Posts Tagged ‘ social studies ’
The Social Studies classroom is built around primary source exploration. The use of primary sources can lead to incredible analysis, discussion, and higher-level thinking. Use the five sources below in your classroom to engage your students and explore new and exciting methods of critical thinking and active learning.
1. Magna Carta
The theme of revolution is very apparent in today’s world. The causes of these revolutions reflect the very same issues that have faced people for centuries: equality and protection of rights. While the Magna Carta was not written with regular folks in mind, it certainly has been used that way throughout history. American revolutionaries used this document from 1215 to reinforce their rights as citizens and subjects of the British crown.
Excerpts of the Magna Carta can be used to analyze modern international and national incidents. Two standout sections that can be used in a modern discussion about Ferguson, Missouri, the Assad regime in Syria, or historical analysis of Stalinist Russia are:
“No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned, disseised, outlawed, banished, or in any way destroyed, nor will We proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.”
“To no one will We sell, to no one will We deny or delay, right or justice.”
Help Teaching’s library of printable worksheets includes a quiz on the English Monarchy that would serve as an apt companion to a Magna Carta discussion.
The rights granted to Americans in the first ten amendments to the Constitution are so influential that they can be used across disciplines. These rights are the basis for so many other successful governments across the world that activities related to this document are easy to find and engaging to teach. The Bill of Rights can be analyzed to help your students think beyond the basics and improve their higher-level thinking. Another resource offered by Help Teaching is an application of the liberties offered in the Bill of Rights.
As he left office, President George Washington was able to encapsulate the conflicts that would soon bubble over in the country he helped to build and protect. This speech gives the students a glimpse into the future of the United States, while also allowing them to engage in critical thinking activities. Students can make inferences and draw conclusions about what may happen next in American history based on Washington’s speech. Help Teaching offers a worksheet that analyzes this historic speech and asks students to compare it to a modern speech given by British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
This document ended a world war and started another. It is directly responsible for the anger and desperation that allowed Adolph Hitler to gain power. The Treaty of Versailles can lead to an engaging lesson on long and short-term effects or the spoils of war, and allow students to hypothesize and experiment with historical events. These activities would be greatly enhanced with a graphic organizer or a KWL chart that organizes their knowledge base and learning objectives into manageable chunks.
The struggle for women’s equality does not garner the same attention as other mistreated groups in many Social studies curricula, but covering the 19th amendment assists the females in the class to take more ownership of the content and exposes the students to women’s issues that still plague the country and the world today. The 19th Amendment can also be used in a larger unit on women’s history. Help Teaching offers a worksheet that can help you to map the unit.
These documents not only had an impact on a specific era, they also connect to so many more events, people, and themes that play a major role in the world today. They also assist teachers in engaging students with critical thinking and higher learning activities. Help Teaching’s library of informational text analysis worksheets will help further your successful implementation of engaging documents in the classroom, For more tips on using graphic organizers with documents, check out Graphic Organizers in the Social Studies Classroom.
21stcentury students are constantly plugged into technology, making it the teachers’ responsibility to use their interests to engage them in the classroom. YouTube gives educators the ability to use a familiar website and an interesting medium to teach about themes and concepts that relate to their subject areas.
While there are thousands of great videos scattered about YouTube, these are ten channels that house a collection that will improve your lessons and your students’ understanding of social studies.
This series, produced by ABC at the turn of the century, breaks down major moments in American history with archived film footage and interviews with participants and regular people who lived through those moments. The small chunks of information make this series an invaluable tool for reinforcing concepts with visual primary sources.
These videos also work well for a world history class, as events like World War II and the Cold War are an important part of that curriculum, too.
These videos give a fast-paced, thorough and entertaining overview of many different topics in history, literature, economics, and other key subjects. You can also find related resources and more easily search some of the videos on the Crash Course website. It’s important to note that most of these videos are not appropriate for elementary and middle school students, but there is a Crash Course Kids series that might be okay.
This channel helps viewers gain a quick overview of key events in history through short, illustrated videos. Each video is narrated and told in a story format to make it more engaging for students.
4. Khan Academy
What makes Twitter and Facebook so popular? Why do kids prefer to text message in code than write in full length English? It’s because they prefer bite sized chunks of information and the movement towards these small doses of content is exemplified by the Khan Academy. Here you will find a huge library of lectures ranging from five to 20 minutes that use relevant and interesting visuals to teach about a specific topic. Wondering what that FICA Tax is that’s taken out of your paycheck? Watch this. Need a quick primer on how communism is different than capitalism? Here ya go.
It is hard to spend time on current events due to time and curriculum constraints, but whenever there is a historical topic that connects to a modern one, we should make it a priority to discuss that connection. For example, the AP has dozens of very short videos on the current situation in North Korea that can be used in conjunction with a Cold War unit.
This channel provides a breathtaking database of presidential speeches and occasions that can accent any lesson in modern American History. From clips of the famous Kennedy – Nixon presidential debates to President Clinton’s take on gun control after the Columbine school shooting, these videos make it simple to enhance an already stellar lesson plan with relevant primary source video.
Search through the playlists available on this channel and marvel at the resources they have compiled. Heartbreaking stories of loss, uplifting stories of love, and everything in between.
I don’t know exactly what to make of this, but it may be the most creative mixture of pop culture and history that I have ever seen. The team at History for Music Lovers rewrites songs from the last forty years of pop music to teach about a historical figure or period. They also film music videos, complete with costumes and plots, to accompany their song parodies.
Watch The French Revolution, as sung to Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance, William the Conquerer set to Justin Timberlake’s Sexy Back, or relive the Eighties with Billy Idol’s Eyes without a Face transformed to The Crusades.
Some of the songs will be before your students’ time, but the effort and creativity on display is sure to break any generational walls.
The Biography Channel on You Tube has endless “mini – bios”, all around five minutes in length; a perfect amount of time to spend on a video clip within a lesson plan.
10. Help Teaching
Help Teaching’s YouTube channel features videos on a range of subjects including social studies. You can also find ad-free versions of the videos on our online lessons page. Best of all, each lesson is accompanied by worksheets to help assess what students have learned.
You Tube may provide students with music videos and clips of teens getting pranked by their friends, but it also can be a tool for learning. Use the channels above to augment your materials and find your own to show students that the web is also a place for education.
March is Women’s History Month. Like other special months, such as Black History Month and Hispanic American Heritage Month, Women’s History Month places an emphasis on the contributions to the history of our world by a particular group of people. We list impactful women you haven’t heard about so you can introduce them to your students.
Also like other special celebratory months, teaching about women’s gifts to humanity should not be limited to March, but included in your regular everyday curriculum.
We are all familiar with many female history-makers — Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman, Marie Curie, Rosa Parks, Florence Nightingale, Hillary Clinton, Serena Williams (there are more resources to teach about famous women listed later in this article) — but there are so many lesser-known women whose accomplishments should be trumpeted. We’ll look at five women you may have never heard of whose contributions to history are significant.
The List of Women You Haven’t Heard About
Finding your way with Gladys West
It’s become a staple of any trip we take. Global Positioning Systems have revolutionized the way we travel. People of a certain age (like me) will recall the days before GPS when we pulled out the road atlas, employed a magnifying glass to see the tiny print, and carefully mapped out a route to our vacation destination. The back of the atlas had a chart listing distance between major cities, but for the obsessive-compulsive among us (also like me), we would attempt to tally up the miles between tiny arrows on the map’s roadways. Invariably, we would lose count and have to start all over again!
