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Tons of Fun Projects!
You don't have to have a degree in rocket science to come up with great social studies project ideas. In fact, there are many projects for kids to choose from. After reading this article, you are more likely to have a difficult time deciding which project seems the most fun or the best-suited for your topic. In addition to the traditional research report on a topic, there are a variety of ways you can present information gained from their reports to a classroom,
The first part of any social studies project is to narrow your focus. If your assignment is to construct a project based upon ancient Greece, your project will be more successful if you narrow the focus to one aspect -- art in ancient Greece, ancient Greek gods, the Olympics, etc. Sometimes the topic you choose will help you best determine what sort of project will work. For example, if you chose to research ancient Greek art, you might want to create a poster, whereas if you chose to research the ancient Greek gods, perhaps you would rather put on a play.
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1. The Standard Research Report
The standard research report doesn't have to be boring -- especially if you find a topic you are passionate about. Even if your topic has been assigned to you by your teacher, you can still find parts of the topic that are more interesting to you. A standard report starts with taking notes on reference materials found at the library. When performing research, you should start with an encyclopedia. Most good encyclopedias will recommend books on the topic. You may also want to talk with the librarian in the kids' section of your library. Often he or she will have outstanding recommendations for books on your topic.
Once you've obtained the needed research, you can then outline your project and group like research together. For example, going back to the Greeks, if you were researching the history of the Olympics, you might group together information on how the Olympics started, information about the connection to the gods, and information concerning the sports participated in. Your outline might look something like:
II. How the Olympics Started
III. The Olympics and the Greek Gods
IV. Sports in the Greek Olympics
V. The Olympics Today
For each of the outline points, you will see Roman Numerals as the largest general section. These would correspond to sections of your reports. More specific information would be indented and given an A. B. C. -- these will correspond to paragraphs or sub-sections if you have enough information. In a sub-section, you might have further detail, requiring 1. 2. 3. -- in this case, these numbers would correspond to paragraphs.
Once you've outlined your report, and you know what you will be writing, you will sit down and write a draft based upon your outline. You might want to have a parent look over your draft to check for spelling errors. Finally, you will need to write a final draft and add a list of the reference material you used, called a bibliography. In a bibliography, you use the following format:
Author Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. City, State: Publishing Company, Year Published. Pages.
Sometimes, you will use a magazine article for your research. In this case you would write:
Last name, First Name. "Title of Article," Name of Magazine. Date. Pages.
Finally, many individuals use the Internet for research. If your parent allows you to do this, you account for a website by writing:
Last name, First name. "Title of Page," Name of Website. Date. Accessed date. Web address.
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2. The Poster Presentation
Rather than write a report try creating a poster presentation. To do this, you will need poster board in a desired color, construction paper, photocopies or printouts of images, and your own written explanations of each item you are placing on the poster.
For example, if you are undertaking ancient Greek art as your topic, you may have pictures of vases, columns, and statues created by the ancient Greeks. Next, cut each of these images out and paste them to construction paper to make a mat and then paste the mat to your poster board. Your written sections should explain each picture and why it is important to your topic. Don't forget to write a list of the references you used!
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3. The Diorama
Dioramas are fun social studies projects for kids. Traditionally, dioramas were created using shoe boxes and ordinary household objects to depict a scene from history. Now, you can head to your local craft and hobby store and find diorama supplies - and even diorama kits. A diorama is a miniature scene. You can get as creative as you like with this project - just make sure you clean up afterward! Don't forget to write a description of why you chose the scene you chose and what significance it has in history.
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4. The Model
The model is related to the diorama, but while the diorama describes a scene, the model focuses on one building or object. For example, many kids in California schools wind up making models of California Missions during their studies. You can find kits for models at the hobby or craft store, or again you can get creative. Assess what it is you want to build - are you going to build a famous aircraft used in a war? Are you considering building a tee-pee? Whatever you decide to build, make sure you write about why you chose it and what the significance of that item is.
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5. Paper Maché
Paper maché involves placing paper soaked in a solution over a blown up balloon or other object meant to model a specific shape. For example, paper maché is often used for making model volcanos. Sometimes students use paper maché to make landforms, but you're only limited by your imagination on this one. Perhaps you'll want to create a paper maché Mt. Olympus to wow your classmates and teacher.
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6. The Play
A fun option for students who are doing reports on famous figures or are studying biographies is the play. By writing and performing a play with classmates, not only do you get the opportunity to work together (maybe each member does research on a different figure), but you can demonstrate through words and actions your knowledge of the topic. When you write a play, you should know that one typewritten page is equivalent to about one minute. In order to avoid taking up too much class time, you'll probably want your play to be no more than 5-10 pages. Be sure that each member of your play, if you are writing it as a team, has an equal number of parts.
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7. The Interview
There are two variations of the interview project. The first variation involves you actually interviewing a living figure (grandparent, firefighter, etc) about his or her experiences. The second variation involves you imagining the opportunity to interview a historical figure. In both cases, you can either video tape the interview or you can write the most exciting parts of the interview on paper. Alternatively, you can write the interview down, and have a friend pretend to interview you and you can pretend to be the interview subject for presentation purposes.
The most important part of putting together a successful social studies project is the effort you put in. Remember to always try your best to do a great job!
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Hobby Lobby www.hobbylobby.com
Treefrog Treasures http://www.treefrogtreasures.com/SearchResult.aspx?CategoryID=1220
The author's own experience with social studies project ideas was a factor in the creation of this article.
Image courtesy of sxc.hu/gallery/lusi