June 26, 2013

Windows Into History

Here is the sad truth...social studies often gets put on the back burner at my school.  Reading, writing, math, and science all come first.  After all, those ARE the tested subjects and therefore the most important. Ugh! You are hearing the sarcasm, right?

Social studies often gets taken out of the daily routine or completely integrated into other areas. Now, please don't get be wrong, integration of social studies content is wonderful. Huge fan.  However, sometimes I think it can be tough, especially on your students who are reading below grade level and/or have very little background knowledge. I guess I'm just sayin' that I miss the designated block of social studies time.

But, I digress.  Back to the point...

I love social studies.  I'm not wowed by all the map skills and I'll be honest, the community unit is a bit of a snooze for me (sorry if that's your favorite), BUT I love teaching the history unit!

Since I teach 4th grade, I'm responsible for state history.  And, because I teach in San Antonio, I get to teach Texas history...which is just fun!!

This is one of the projects my students did after we learned about the Alamo.  It can easily be modified to fit any historical topic or subject. 

Here are our  
Windows into History:

  • Copies of an image relating to topic (use cardstock)
  • Crayons, markers, colored pencils
  • Black pen or Sharpie
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Construction paper for background

Step 1: Read about an important historical event or time period. 

Step 2: Have students write down 5-7 questions and answers about the topic.  Encourage them to use both fact based questions (thin) and thinking questions (thick).

Step 3: Students will write their questions on the image in random places BEFORE coloring.

Step 4: Color around the words so it is easy to read OR use black pen.

Step 5: Students will use scissors to cut around their questions on 3 sides. Show them how to fold the paper to cut the top and bottom.  Then, open up the paper to snip 1 side of the box.

Notice the top question was not cut very well, but he got the hang of it for the rest.  :)

Step 6: Glue onto construction paper and write the answers to the questions under the flap you just made.

Please ignore all the capitalization errors. I tried... I really tried. :)

And, that's it!!

My students loved working on this project and it was a great way to assess their knowledge about the Alamo.  More importantly, they couldn't wait to share.  They wanted to see if others could answer their questions.  Love that!

We completed our projects in 2 days and this was mostly because they all took it so seriously and produced such beautiful projects. I always tell my class, "If you are working and you need more time, I will give it to you.  If you are goofing around, then I won't." They always agree this is fair and with this project, they earned their extra time.

I hope you try sometime similar in your classroom.  This is such a versatile activity and has been around for years, but this was my first time giving it a go.  I will definitely be doing it again.

If you are interested, I found the Alamo image at Enchanted Learning. I also found great resources and lesson plans for teaching about the Alamo at TheAlamo.org. Go figure?  To link directly to the 4th grade lesson plans, click here!  For the 7th grade lesson plans, click here! Enjoy!

And folks... Remember the Alamo!!


  1. I love this idea!! I agree, teaching communities is a real snooze fest. I pinned this so I can use it to spice up my lessons.

    Hooty's Homeroom

  2. I'm pinning this! I love it. Thanks so much for sharing. :) I'm following now via Bloglovin. :)
    Creating Lifelong Learners

  3. I love this! As a first time fourth grade teacher in the fall and a Floridian I can totally see how incorporating "the Fort" (in St. Augustine) would make a wonderful project. As always, thanks so much for sharing all of your terrific ideas!!!

    :) Nicole
    Tadpole Tidbits

    1. I'm so glad you can use it! Hope your kiddos enjoy it as much as mind did. :)

  4. What I neat project! I also love to teach the history part of social studies- we teach the U.S. regions here so I have a lot of historical aspects I could choose from to use this project. Thanks for sharing!
    On the Trail of Learning

    1. Oh yes! You could do so much with this - states, historical monuments, entire regions. Awesome! I can't wait to see how you modify it to make it work for you and your students.

  5. This is such a neat project! You are right this can be used for any historical topic! Thanks for sharing!
    Karmens Kinders

  6. Yes, Yes, Yes...I am always looking for a project to see if my students understand a topic. I teach 30 minutes daily of 5th grade social studies (that teacher gets my students for science) and I also love teaching history!

    1. You could definitely get a good chunk of this accomplished in 30 minutes. It may take 2-3 days for the whole process, but the projects are worth it. Enjoy!

  7. What a wonderful idea! I just shared it on my 5 on the 5th post. Works for a ton of topics, but really wish I had seen this one when I was teaching Texas history!!

    I Teach. What's Your Super Power?

  8. Thank you for sharing this! I love it!


Thank you for taking a moment to share your thoughts!