Well thanks to Dr. Gladys West, we now can do all that in just seconds with an app on our mobile phones. The work of Gladys West was instrumental in developing the mathematics behind the GPS. She started her career in 1956 as a programmer of large-scale computers at what is now the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Virginia. Just one other black woman and two black men worked alongside her.
Dr. West was also a project manager for data-processing systems used in satellite data analysis. She built altimeter models of the Earth’s shape, managed the first satellite that could remotely sense oceans, programmed a computer to spit out precise calculations to model the shape of the Earth. Dr. West’s data ultimately became the basis for the Global Positioning System.
Born in 1930 in Virginia, West’s family had a small farm, and she had to work in the fields with them. Many of the families around them were sharecroppers. Not satisfied with a life picking tobacco or working in the nearby cigarette factory, she realized education would be the key to her moving up in the world. At her school, people at the top of the class were offered university scholarships, and since her family was poor, she worked hard in her studies to win one to Virginia State College. Eventually Dr. West earned two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. West was inducted into the United States Air Force Hall of Fame in 2018.
In a world dominated by men, Boudica, Queen of the Iceni tribe during the Roman occupation of Britain c. 60 CE, united different tribes in a Celtic military revolt against Roman rule. Queen Boudica led an army of about 100,000 soldiers and succeeded in driving the Romans out of what was then the capital of Roman Britain (now modern-day Colchester), Verulamium and Londinium. Boudica’s success forced the Roman emperor Nero to consider withdrawing his forces from Britain entirely. However, the Roman governor, Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, finally defeated Boudica in a battle in the West Midlands.
Known as the scourge of the Roman Empire, Queen Boudica was a flashy figure. Primary material about her comes from the Roman historians Tacitus and Cassius Dio who describes Boudica as a tall tawny-haired woman whose tresses hung down below her waist. She had a harsh voice and a piercing glare. Dio says she customarily wore a large golden necklace, a colorful tunic, and a thick cloak fastened by a brooch. Her name derives from words in the various Celtic languages for “victorious”.
When Boudica’s husband King Prasutagus died, the Romans took the opportunity to increase their power in western Britain, but Boudica would have none of it. The rebellion was fomented by a Roman assault on Boudica’s people whose homes were pillaged by centurions. The assault included a Roman whipping of Boudica, and the raping of her two daughters, plus the confiscation of the estates of the leading Iceni men. According to Tacitus, Boudica’s inspiring words to her army led them to victory: “It is not as a woman descended from noble ancestry, but as one of the people that I am avenging lost freedom, my scourged body, and the outraged chastity of my daughters.”
Viva la Vera!
Vera May Atkins, CBE (16 June 1908 – 24 June 2000) was a Romanian-born British intelligence officer assigned to France during the Second World War. Among her accomplishments in the war effort was the evacuation of Polish Enigma codebreakers into Romania. These Polish linguists were instrumental in helping the Allies break Nazi Germany’s military secret code which gave them a great advantage on the battlefield. Atkin’s work in German-occupied France was made even more dangerous by the fact that her parents were Jews. Prior to World War II, she also traveled clandestinely throughout Europe gathering intelligence on Nazi Germany for Winston Churchill.
Atkins was a member of the Special Operations Executive (SOE), a branch of British Military Intelligence assigned to train and send agents overseas. At the end of the war, as a member of the British War Crimes Commission, Atkins embarked on a mission to find out what had become of the over one hundred special agents who had not made it back to Britain. She was able to trace all but one. Atkins was given the Croix de Guerre in 1948 and made a member of the French Legion of Honor in 1987.
Warren’s Writings on the War of Independence
The leading female intellectual of the American Revolution and early U.S. republic is hardly remembered today. The published poet, political playwright, satirist, historian, and outspoken commentator Mercy Otis Warren engaged with the leading figures at a time when women were expected to keep silent on political matters. She corresponded often with three presidents: Washington, John Adams, and Jefferson.
Despite having no formal schooling — as was common for women in colonial times — Warren displayed her talent for writing in her poetry, histories of the Revolutionary era, and politically scathing plays published serially in a Boston newspaper. She did more than just write, hosting protest meetings at her home that led to the establishment of the Committees of Correspondence. After independence, Warren was a staunch republican whose Observations on the New Constitution, published in 1788, held forth her opposition to the new constitution because she felt it gave too much power to a central government.
Wall Street’s Siebert
Known as the “First Woman of Finance”, Muriel “Mickie” Siebert was a bold Wall Street broker who was also the first woman to become a member of the New York Stock Exchange. Although she did not have a college degree, Siebert was the first woman to become the superintendent of banking for New York State.
In the mid-1950s, when Siebert moved to New York City from her home in Cleveland, the only women working on Wall Street were secretaries and support staff. Ten years later, after moving from job to job because she was not getting paid the same as men for an equal amount of work and responsibility, Siebert applied for, and eventually bought, to the tune of nearly half a million dollars, a much-coveted seat on the New York Stock Exchange.
Seibert eventually founded her own investment company, and for ten years remained the only woman out of over 1,300 men on the NYSE.
Eventually, Seibert’s financial prowess was recognized by New York’s governor Hugh Carey who appointed her the state’s banking superintendent. She ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1982 and then returned to Wall Street. Despite her success as an investor, she still suffered indignities in the workplace. Even as late as the mid-1980s, there was no ladies’ bathroom on the seventh floor of the New York Stock Exchange building. Threatening to put a portable toilet in the building if there was no bathroom for women, she successfully campaigned to have a proper one installed.
Seibert was recognized for her philanthropic work and was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1994. Her impact on Wall Street was memorialized at the NYSE when a room was named after her marking the first time in the exchange’s 200 year history that a room was named for a person.
Resources for Teaching about Famous Women in History
Help Teaching has created many educational resources for Women’s History Month.
- Rosa Parks (Grade 3)
- Harriet Tubman (Grade 4)
- Equal Rights Amendment (Grade 5)
- Women’s Suffrage (Grade 5)
- Susan B. Anthony (Grade 5)
- Sojourner Truth (Grade 5)
- Marie Curie (Grade 5)
- Amelia Earhart (Grade 5)
- Who is Hillary Clinton? (Grade 5)
- Ida Tarbell (Grade 6)
- Seneca Falls Convention (Grade 6)
- Shirley Chisholm (Grade 7)
- Maya Angelou (Grade 7)
- Queen Victoria (Grade 7)
- Queen Elizabeth I (Grade 7)
- Anne Frank (Grade 7)
- Florence Nightingale (Grade 7)
- Women in WWII: Rosie the Riveter (Grade 7)
- Maya Angelou’s poem “On The Pulse Of Morning” (Grade 8)
- Madam C.J. Walker (Grade 8)
- Women Through History (Grade 8)
- Catherine de Medici (Grade 8)
- Serena Williams (Grade 8)
- People of Peace: Jane Addams (Grade 9)
- People of Peace: Mother Teresa (Grade 9)
- Catherine the Great (Grade 9)
KidsKonnect.com has worksheets and factsheets about these famous women:
- Susan B. Anthony
- Elizabeth Cady Stanton
- Lucy Stone
- Sojourner Truth
- Lucretia Mott
- Harriet Tubman
- Dorothy Height
- Ella Baker
- Malala Yousafzai
- Marsha P. Johnson
- Margaret Thatcher
- Hillary Clinton
- Michelle Obama
- Kamala Harris
- J.K. Rowling
- Beatrix Potter
- Jane Austen
- Agatha Christie
- Frida Kahlo
- Amelia Earhart
- Sally Ride
- Elizabeth Blackwell
- Coco Chanel
- Florence Nightingale
- Joan of Arc
- Queen Elizabeth I
- Anne Frank
- Hellen Keller
- Princess Diana
- Mother Teresa
- Hope Solo
- Althea Gibson
- Michelle Kwan
- Serena Williams
So dive in and learn more about incredible women who’ve shaped each and every aspect of modern life!
