A unique approach in teaching Social Studies

Interview made to Miss Petersen, Main Grades Educator in Trinus.

How do you engage your students in social studies lessons?


It depends on the age of the students. Currently I am teaching grade 6 and a big way of engaging them is through discussions- By asking and listening to their opinions of the content that was brought.


We do debates where children have to back up their opinions with reasons e.g. I divided the class into 2 teams: Spartans and Athenians; then each had to argue why their way of life was the best way.


Encouraging them to ask questions


Helping them see how EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED


In geography I always try to connect it to the children’s country e.g. “the population is 4 times bigger than that of Guatemala” This is a great way to help them connect and engage with content


Lots of artistic work: drawings, Maps, acting out the Greek myths, songs, poems, even making forms out of clay etc


Lots of humor and jokes


Stories which stir emotional reactions AS MANY EMOTIONS as possible


How do you apply real-world relevancy to the lessons?


Connecting content to the children’s own country; making comparisons with things the children know and see in their environment


Connecting to  BIG WORLD news stories e.g. while learning Greece we could link that to the olympics being cancelled because of the pandemic


By making a BIG deal of how something that happened long ago still affects us today e.g. “the Olympic event Marathon is called this because it’s the distance ran….. “ I get very excited when I point things like this out to the children, I act like it’s so cool as if I’m hearing this for the first time like them. This makes history alive and current for children, to hear and learn things like this


By letting them ASK QUESTIONS


By having experts come in where possible to discuss this in greater detail, to share more knowledge and answer questions

What examples do you have of incorporating the arts into social studies lessons?


Map drawing as an art- where possible we draw maps freehand


Paintings- painting a desert landscape or Greek fleet sailing for Persia


Clay modeling: we made monsters from Greek myths


Drama-acting out stories


Recitation- learning poems


Singing- learning songs from a culture


Writing- even this can be artistic work which we create together, the Athenians valued the power of speech


Poetry- writing poetry e.g. an ode to the river, learning poetry from that era


Waldorf book

What strategies do you use to create learning experiences that activate students’ prior knowledge?


Before I start a social studies block I always ask children to tell me something they already know about the topic, or I give them a blank map to fill places in. Then at the end we review this and there is that cool moment when they see how much MORE they know now


I ask specific guiding questions to relate it to something they have already seen


Ask “can anyone think what this is connected to?”


Encourage them to make predictions of what COULD happen so they can open to thinking in this cause and effect way which is ESSENTIAL IN THE SOCIAL STUDIES


Fun pop Class quiz to see who remembers


Generate excitement


Giving students time to think


Encourage them to ask questions!



Miss Petersen

Waldorf Certified Educator

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