Social Studies Assignments

Read all about this year's assignments, so you know how to get an A+ in Social Studies.

Vocabulary Pictures:


What they are:  


The students are expected to draw a picture for all of the most important vocabulary words in each chapter.  Some of the words might also be important concepts, events, people or places.  Drawing a picture of a landform, such as a peninsula, is pretty simple.  However, economic concepts and historic events, such as scarcity or the Revolutionary War, can be pretty challenging. 


Why we do them:


The most important reason for the assignment is that it builds understanding and memorization.   I have found that the kids who receive full credit for this assignment almost always get an A+ on the test, and remember/understand it well enough to bring it up in future discussions.  It also pushes them to summarize complicated events, and think about economic concepts in a new light.  Last, but not least, most nine/ten year olds love to draw! 


How to get an A+


The most important thing your son or daughter can do is label the drawing.  Even if he or she is a remarkable artist, a label demonstrates understanding, and can explain things that the drawing might miss.  Additionally, a label comes in handy if I can’t quite tell what everything is supposed to be.  It is more important that the word is thoroughly explained than that the drawing is cute.   Also, I don’t think that sharing ideas is cheating.  If one of your peers, or even parents, thinks of a clever way to show this picture – get their permission and copy it!


I am willing to give one extra credit point for every excellent drawing.  That means that the students have the opportunity to earn double points every time this assignment comes around.  (12 points could be 24 points!)  Keep three things in mind when you are working for extra credit. 


  1. Make it funny.Is there some way to work in a story or character that says something hilarious?I bet you can think of something for every picture!


  2. Color it.Even just a little color makes a big difference.Shade a little green into the trees.Add a little brown to their hair.It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece.


  3. Be thorough.Think about all of the things you know about this word and try to think of ways to include that information in your picture.Feel free to use your book as a reference.

Alternatives to drawing:

For some kids (and adults for that matter), drawing is misery.  Others just might get tired of this assignment and would like to mix it up.  Either way, the students have lots of options.  If you choose to do one of the activities below in place of drawing, please keep one thing in mind:  Make it easy for me to keep track of what you did in place of your drawing!   I have a lot of assignments and a lot of kids.  If the word is left blank, I might forget that you demonstrated understanding in a different way, and accidentally mark it as incomplete.  So please explain (or take a picture of) your alternative in the space provided.  Also, I give students time in class to work on their vocabulary pictures.  If you already completed yours at home, please don’t interrupt your peers who are still working.


  1. Use the Internet:Find pictures of this concept on the Internet.You can download the assignment and cut/paste them right into the space.Or, you can print it off, cut it out, and glue it in.But, please make sure that these pictures are labeled and demonstrate understanding of the whole concept. (For example, a picture of a cannon does not explain the Civil War.)And make sure you write down the website where you found them.(If you use Google images, please track down the website that Google took it from.)


  2. Go 3D:Use play dough, cardboard, or anything else you can think of to create it.This would be a lot of fun with landforms.Just make sure that you label what everything is (perhaps with a piece of paper and some tape.)Also, make sure that you either tape in a picture of it, or show it to me, and write a reminder in the blank space.


  3. Act it out:You can perform a concept with friends or alone.The skit can be just a few lines, as long as it is thorough.Perhaps wear nametags.And, remember to write in that you acted it out in the blank space below the word.You might get a chance to do it in class.You might have to come in for a few minutes at recess.


  4. Tell a story:Write a short story or example in the space provided.It should be about three sentences.Make sure you include periods!!


  5. Let me know:If you have another cool way to demonstrate what you know, just let me know.As long as it demonstrates to me that you understand it, I’ll probably give you the go-ahead.



Let’s say the word is non-renewable resource:


0 points (marked -1) – The student drew a picture of two circles with a yellow



1 point (left blank)  -- The student drew a picture of two circles with a yellow

crayon, and labeled it, “gold.”  They also drew two circles with

a gray crayon and labeled it, “diamonds.”


1 extra credit point (marked +1)  -- The student drew five examples of different non-

renewable resources, colored them lightly, and labeled them. 


The student drew a miner holding a piece of metal (labeled), and saying, “This won’t be around forever.”


Let’s say the word is Revolutionary War:


0 points -   The student drew a beautiful drawing of a war scene.  But there are no

labels – it could be any war.


The student copied a picture from the internet without labels.


1 point – The student drew two stick figures.  One is labeled as British.  The other is

labeled as American.  The American is saying, “You’re not my boss.” 


               The student copied a picture from the internet, and labeled one group as

Brittish, and the other group as American.   The website is included.


Extra credit --  The student drew two figures.  One is wearing red, and the other is

wearing blue.  They are labeled as British and American.  The British soldiers are in their boats, sailing back to England with their heads down.  The American is saying, “Yay!  Wait a second!  Now I have to write a constitution…”


Graphic Organizers:

 What they are:


The students will use some kind of web to organize the information from the chapter.  Sometimes, they will fill in a web with main idea and details.  Sometimes, they will cut out and glue items into their correct spaces.  In the beginning of the year, this will mostly be done as a class.  They will just have to copy it.  As the year progresses, I will expect more and more independence.  They can always ask for help from a peer or me.  They can always redo this assignment for full credit.  We often complete these at the beginning of the week.