Image sourced from Free Library of Philadelphia
One of the best ways to ensure students retain and comprehend historical information is to draw on what they already know. This includes using references from their prior experiences and pop culture. Students may be surprised to see the historical connections in things that are a part of their everyday lives. One great resource to draw from is the stories of Dr. Seuss. Dr. Seuss has penned numerous books, cartoons, and animated stories that have deep historical meaning and applications and they can be tied directly to the social studies curriculum. Below is a sampling of how Dr. Seuss can be included in the social studies classroom. While these activities are designed with social studies in mind, many of them can be adapted for use in the language arts classroom as well.
Political Cartoons: Dr. Seuss Goes to War
Throughout World War II Dr. Seuss inked hundreds of editorial cartoons about the war and American involvement, including scathing depictions of Hitler, Mussolini and other Axis enemies. (Warning: there are numerous stereotypical and racist depictions of non-American combatants that may require a separate lesson or explanation). One method that that would engage students would be to pick out a real life character depicted in the political cartoon and list and describe the character traits Dr. Seuss assigns to him. This asks the students to identify the person in the cartoon and to combine their knowledge of history and understanding of symbolism.
Mutual Assured Destruction: The Butter Battle Book
This story is a satirical look at the Cold War arms race that nearly led to nuclear annihilation, using the Yooks and Zooks as stand ins for the United States and the Soviet Union. The songs, rhyming, and Dr. Seuss style will keep the kids interested, even as they are watching a children’s cartoon from the 1980s. The students will simultaneously follow the story and find parallels to the Cold War, so a Story Map will help them keep track of the action as they watch. This particular organizer also asks the students come up with a solution or ending to the cliffhanger, adding to the interpretive nature of the activity. Another engaging activity uses the Boxes and Bullets graphic organizer which asks the students to write an overriding connection between the Butter Battle and the Cold War, then give three examples to back up their connections, and lastly, to add specific events from history or the story to give depth to their examples.
Psychology: The Cat in the Hat
Every student and teacher knows of The Cat in the Hat, but its uses in Psychology classes may not be as well known. The main characters of the children, the Cat, and the fish each display different characteristics of Freud’s personality components of id, ego, and superego. Teachers can use the Narrative Procedure organizer to chart the examples of each appearance of id, ego, and superego throughout the story. Another method would be to use the Plot Diagram to chart the action of the story as it relates to Freud’s theory.
These cartoons and stories are not just for Social Studies class. The skills that Seuss instills and reinforces travel across curricula, and can be used to meet Common Core Standards. Check out Top Ten Ways to Teach the Common Core ELA Standards for more ways to integrate a great resource like Seuss. However you utilize Dr. Seuss in your Social Studies classroom, it’s clear he will be having an impact on children’s education long after their days of bedtime stories are over.
In the American mind, little is known about the “land down under” when compared to their knowledge of other parts of the world. So here’s where you learn about Australia, Australia Day, and why it’s controversial for some.
Most Americans’ knowledge of Australia is limited to the unusual animals like the kangaroo and duck-billed platypus, Hollywood’s Crocodile Dundee, and “put another shrimp on the barbie”.
But any understanding of Australia Day must begin with knowledge of the colonial history of the country and an overview of how that narrative is intertwined with the culture and history of the first people to settle the continent thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans.
The First People of Australia
Although it is considered among the world’s oldest cultures, Aboriginal Australians have a rich, vibrant, and living culture today. Aboriginal peoples form two groups: those descended from people who already inhabited the continent when Great Britain began colonizing the island in 1788, and the Torres Strait Islander peoples, who are descended from residents of the Torres Strait Islands, part of modern-day Queensland, Australia.
Academics believe there is evidence of complex social behaviors among the native people including cremation, personal ornamentation in the form of shell beads, and long-distance trade. Watercraft were used for some travel by aboriginals to Bali and Timor, and this is thought to be the earliest confirmed seafaring in the world.
Traditional scholarship holds that Australia’s indigenous peoples were hunter-gatherers who did not practice agriculture. Recently, though, some historians and archaeologists have argued that native peoples did use agricultural practices. Despite being nomadic, aboriginals were very much attached to their home territory.
Aboriginal peoples understood the world through interpretation of “the Dreaming” (or “dream-time”), a concept embodying the past, present, and future. This comprehensive belief system includes creation at the dawn of time when supernatural beings made the land with flora, fauna, and humans. These beings also gave rules for social life.
Aborigines make up nearly 800,000 out of a total Australian population of 25 million. Per capita, they suffer higher rates of suicide, alcohol abuse, domestic violence, and incarceration when compared to the general populace. This is the legacy of British colonial rule which decimated the aboriginal population through the introduction of new diseases such as smallpox, measles, and influenza, the acquisition of native lands by British settlers, and direct and violent conflict. It’s estimated that in the ten years following the arrival of the British, the indigenous population was reduced by 90%. Since aboriginal culture connects with the land, the annexation of native lands was particularly disastrous for indigenous peoples.
European Knowledge of Australia
As far back as the 2nd century CE, the Roman mathematician, astronomer, and geographer Ptolemy, despite no observational evidence, hypothesized the existence of terra australis incognita (“the unknown land of the south”). This southern land intrigued medieval European scholars for centuries. From the 16th century, European cartographers and navigators began including this “Australia” on maps, and as sailing technology advanced, it was inevitable that Europeans would eventually reach the continent.
British Arrival in Australia
By the 1700’s, Great Britain was ascending to the place of unrivaled dominance of the high seas. By 1770, Captain James Cook planted the Union Jack on what is now called Possession Island, claiming the eastern half of the continent for the British. On January 26, 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip, commander of the First Fleet of convict ships from England arrived at Sydney Cove to establish the colony of New South Wales. January 26 has become known as Australia Day by the general population, but also as “Invasion Day” by Aboriginal Australians (more about this below).
Through the 1800’s, the British control and colonization of the continent continued rapidly, and this meant persecution of native peoples, including dozens of massacres throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. By 1901, the various British Australian colonies federated to form the Commonwealth of Australia which was given “dominion” status in the British Empire in 1907. By the 1940’s, most of the constitutional ties with the United Kingdom were severed, and the Australia Act of 1986 dissolved the rest. Today, Australia has a federal democratic parliamentary system of government but remains a constitutional monarchy with the British sovereign as a figurehead.
Famous Australians and Their Accomplishments
Daisy May Bates (born Margaret Dwyer in Ireland in 1859) was an Australian journalist, welfare worker, and lifelong student of Australian Aboriginal culture and society. Revered among some aboriginal people, Bates was referred to by the name Kabbarli, or “grandmother.”
Vincent Lingiari (born in 1908) was an Australian Aboriginal rights activist. Early in life he was a stockman at Wave Hill Station, a pastoral lease in the Northern Territory. A pastoral lease, or run, is when Australian government-owned Crown land is leased out for the purpose of livestock grazing. Aboriginal workers were paid only in rations, tobacco and clothing. In 1966, after workers demanded higher pay and improved working conditions, Lingiari led the workers in the Wave Hill walk-off, also known as the Gurindji strike. In 1976, Lingiari was named a Member of the Order of Australia for his services to native aboriginal peoples.
