Social studies includes history and geography and anthropology and folklife and genealogy and civics and political science and world faiths. It is the study of our world and how people and countries relate to each other. Learning about your block, about your neighborhood, about your city, about your heritage, is all social studies. If history only comes from books, even from exciting historical fiction, then your child will never understand that history and social studies are things that are alive and happening every day. Let your interests guide you to the cultures and period of history for study (you can never learn everything about all of them, so pick and choose), and let your child’s curiosity provoke questions that will result in research and field trips.
NYC is filled with historical sites well worth visiting. Search the census on the Place Matters website for the hidden historical treasures in your own neighborhood, or create your own walking tour in any of the five boroughs. Check the website resources for historical reenactments that turn history into living theater.
Worldbook – the encyclopedia, online. The information is written in-house and they
include links to approved videos or articles. It might have more
credibility than Wikipedia, and there are different "age" levels.
If enough people are interested, it's possible to split the Educational License among a group of homeschoolers.
History is the study of the past. Until the 20th century, teaching history usually involved learning a great many dates (of kings and queens, famous battles, etc.). See Ten Tips for Teaching History for some ideas to make history more exciting. "Social history" is concerned with the doings of everyday people.
See also Archaeology under Science Resources. Paleontology is the science of bones, but archeology is more about history. For example, it's amazing what has been learned about our ancestors by studying their garbage dumps!
Junior General – history games website that uses historical simulations as
a tool for teaching history, with free resources. The simulations make use of historical miniatures (paper or plastic toy soldiers),
maps and counters, and matrix arguments. The simulations are designed for students in grades 6 - 8. Each scenario is complete with everything needed to run the simulation except dice and rulers.
History for Kids covers a wide range of topics, from classical Greece and Rome to medieval Europe to ancient Africa.
Critical Thinking in United States History, published by Critical Thinking Press, comes in four volumes (Colonies to Constitution, New Republic to Civil War, Reconstruction to Progressivism, Spanish-American War to Vietnam). One Parent's review: These books are for 6th - 12th grade, designed to teach how to analyze primary and secondary sources. Each book starts out with lessons on how to assess information, and has exercises in identifying fallacies and generalizations. Then kids can then apply it to historical case studies. Most of the exercises take about 15-20 minutes to do; occasionally there is one that you have to spread over several days because of the amount of reading and analysis (the exercise in Volume One on the Salem Witch trials was like that!). Because there's a fair amount of discussion involved, the lessons would be well-suited to a small group setting.
The Cartoon History of the Universe, volumes 1 & 2, by Larry Gonick
History of US, a series, by Joy Hakim. The PBS website has free lesson plans designed to go with the books.
historical fiction (for example, Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes, set in the Revolutionary War era in Boston )
Picture the Middle Ages: The Middle Ages Resource Book, by Linda Honan in conjunction with the Higgins Armory Museum
Picture the Renaissance: The Renaissance Resource Book, by Linda Honan in conjunction with the Higgins Armory Museum
The Worcester Art Museum now houses the collection formerly at the Higgins Armory Museum. Click on the Museum Store and then click on books to find a wonderful list of books on the middle ages (in Worcester, Mass, between Boston and Sturbridge Village, this museum makes an excellent field trip)
The catalog at Jas. Townsend and Son has colonial gifts and 18th-century reproductions. You can find girls' aprons for $5 each, caps for $10, a tin candle holder for under $5 (beeswax candle is extra) and a few other reasonably priced items.
Passing Stranger is a free 90-minute walk that takes you through 50 years of poetry history in the East Village. Jim Jarmusch narrates.
The Heritage NY website has info, maps, and a listing of special events throughout the state, with heritage trails for the Revolutionary War, the Underground Railroad, and Theodore Roosevelt, all within NY State.
Mission US is a fun, interactive website designed for kids in grades 5-8, which teaches about the Revolutionary War. You can also access this game and other activities through the kids' site at Channel 13.
Dear America, from Scholastic, is a book series, with student activities that include: recipes, wax seals, basic knitting, homemade candles, and more. You can use these ideas even if you are using other books to teach this period.
Forgotten Founders - the complete text of The Forgotten Founders by Bruce E. Johansen: Benjamin Franklin, the Iroquois and the Rationale for the American Revolution, at the Iroquois 6 Nations website
"Reunion" - a Civil War musical with primary source documents and period music
For Revolutionary War studies I highly recommend attending a reenactment -- great fun for all ages. There are many organizations that do this. There is a big event every November at Fort Lee Historic Park, just across the Hudson right near the GWB on the river.
Many Ways to View the World.
A 30-minute video showing multiple perspectives of maps and map-makers. Four different kinds of map projections are explained. You can try the visual exercise with an orange peel at home yourself. First draw a world map with a marker on an orange. Then peel it and flatten the peel. Now watch this video.
Go to Google.com and type in a place name (location of your study), and you will find links to tourist websites, chambers of commerce, governments, maps and weather, local news, and more. Click on images for your search and you will see the photographs of the location.
Google Earth is a free download of a globe that sits inside your PC. You point and zoom to anyplace on the planet that you want to explore. It uses satellite maps and more.
Genealogy is the study of families and the tracing of their history. Parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, way back into the past. Dig into YOUR family - where did they come from? where are they now? What are their stories?
Genealogy for Kids includes family "pedigree" forms you can print out and fill in after some detective work.
Our Courts, Created by Sandra Day O'Connor, to engage children and teens, with interactive video games, curricula, lesson plans, links, and the opportunity to write Sandra Day O'Connor.
Perform community service, learn about the law, and get paid to do it! Ages 14-18 can volunteer to participate in Greenpoint Youth Court, Brooklyn. Read details (pdf format), download the 2010 Application (pdf format, deadline 6 April), or contact the Program Coordinator of the Greenpoint Youth Court, Jessica Stein, at 646-460-1764.