One of the best sources for easy, hands-on social studies activities is the History Pockets series of books. These books provide many ideas for history activities without much planning or preparation for the teacher. Each title in the series is packed with projects, which are all meant to be photocopied for every student. Best of all, most of the completed projects are flat so they can be stored in the students’ History Notebooks. The series consists of several titles for Grades 1-3, and then more titles for Grades 4-6.
Each book concentrates on one historical theme, and that main topic is then divided into several specific areas, such as Daily Life, Government, Religion, etc. In each of these areas you will find several projects that will fit into a “Pocket” made from folded construction paper. The Pockets are then hole-punched and bound together with string or ribbon to create a Pocket Book.
It is also an option to simply pick out several of the suggested social studies activities without making any pockets. Since the projects are not bulky, students could easily store individual ones in their own History Notebooks. However, even if you make the Pocket Book as instructed, it could still be put in a notebook with the same punched holes that were meant for binding the book together.
To give you a general idea of what each History Pocket book includes, let’s take an in-depth look at the Ancient Greece book for Grades 4-6. The activities start with decorated Facts pages, a Map activity, and a Timeline that is ready to cut out and assemble. The Timeline guides the students with illustrations and captions to add information as they progress. You will also find writing activities, creative booklets to put together and decorate, and plenty of low-fuss crafts. In this book, the crafts include making a Hoplite Shield, an Alexander the Great banner, Mosaic (paper) tiles, a booklet of Olympian gods, Greek coins, and more. The instructions for Knucklebones tells you first how to make the game and then how to play it.
This book is about 100 pages long, and most of those pages are meant to be photocopied for student use, giving you lots of ideas to choose from. The Greek book has instructions for 9 separate Pockets with activities on a different theme of Ancient Greece, including Daily Life, Religion, Military Power, Art & Architecture, Government, Sports & Entertainment, and more.
If you are looking for social studies activities for your classroom, you will want to see all the ideas in the History Pockets books. Your students can be actively engaged in your historical topic by making these creative projects. The books give a wide selection of crafts and save the teacher from excessive preparation time. This is a resource you will want to add to your history lesson plans.
Carol Henderson maintains an eStore of Teacher Resource Books available as downloadable PDF files. She also has a separate website to provide History Resources for social studies teachers.