Rupert Murdoch (born in Melbourne in 1931) is an American media mogul and billionaire. He owns hundreds of local, national, and international publishing outlets worldwide, including in the United Kingdom (The Sun and The Times), in Australia (The Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun and The Australian), and in the United States (The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post). He also owns book publisher HarperCollins and television network Fox News.
Germaine Greer (born in Melbourne in 1939) is among Australia’s most controversial authors seen by many as one of the major voices of the radical feminist movement in the second half of the 20th century. Her first book, The Female Eunuch, published in 1970, made her a household name. Greer has also championed the environment. Her book, White Beech: The Rainforest Years, is the story of her efforts to restore part of a rainforest in the Numinbah Valley in Australia.
Emily Kame Kngwarreye (born in Alhalkere country in 1910) one of the country’s most significant contemporary artists. She grew up in a remote desert area known as Utopia. Kngwarreye began painting late in life (age 80), however she was a prolific artist producing over 3,000 paintings in her eight-year painting career. That’s an average of one painting per day. Her work was inspired by her cultural life as an aboriginal elder, and her custodianship of the women’s Dreaming sites in her clan country. She died in 1996.
January 26 is an important date in Australia’s history, but its meaning has changed over time. Australia Day started in 1808 as a celebration for pardoned convicts and gradually developed into a celebration of Australia that reflects the nation’s diverse people. However, for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the date has long symbolized sorrow and mourning.
Opposition to Australia Day
Aboriginal leaders formally met for the first time in Sydney in 1938 to mark a Day of Mourning to protest the mistreatment of native peoples by the British and white Australians. They also were seeking full citizen rights for aboriginal people. 50 years later, many native leaders renamed Australia Day as ‘Invasion Day’. Protests have been held almost every year on Australia Day with some calling it “Survival Day” to emphasize that despite British colonization, aboriginal culture has survived.
Protesters have pushed for treaties between native and non-native Australians and recognition in the county’s constitution. They also want the date of Australia Day to be altered or abolished. Victoria state is working toward a first-of-its-kind treaty with its aboriginal population that would recognize the sovereignty of Aboriginal Australians and include compensation. However, federal Australia itself has never made such a treaty. It’s the only country in the British Commonwealth not to have ratified a treaty with its indigenous peoples.
Changing the Date
For many Australians, January 26 is a symbol of inequity and institutionalized racism. However, a survey by the Institute of Public Affairs says 69% of Australians want the date to remain unchanged.
Several dates have been proposed, including January 1, when the Commonwealth of Australia was born in 1901 and Australia, as one united nation, was created. Some feel, though, that this date change would do nothing to address the unfair treatment of native peoples in the past and present.
Some have argued that Australia’s “National Sorry Day” (observed each year on May 26) should be a new date for Australia Day. National Sorry Day memorializes the mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Another, more tongue-in-cheek, suggestion for a new Australia Day date is May 8. Say the date quickly and you’ve got the word “mate”. Proposers say being a mate can surmount cultural and racial barriers.
Resources for Teaching about Australia
Help Teaching has created many educational resources including
KidsKonnect.com has worksheets on
- Australia Day
- Aboriginal Peoples of Australia
- Australia Facts
- Convicts in Australia
- White Australia Policy
- Australia (Continent)
- Stolen Generation
- Australian virologist Macfarlane Burnet
Check out these free resources from BusyTeacher.org.
- Welcome to Australia (PowerPoint)
- Australian Animals
- Australia: The Upside Down World (PowerPoint)
There are free curriculum resources from Australians Together. Cool Australia has produced 52 lessons that investigate racism, privilege, truth-telling, cultural pride, and resilience. Mr. Donn has produced many worksheets and activities about Australia. In Clarendon Learning’s “All About Australia” lesson plan, students learn Australian history and culture.
The National Museum of Australia has loads of free resources for teaching about Australia. You will find plenty of resources for teaching specifically about Australia’s indigenous population at the Aussie Educator website. ABC Education offers free educational content including videos, digibooks, games and audio lessons about many aspects of Australian history and culture.
Australia is a wonderfully diverse place worthy of study. G’day, Mate!
Image source: Freepik.com
November 15-19 is Geography Awareness Week.
Geography is an integral part of any Social Studies class. Making connections between a region’s geographic features and their history and culture can broaden students’ understanding of history. Some facts about geography will not only add flavor to a social studies unit, but will also wow the students with unexpected answers and fun visuals.
Did you know…
#1. The smallest country in the world is Vatican City at only .2 square miles. The headquarters of the Catholic Church is located entirely in the city of Rome. Vatican City isn’t just the smallest country in land area, it is also the smallest country by population. Only about 600 people live there permanently, almost all of whom are clergy or members of the Swiss Guard, responsible for protecting the Pope.
#2. Unsurprisingly, the largest country in the world is Russia. What you may not know is Russia, with an area of 6,592,735 square miles, is almost twice the size of the second largest country in the world Canada, that comes in at 3,855,081 square miles. Over 60% of the land in Russia is forest, while over 4000 miles of the nation is tundra.
#3. Brazil is 11% larger than the contiguous 48 states of the United States of America. As a matter of fact, Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world. It is so big, that all of non-Russian Europe could fit inside of its borders!
#4. Asia is the largest continent in land area in the world. It is larger than North and South America combined! More people live in Asia (over 4 billion) than the rest of the world’s continents combined (almost 3 billion).
#5. The most common city name in the United States is Franklin, with 31. There are 26 cities in the world with a single letter as its name, two of which are located in America: B, Ohio and Y, Alaska. The original name of Los Angeles was El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río de Porciúncula. Transllated in English it means The Town of Our Lady the Queen of Angels of the Porciúncula River.
#6. Africa includes 54 countries and over 2000 languages spoken. There are over 500 languages in Nigeria alone! The most widely spoken language is Hausa, which is the first language to over 35 million Africans and another 15 million people in other parts of the world.
#7. Canada contains over 300,000 islands, some of which are available for purchase for less than $1 million. The largest of these islands include Vancouver Island and Newfoundland.
#8. About 90% of the world’s population lives in the Northern Hemisphere. The only Southern Hemisphere nations that contain more than 50 million people are Indonesia and Brazil, at 227 million and 192 million, respectively.
#9. The Amazon rainforest represents more than half of the world’s rainforests and produces more than 20% the world’s oxygen supply, contains 20% of all of the world’s plant and birds, and 10% of the world’s mammal species. 10% of the forest has been lost to agriculture in the last 50 years, with some forecasting the loss of the entire rain forest by 2030.
#10. The color red appears on the most national flags with 155. White is a close second with 144, and green is a distant third with 97. Purple appears in only six flags. Some national flags are almost identical due to a shared history. For example, blue, white, and red are common color combinations in Slavic nations, and many African nations use red, yellow, and green.
Use these facts as an introduction to a fun Geography Awareness Week lesson that can include a Fun Fact Scavenger Hunt. Ask your students to locate silly and surprising facts about each continent.
What other fun geography facts do you know? Leave them in the comments section! Be sure to visit HelpTeaching.com and try our free geography worksheets.
If you enjoyed this read, you might also like what KidsKonnect has to say. Check out their articles today.
