or 'factory workers').

Students will research basic biographical information about each figure (can be presented in a bulleted list). The person's significance (the reason why they're included in this activity) should be presented as a series of 'I' statements in a speech bubble next to the person's head. The final statement in the speech bubble should connect this person to another person in the project. Give students sentence starters to encourage them to identify these connections:

''I was influenced by…''

''I influenced...''

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