Why we do them:


The purpose of these assignments is to help your child make sense of an informational text.  It’s both personal and the law.  In college and as an adult, I have met countless people who have admitted to me that they don’t understand books that aren’t stories.  Every time I hear that, I feel more committed to making sure that I am teaching students to read.  Also, teachers were given a new set of standards, called the Common Core.  I am now required to teach students to read informational texts during Social Studies.


How to get an A+


It’s pretty simple.  Complete the assignment in class and turn it in.  If your child is not satisfied with their grade, they are welcome to do it again. I will give them full credit for corrections.  They have until the end of the grading period to complete it.  I should have extra copies. Also, these should be posted online.  The most common reason students lose points is having incomplete, or not very thorough, answers.

Reading Quizzes:


What they are:


The students answer questions about an informational text.  All of the answers to the questions can be easily found using charts, graphs, pictures, captions, headings, subheadings, and topic sentences.  They may also be expected to look for the main idea and consider the author’s intent.  One to two of the questions will ask the student to answer in a complete sentence. The directions on the page will clearly describe whether or not a complete sentence is required.  As often as time permits, we will go over the answers in class.  The students are encouraged to pay close attention during class, and then correct their own answers for full credit after class ends. 


Why we do them:


Just like the Graphic Organizers, these quizzes help students make sense of informational texts.  Using the organizational features in an informational text is paramount to understanding it.  Also, these quizzes push kids to take the information a step further, forcing them to consider the author’s intent and main idea.  They also get a little practice writing in sentences.


How to get an A+


Every student may correct this assignment again and again until it is perfect.  Students may even correct the assignment after we go over it in class! 


Leveled Readers:


What they are:


Once or twice each quarter, the students will read a leveled book in a small group.  They will take turns reading a page at a time and paraphrasing a page that another student read.  Then, they will answer three to four short questions about the book using complete sentences. 


Why we do them:


These books are another opportunity to practice reading informational texts and responding to what they have read. 


How to get an A+


Just like many of the other assignments in this class, your child is encouraged to correct it until it is perfect for full credit!   Remember to make sure that the answer is in the form of a complete sentence! 


Because I have a limited number of these thin, little books, I am a little worried that they could become easily lost after I send them home.  For that reason, I prefer that the majority of these assignments are finished and corrected at school.  However, if you would like me to send a book home so that you can correct an assignment, just put note in the planner.  Then, I will know that you are expecting the book and plan to send it back to school as soon as you are finished.


This is also a great way to earn extra credit!  There are six books available for every chapter, but we will only have the time to finish one!  Simply read and answer the questions for one of the remaining books!




What they are:


Each test has two parts:  Vocabulary and Content.  The Vocabulary Test is a multiple-choice test over the words in the vocabulary pictures.  The Content Test has two to four essay questions.  Each question requires one to two complete sentences.  For chapters 3,5,7 and 9, the students will take a states and capitals test.   The Chapter Tests in 3,5,7 and 9 will also ask the students to list jobs or natural resources that are common in the region.  The more specific your child is, the better.



How to get an A+


Tests are one of the few items I do not allow students to redo.  I expect them to prepare. 


The very best way to prepare for a test is to talk about their vocabulary pictures.  If they can thoroughly explain what each word is without looking at their picture, they will do well on the test.   I will also send home a test review the day before the test.


Also, every test offers extra credit opportunities!  J 


One really great site to help your students prepare for the tests is  I have created fun games/quizzes for all of the states/capitals and vocabulary. Their username is first name last initial 6770.  Their password is eagle.  ((Starting this year, that site is no longer free.  I am not yet aware if we will have access to it.))


The day before the test we all always review as a class.  I will also send home a paper test review that you can use to prepare at home!  It will include a list of the vocabulary words and their meanings and sample essay questions.  If you would like this test review well in advance of the test, I will be more than happy to give it to you!




We will be doing 2 -3 projects every quarter in Social Studies.  The students will be responsible for doing three of these projects at home.  Please pay close attention to the rubrics and checklists.  I use these to grade assignments.  As long as you have met the requirements on these rubrics, it will be easy to get an A+.


During First Quarter, they will do a Map Assignment.  We will start it in class, and they will finish it at home.  It is due on September 23rd.  We will start presentations on October 5th.  We will also write a paragraph about conservation in class.


During Second Quarter, they will need to do a State Report at home.  It will be due on November 23rd.  We will create Unicef Presentations for a fundraiser in class.


During Third Quarter, the students will be responsible for a Family History Report at home.  It is due on February 22nd.  We will start presentations on March 7th.  We will do multiple projects about Kansas History in class.


During Fourth Quarter, the at home project will be extra credit.  Interested students can create a board game about conservation.  We will play one another’s board games during the last week of school.  We will participate in a Fake Economy in class, and write a National Parks Letter during Writing.