Geography Awareness Week is celebrated every year during the third week of November. The goal of the week is to get people excited about geography and help them learn more about the world around them. Every year, Help Teaching presents fun facts to help you get excited about this special week, and this year is no exception. We have rounded up 10 fun facts about one of the most majestic and awe-inspiring geographical features on Earth – mountains! Keep reading for our mountain facts for Geography Awareness Week!
1) What is a Mountain?
There are no universally agreed upon rules for what makes a mountain a mountain.
It’s generally acknowledged that a mountain is a landform that is taller than the surrounding area and bigger than a hill. Of course, there is also no agreed upon definition of a hill either. This controversy is famously portrayed in the 1995 feature comedy film The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain starring Hugh Grant.
Because there is not an official definition of a mountain, countries define what a mountain is in different ways. For example, in Ireland and the United Kingdom, only a landform over two thousand feet tall is considered a mountain, while in the United States, a mountain can be thus named as long as it’s over one thousand feet tall. This means that a mountain in one country might be considered a hill in another.
Mountains are found all over the world. Each of the seven continents have its own mountains. Here are some fun facts about the mountains on each of the continents.
2) North America: Oldest Mountains
Many geologists believe the Appalachians are over 480 million years old. It’s thought they were formed during the Ordovician period when the North American tectonic plate crashed into another plate during the creation of the super-continent of Pangaea. The Appalachians may have once been as tall as the Rocky Mountains, but have perhaps been worn down over time.
3) South America: Longest Mountain Range
The Andes extend over 4,300 miles through Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. It’s believed the mountains were pushed up when the Nazca and Antarctic plates started slipping under the South American Plate. The highest volcanoes in the world, and the highest mountains outside of Asia, are located in the Andes mountain range.
4) Asia: Highest Mountains
With more than ten mountains over 26,000 feet in height, the Himalayas are the tallest mountains in the world. The biggest jewel in the crown of Himalayan peaks is Mount Everest. With a height of five-and-a-half miles, Everest is the tallest mountain in the world.
But hold on… there is some dispute over whether or not Mount Everest is actually the tallest mountain on the planet. Mountain height is measured by how high the peak of a mountain is above sea level, not how tall the slopes of the mountain are. The base of Mount Everest sits in the Tibetan Plateau, which is more than 13,000 feet above sea level, meaning that the slopes are around 15,000. Denali in Alaska, on the other hand, has a base that is less than 3,000 feet above sea level and slopes that are almost 19,000 feet.
It’s believed the Himalayas are among the world’s youngest mountains formed when the Indian continental plate collided with the Eurasian plate. The Indian plate moves 67mm per year, which means that that the Himalayas are still growing!
5) Africa: Tallest Free-Standing Mountain
Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is a volcano that is not part of any mountain range. The mountain has three distinct volcanic cones, two of which are extinct, but the third is only dormant and could erupt again at some point. It is unclear when Mt. Kilimanjaro last erupted, but it is suspected to have been during the 19th century. Because of its height, Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the only mountains in Africa to have a permanent snowcap.
6) Australia: Smallest Mountain
Not every continent has tall mountains. Mount Wycheproof in Australia is officially the smallest mountain in the world. To most of the world Mount Wycheproof would barely be considered a hill. The mountain measures in at a staggering 486 feet above sea level. You would have to stack up almost sixty Mount Wycheproofs to reach the height of Mount Everest.
7) Europe: Most Photographed Mountain
Though it is impossible to accurately verify, residents of the town of Zermatt, Switzerland claim that the nearby Matterhorn is the most photographed mountain in the world. Even without that designation, the Matterhorn is an extremely popular tourist attraction and its image has become a symbol of Switzerland.
8) Antarctica: Mountains Covered in the Most Snow
Did you know that even Antarctica has mountains? They might not be the highest or the longest mountains in the world, but the Gamburtsev Mountains are the only mountains that are completely covered with snow. No one has actually seen the mountains because they are currently buried under two thousand feet of snow and ice. From 2007 to 2009, scientists used ice penetrating radar to survey mountain range. From their findings it has been determined that the mountains probably are around 6,500 feet tall and resemble the Alps in Europe.
9) The World’s Tallest Mountain: It’s Not What You Think
Ok, so every school kid knows that the aforementioned Mount Everest is the tallest mountain on the planet, right? Not so fast… the truth is there is a mountain taller than Everest from base to peak, but it so happens to be mostly underwater! Mauna Kea, a volcano on the big island of Hawaii, is 32,696 feet (6.2 miles), some 3,661 feet taller than Everest. More than half of Mauna Kea’s height is below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, and 2.6 miles of the volcano is above sea level.
10) The Tallest Known Mountain: It’s Out of this World!
We couldn’t resist including this mountain fun fact even though it technically doesn’t qualify as Earth geography. The tallest mountain in the solar system is Olympus Mons on the planet Mars. This otherworldly peak is 13 miles high, making it two and a half times taller than Mount Everest. In fact, there are four other mountains on the Red Planet that surpass Everest. There is even a mountain on the planet Venus that is taller than Everest!
Add to our list of Mountain Facts for Geography Awareness Week
Do you have any fun mountain facts? If so, share them in the comments. For more fun geography facts, check out 10 Fun Facts for Geography Awareness Week and 10 More Fun Facts for Geography Awareness Week, and be sure to check back next year for even more facts!
Flowers, candy, and cards decorated with hearts are used by many to express love to that special someone. The day offers many fun and creative ways to teach about friendships, poetry and prose, marriage, and relationships.
History of Valentine’s Day
Despite flowers being the number one gift given on Valentine’s Day, the holiday’s origin is not so rosy.
The real Valentine
The most noted theory about how Valentine’s Day began, is rooted in Ancient Rome. In the third century CE, the Roman emperor Claudius II wanted to develop a fierce team of young men to be soldiers in his legions. It was his belief that when young men are in love, this makes them weak. Naturally, a man with a wife and children tended to be more cautious in how he fought on the battlefield. So, Claudius outlawed marriage for young men serving in the Roman armies.
Well, not everyone or everything can be commanded by an emperor. As Claudius found out, he could outlaw love, but he could not stop it. Young men and women still fell in love and wanted to marry. A brave Christian priest named Valentine, who thought the law was horribly unjust, risked his life to perform the banned wedding ceremonies in secret.
News of Valentine’s clandestine ceremonies made its way back to the emperor. The cleric was arrested, and while in prison, Valentine sent a love letter to a young woman — possibly his jailor’s daughter — who visited him during his imprisonment. He allegedly signed it “From your Valentine”, hence the expression. He was executed soon afterward. Centuries later, when the Roman Catholic Church made the kindly priest a saint, St. Valentine’s feast day — February 14 — was chosen because it was the day he was put to death.
Literature of love
It wasn’t until almost 1,000 years later that the first known Valentine’s Day poem was written. It also was penned by a prisoner, and was sent from the Tower of London to the prisoner’s wife in 1415.
My very gentle Valentine,
Since for me you were born too soon,
And I for you was born too late.
God forgives him who has estranged
Me from you for the whole year.
I am already sick of love,
My very gentle Valentine.
Well, not the most remarkable of poems, but it’s good for a first effort.
Everyone is familiar with Shakespeare’s love sonnets, most notably number 18 which starts out famously:
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
And there’s Scotland’s remarkable bard Robert Burns:
O my Luve is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
That’s sweetly played in tune.
So fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.
And then there are the first love poems written by school kids:
Roses are red
Violets are blue
Faces like yours
Belong in the zoo
The economics of true love
In the 21st century, greeting card companies each year produce over a billion cards of love and affection just for St. Valentine’s Day. The impact that Valentine’s Day has on the U.S. economy is stunning. In 2019, more than $20.7 billion was spent on the holiday. It’s thought the most expensive Valentine’s Day gift ever purchased is a heart shaped 1001 Nights Diamond Purse. Decorated with over 4500 yellow, pink and transparent diamonds totalling 38,192 carats, the retail value of the gift is a gobsmacking $3.8 million.
Valentine’s Day symbols
- Red Roses: the most popular flower of Valentine’s Day, this enduring symbol of passion, beauty, and love has the power to impress anyone when a dozen of the long-stemmed variety are wrapped in a large bouquet. An ancient Roman legend has it that a beautiful maiden, Rodanthe, locked herself indoors while being pursued by overzealous suitors. When they eventually broke down her door, an enraged goddess Diana changed Rodanthe into a beautiful red rose and turned the suitors into thorns.
- Cupid: He was the son of Venus (goddess of love) and Mercury (the winged messenger of the gods). This mischievous little god carried around a quiver of arrows tipped with love potion. Anyone struck by one of Cupid’s arrows would fall in love with the first person they saw.
- Chocolates: Since ancient times, chocolates have been associated with sensuality and fertility. This is perhaps because when eaten, chocolate stimulates the production of a hormone that is similar to the chemical produced when a person is in love.
Valentine’s Day Around the World
Although Valentine’s Day started as a Catholic feast day, the saint’s death and the tradition of love that he exemplified is celebrated worldwide by people of many faiths. People send cards, flowers, and candy in many countries.
- In the Philippines, Valentine’s Day is the time when many young couples marry in an event sponsored by the government as a form of public service
- In Ghana, February 14 is celebrated as “National Chocolate Day”. The Ghana government established this day in 2007 to increase tourism in the country, as Ghana is among the largest cocoa-producing countries in the world.
- In Bulgaria on February 14, the “day of winemakers” (San Trifon Zartan) is celebrated. Young and old couples celebrate their love with a glass of local wine.
- In Denmark, Valentine’s Day is not limited to roses and chocolates. Friends and lovers exchange handmade cards with pressed white flowers that are called snowdrops
- In Estonia, February 14 is celebrated as a friendship day known as Sobrapaev. This festival includes everyone, from couples to singles
- In Japan on February 14, women buy gifts and chocolates for their male companions. Men can’t return gifts until March 14, which is called the “white day”.
- In England on Valentine’s Day, women used to place five bay leaves on their pillows. It was believed this would bring them dreams of their future husbands.
In Slovenia, St. Valentine is a patron saint of spring. It’s thought that on February 14, plants start to regenerate. This day marks the first day of working in the fields for the New Year. Slovenians also believe that birds ‘propose’ to each other on this day, and to witness this occasion, one must walk barefoot through the frozen fields.
Resources for Teaching about and around Valentine’s Day
Help Teaching has many fun educational resources which use the holiday to teach math and English.
- Valentine’s Day Multiplication
- Valentine’s Day Reading Passage
- Valentine’s Day Writing Prompt
- Valentine’s Day Silly Writing
- Valentine’s Day Reading a Chart
- Valentine’s Day Reading Passage
- Valentine’s Day Rhymes
- Valentine’s Day Word Scramble
- Valentine’s Day Word Sort
- Valentine’s Day Big and Small
- Valentine’s Day Math
- Valentine’s Day 10’s
- Valentine’s Day Money
- Valentine’s Day Repeated Addition
- Valentine’s Day Fractions
- Valentine’s Day Multiplication
- Valentine’s Day Division
- Valentine’s Day Probability
- Write Every Day: Valentine’s Day
- Valentine’s Day
- 139 Free Valentine’s Day Worksheets & Activities
- Reading Comprehension: Some Hilarious Valentine’s True Stories
- Speaking: Valentine’s Day Around the World
- Vocabulary: Valentine’s Crossword
- Grammar: Cupid’s Solution (Valentine’s Day Lesson Plan)
- And more!
- Valentine’s Day lesson plans for toddlers and preK from 123 Learn Curriculum
- ReadWriteThink has Valentine’s Day lessons plans for grades 3-12
- Teachwriting.org offers “Five Unique Valentine’s Day Lessons to Target Essential Skills in Secondary Classes”
- “No-fluff lesson ideas for Valentine’s Day” for high school grades from Mud and Ink Teaching
- Edutopia.org offers a 5-Minute Film Festival: 7 Videos on Love for Valentine’s Day
- I Choose Joy has a boatload of videos embedded in its blog “25 Inspired Ideas for Valentine’s Day in Your Homeschool”
Each year, Chinese New Year takes place. It’s a tradition that spans over 4,000 years! Read more to learn about its history, practice, and why it doesn’t fall on the day you’d think!
An annual tradition celebrated for more than 4,000 years
There will be hands filled with red packets of money and streets filled with dancing dragons as people worldwide, predominately of Chinese descent, welcome the Year of the Ox. Known to the Chinese as Lunar New Year, what we in the West call Chinese New Year falls on Friday, February 12, 2021, and celebrations will climax with the Lantern Festival on February 26.
What is Chinese New Year?
Also called Spring Festival, the holiday marks the beginning of the lunar Chinese calendar. The Chinese New Year is packed with tradition, family gatherings, superstition, and great food. Each day has a special name and tradition. The standard public holiday for mainland China is seven days from Chinese New Year’s Eve to the sixth day of the lunar calendar new year.
Since all stores in China are closed during the first five days of the Spring Festival, and some remain closed until the very end, people have to stock up on New Year supplies ahead of time. Spring Festival really gets underway on Lunar New Year’s Eve (this year on February 11) with a reunion dinner which is considered the most important meal of the year. After dinner, the children receive red envelopes, and the family stays up late to await the New Year.
Each day of Spring Festival is unique
New Year (February 12 this year) starts off with a bang as firecrackers punctuate a day of greetings and blessings among neighbors. The original name for Spring Festival was Yuán Dàn (Yuán means “the beginning”). In ancient times, the Chinese recorded and analyzed the weather, stars and moon to predict the fortunes of the year, a practice known as zhàn suì. On Lunar New Year people may celebrate with Tu Su wine. Tradition holds that it is forbidden to sweep or clean on this day, so that good fortune will not be swept away.
The next day of Spring Festival is called “to the in-law’s”. On this day, a married daughter must bring her husband and children to her parents’ home along with a gift bag of crackers and candies, which her mother will divide between neighbors. This simple gesture by the daughter expresses her longing for her hometown.
Day of the Rat
Following “in-laws” day is the “Day of the Rat”. In 2021 it so happens to fall on February 14, Valentine’s Day, appropriately because, according to folktales, this is the day that rats marry. On this day people will leave out some grains and crackers to share their harvest with the rats. They will then retire early so as not to disturb the “wedding”. The hope is if they do this, the rats will not disturb them during the coming year either.
Day of the Sheep
The fourth day of Lunar New Year is the “Day of the Sheep”. In the Chinese creation story, sheep were created on the fourth day. On this day the Chinese would traditionally pray to the god of wealth on this day. At midnight, people will welcome the god into their home by opening the windows and feasting until daybreak. Special foods for this feast are kumquats and sugarcanes — meant to represent a sweet life and successful road ahead — plus cakes, a whole pig, chicken, fish, and soup. Superstition says it’s forbidden to slaughter a sheep on this day.
Take a break
“Day of the Sheep” is followed by “Break Five”, when after praying to the god of wealth, markets and stores open again. A traditional dish of dumplings are eaten on “Break Five”. Some say that the taboos of other days can be done on the fifth. Others claim it’s wrong to work on this day.
Day of the Horse
Day six of Spring Festival is known as the “Day of the Horse” because this noble beast was created on the sixth day. On this day people will send the spirit of poverty away. This frail-looking man who likes to drink thin porridge and turned his clothing into rags on purpose is chased away by burning scraps and offering banana boat candles. It’s also believed that the god of bathrooms will visit to check on a home’s cleanliness, so everyone in the house is expected to clean on this day.
Day of the Human
Day seven of Lunar New Year is called “Day of the Human” because — you guessed it — humans were created on the seventh day. Originating in the Han dynasty, “Day of the Human” traditions include wearing a hair accessory called rén sheng and eating seven gem porridge. This delicious dish includes seven types of vegetables: kale, leek, mustard leaves, celery, garlic, spring vegetable and thick leaf vegetables.
Day of the Millet
After the “Day of the Human”, it’s “Day of the Millet”. Legend has it that this is the millet grain’s birthday. Ancient Chinese society was agrarian and, therefore, people highly valued the grain. On this day, pets such as fish and birds are released back into the wild as a gesture of respect for nature. Today, some families visit rural areas to learn about agriculture. Fair weather on this day is a sign of a fruitful harvest, but a gray sky warns of losses ahead.
The ninth day of Lunar New Year is called Providence Health. It’s the birthday of the sovereign god of the universe, the Jade Emperor. The main activities on this day are ceremonies for the Jade Emperor. In some places, women will bring perfumed flower candles to natural wells and harbors and offer prayers to the gods. Everyone must fast and bathe before praying.
The Stone Festival is the tenth day of Lunar New Year. In some places the night before, people freeze a clay jar onto a smooth stone. On the morning of the tenth day, ten youths will carry the jar around, and if the stone doesn’t fall, it’s an omen of a good harvest. A traditional lunch on Stone Festival is a meal of baked bread. It is believed that after the luncheon, the road to wealth will be open and smooth for that year, unless one uses stone tools, such as rollers and millstones, on the day.
Son-in Law Day
The eleventh day is Son-in-law Day when fathers will invite their daughters and sons-in-law to dinner.
Lantern Festival preparations
On days twelve, thirteen, and fourteen, people make preparations for the Lantern Festival by purchasing lanterns and constructing light sheds. The old adage goes: “make noise on the 11th, build light sheds on the 12th, light the lantern on the 13th, light is bright on the 14th, a full moon on the 15th, end the light on the 16th”. When spoken in Chinese, the saying has a nice rhythm.
The Lantern Festival
Lunar New Year culminates in the five-day Lantern Festival. The most important activity during the festival is creating lanterns. Lantern Riddles is a game played by writing riddles on lanterns. As it is a full moon that day, moon-gazing amidst lanterns is the best way to celebrate. Traditional food includes glutinous rice balls called yuan xiao. Either boiled, steamed or fried, they represent reunions. Lanterns are lit by those hoping to add children to their families.
New Year Oddities
Beyond the usual Spring Festival traditions, the holiday is full of interesting quirks and customs.
- Traffic is chaotic
The world’s largest annual movement of humans happens before and after Lunar New Year. It’s so big, it has its own name — Chunyun. It’s when all of China travels at once. The Chinese push their way into packed buses or stand for hours on a crowded train to visit loved ones.
- Odd language customs
There are some things you can and can’t do over the Lunar New Year in China — simply because of how they sound. Footwear purchases are a no-no for the entire lunar month, as the word for shoes sounds like “losing” in Cantonese. One can, though, invert the Chinese character for luck to make “dao” (which sounds like “arrival”) and put it on your door to bring in good fortune.
Ever wonder why firecrackers are associated with Lunar New Year? Legend has it that the half-dragon, half-lion monster “Nian” comes out of hiding and attacks people (especially children) during the Lunar New Year. So the firecrackers are used to scare him away (apparently he has sensitive ears).
- Wearing red
In Chinese culture red is associated with luck and prosperity, but it’s also used for protective purposes. In addition to being spooked by loud noises, “Nian” is frightened by the color red.
- Lunar New Year has its own movie genre
The “hesuipian” film genre in China and Hong Kong is devoted to Lunar New Year. The films are usually uplifting comedies focusing on families and happy endings to make viewers feel warm and fuzzy. Kind of like Christmas movies in the West.
Resources for Teaching about and around Chinese New Year
Help Teaching has many fun educational resources which use the holiday to teach math and English.
- Chinese New Year Classification
- Chinese New Year Addition
- Chinese New Year Math
- Chinese New Year Word Problems
- Chinese New Year Fractions
- Chinese New Year Probability
- Chinese New Year Whole Numbers
- Chinese New Year Decimals and Percents
- Chinese New Year Matching
- Chinese New Year Writing Prompt
- Chinese New Year Chart
- Chinese New Year Research
- Chinese Zodiac Scramble
- Chinese Zodiac Spelling
- Chinese New Year Matching
- Chinese New Year Missing Letter
- Chinese New Year vocabulary
- Chinese New Year: 13 Coloring Pages
- Chinese Zodiac Word Scramble
- The Ten Suns: A Chinese Myth
Here are some fun Chinese New Year learning activities from ReadWriteThink, and this Chinese New Year Fan Dance hands-on lesson from Teacher.org integrates social studies concepts with performing arts. Students will delve into customs of Chinese New Year by exploring traditional artifacts and dance.
The Asia Society is planning virtual celebrations for 2021, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum is ringing in the Year of the Ox with online celebrations. The Southern Oregon Chinese Cultural Association presents the Year of the Ox virtual celebrations, and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is streaming a 12-hour broadcast event completely free (and no registration is required). From art making classes to online dance and music, puppet shows and talks, there are many ways to celebrate. Usher in the Year of the Ox with online events provided by The Museum of Chinese in America Lunar New Year Family Festival.
However you choose to celebrate or learn about Chinese New Year, we at Help Teaching offer you this traditional greeting: 恭 禧 發 財 or “Gong Xi Fa Cai” (pronounced goong ssee fah tsign), which is Mandarin for “wishing you great happiness and prosperity”.
Image source: Freepik.com
When commemorating and celebrating Black History Month, it is critical to involve your students in activities that get them thinking critically about all the facets of the African American experience. Lessons should incorporate history, politics, human experience, art, and literature.
The history of people of African descent in the U.S. is American history, and Black History Month offers the opportunity to dig deeper. Each February gives us a chance to support students as they discover the impact African Americans have had on culture, society, politics, and science. The key for social studies teachers is to avoid pigeonholing the achievements of Black Americans to just one month. Although the emphasis during February is on African American history, this subject should be included in social studies education year round.
Origins of Black History Month
Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and historyCarter G. Woodson
The distinguished Black author, editor, publisher, and historian Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson (1875 – 1950), penned these words as he worked to establish Negro History Week (the precursor to Black History Month) back in the opening decades of the 20th century. Woodson believed that African Americans should be aware of their past so they can participate intelligently in the country’s affairs. He strongly held that Black history, which others have tried so hard to obliterate, provides a strong foundation for young African Americans to build on to become productive citizens.
Woodson’s numerous scholarly books and many magazine articles on the contributions of Blacks to the development of America supported his message that Blacks should be proud of their heritage and that all Americans should also understand it. This championing of African American history earned him the nickname the “Father of Black History”.
Expand Your Horizons
While teachers typically tend to stay with the same few topics during Black History Month (think civil rights, historical Black leaders, and significant achievements), there are also plenty of other important concepts to consider introducing your students to, such as:
- African American mental health (grades 9-12) (National Alliance on Mental Illness)
- Stereotypes and microaggressions (grade 1) (Teaching Tolerance)
- Impact of Black culture (grades 3-12) (Scholastic)
- The Music of African American History (grades 9-12) (National Endowment for the Humanities)
- Loads more lesson plans from the NEH here
- Suffrage for Black Women (grades 9-12) (Retro Report)
- A history of redlining (grades 9-12) (Zinn Education Project)
The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity (grades 9-12) (National Archives Museum Online panel discussion, Thursday, February 25, 2021, 7-8 p.m. EST)
African American History Month Teaching DO’s and DON’Ts*
- Incorporate Black history year-round, not just in February. Use February to dig deeper into history and make connections with the past.
- Continue Learning. Explore how to provide an in-depth and thorough understanding of Black history. What textbooks include is limited, so use the textbook as one of many resources, but be sure to explore multiple resources and allow for opportunities to learn along with your students.
- Reinforce that “Black” history is American history. Make Black history relevant to all students.
- Connect issues in the past to current issues to make history relevant to students’ lives. Making the subject matter relevant to student’s lives drives the point of a lesson home.
- Include the political and social context of the community’s struggle for social justice. For example, talk about Daisy Bates’ political affiliations and her political ideologies. You see her bravery not as just a personal act but as coming out of community determination.
- Stop your “regular” curriculum, to do a separate lesson on Rosa Parks, on the Civil Rights Act or on Martin Luther King Jr. This trivializes and marginalizes anything you are teaching, making these leaders a token of their culture and ethnicity. Students will get the message that the diversion is not as important as the “regular” curriculum.
- Focus on superficial cultural traits based on stereotypes. It’s okay to celebrate Black music, but teachers should also explore the political and social contexts that give rise to musical forms like hip hop.
- Talk about Black history in solely “feel-good” language, or as a thing of the past. This fails to help students examine how racism manifests itself today. Be sure to draw connections between how events or people’s actions in the past affect society today.
- Limit the presentation to lectures or reading. Be sure to allow students an opportunity for discussion and reflection.
- Shy away from controversial, ambiguous, or unresolved issues. Share the real-life experiences about racial realities in developmentally appropriate ways.
- Think that you can’t talk about black history because you’re a white educator. You do not need to be a person of color to talk about race. But you do need to be comfortable in your own skin, build your knowledge about the topic and be in alliance with educators of color for support and feedback.
- Don’t simply focus on the famous people. Use Black History Month as an opportunity to highlight the often-unacknowledged contributions that people of color make every day.
Resources for Teaching Black History Month
Help Teaching has the following resources
Civil Rights Test (HS)
Triangular Trade (MS)
Benjamin Banneker (older ES)
Pre-Civil War – African-American History (older ES)
Nat Turner (older ES)
Sojourner Truth (older ES)
Underground Railroad (older ES)
Harriet Tubman (older ES)
Frederick Douglass (older ES)
Emancipation Proclamation (older ES)
Jim Crow Laws (MS)
Booker T. Washington (older ES)
Granville T. Woods (older ES)
Buffalo Soldiers (MS)
W.E.B. Du Bois (MS)
W.E.B Du Bois Quotes (HS)
The Great Migration (HS)
Harlem Renaissance (HS)
Tulsa Race Riots (MS)
Tuskegee Airmen (MS)
The Civil Rights Movement (older ES)
King Quotes (grades 11-12)
Letter from Birmingham Jail (grades 11-12)
Medgar Evers (MS)
Madam C.J. Walker (MS)
School Desegregation (older ES)
Greensboro Sit-Ins (older ES)
The Freedom Rides (MS)
Emmett Till (older ES)
Malcolm X (MS)
Selma March (older ES)
Civil Rights Test (HS)
Shirley Chisholm (MS)
Maya Angelou (MS)
Read-Aloud: Martin Luther King, Jr. (older ES)
Martin Luther King Jr. Spelling (younger ES)
A Dream Like Martin Luther King Writing Prompts (younger ES)
Martin Luther King Jr. Writing Prompt (older ES)
Martin Luther King Jr. Timeline (older ES)
Martin Luther King Jr. Words (older ES)
Martin Luther King Jr. Reading Passage (older ES)
Martin Luther King Jr. Reading Passage (older ES)
You may also find this list of Black History Month Readings – 30 Titles for Grades K-12 helpful.
KidsKonnect.com has the following resources
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day Facts & Worksheets
- The March on Washington Facts & Worksheets
- Civil Rights Movement Facts & Worksheets
- And many other Black History Month resources
BusyTeacher.org has the following free ESL resources
- Crisis Point: An ESL Class on Police Shootings and Black Lives Matter
- Should We be Talking about This? Addressing the Topic of Racial Identity in the U.S.
- Human Rights Lesson Plan: Racism
- Malcolm X
These groups and institutions can also help you teach about African American history
- The African American Museum in Philadelphia is hosting a series of Black History Month online events at a nominal cost
- Teaching Tolerance provides free resources
- Here are some lesson plans specifically for preschoolers from Gayle’s Preschool Rainbow
- The National Education Association offers free lesson plans on the African American experience for all age groups, K-12
- 10 Ideas for Teaching Black History Month from the ADL
- Georgia Public Broadcasting offers these resources to help teach students about the significant events and people in African-American history in the United States:
- Civil Rights Movement Virtual Learning Journey (grades: 4-12)
Brimming with comprehensive, cross-curricular content, including videos, primary source images and documents, compelling photo galleries, interactive maps, artwork, music, and more, this virtual collection invites students into an engaging exploration of some of the most significant events of the Civil Rights Movement.
- Purpose of Black History Month (grades: 2-6)
Students discover the purpose of Black History Month as well as other historical facts, firsts, and figures about the month-long celebration with a downloadable backgrounder.
- The March on Washington (grades: 3-12)
Help students understand the significance of the 1963 March on Washington and the role it played in the Civil Rights Movement with this collection of multimedia educational resources.
- History of Hip-Hop (grades: 9-12)
Use this collection of interviews from National Public Radio (NPR) with high school students to chronicle seminal people and events in the hip-hop movement.
- Honoring the Life of Maya Angelou (grades: 7-12)
Maya Angelou’s talent was not defined by just one medium. Throughout her life, she was a poet, novelist, dancer, playwright, actor, and educator. In this lesson from PBS NewsHour Extra, students learn more about her extraordinary life.
- The Underground Railroad (grades: 5-12)
Students in all grades can make decisions as they follow Harriet Tubman and escape from a slave owner in this online interactive.
- Opening a Dialogue with Youth About Racism (grades: K-12)
To help those who may not know why, where, when or how to begin this conversation, USC Rossier has created Speak Up: Opening a Dialogue With Youth About Racism — a collection of interviews, resource guides, and op-eds aimed at answering some of the questions that can make these topics difficult, and prompt needed discussions about identity, inequality and education for children of color.
- Civil Rights: Internet Activism and Social Change (grades: 9-12)
Examine social media’s influence in America’s Civil Rights movement and its role in democratizing the media. The video answers the question, “How does social media support the work of social change protesters?”
These are just a few of the many free resources available online for teaching about African American history.