Social studies projects can be a fun way for you and your child in grade 6 through 8 to spend time together as well as an opportunity for you to teach some valuable learning tools for middle school. Like anything else you try to do with your child, however, you have to engage her interest for her to really learn and get fully involved. The project you choose is key.
Whether a modern artist or scientist, an ancient philosopher or world traveler, there are many people today and throughout history who have done amazing things. Help your child choose someone based on his interests. If he's a musician, help him choose someone like Beethoven. Does he like science, history or building things? Choose an architect, historian, inventor or scientist. He can do a report on the person with pictures and fun facts. Encourage him to dig deep to find unusual facts. For example, the infamous author, Charles Dickens, would sleep facing north, believing it would make his writing better. He could even try his hand at replicating something his famous figure created, such as Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit’s modern thermometer, or braille, created by Louis Braille in 1824. Or maybe he'll be inspired to create something all his own that he could share in his report. Show him how to use the Internet and library for research, and then let him explore the person on his own as he follows his interests. You'll be helping him learn valuable skills in research for his future.
A Day in the Life of...
Help your child broaden her view and understanding of the world and how others live. There are many fascinating cultures throughout history, like the people of Alexandria or the Persians, as well as many interesting modern-day cultures, some living very differently from our technologically-advanced culture. Help her explore a few options and find one that interests her. She can write about the typical day for such people -- the food they eat, how they get it and their means of work. Pictures and first-person accounts from anthropologists or sociologists can add depth. Interviews, if possible, are also a nice touch. Highlight notable accomplishments, creations or people from that culture. She may discover a new appreciation for her own way of life or an interest in humanitarian work.
Help your child learn about research and history together on a hunt for his own family tree. He can share family crests or tartans, pictures and interesting facts he comes across. If you find people that were involved in major historical events, he can give background on the event and that person's role. Help him create a map for an immigrant ancestor or one who traveled for war or exploration. If you can't find much of interest to him in your own family, he can choose to research a famous family from history, from the "Catholic King and Queen," Ferdinand and Isabella, to Walter Elias Disney's family. He can create a time line to show major events or a tree for people and explain their impact on history and what their lives were like. Who knows, your child might find a new hobby.
Women in History
Many women influenced the course of history or discovered new things. Boudicca was a warrior and leader of the early Britons. Pocahontas played a vital role in the colonization of America. Marie Curie discovered polonium and radium, which are used in modern science and medicine. Princess Diana and Mother Teresa were both known for their humanitarian work. Your child can explore the challenges and criticism they faced, their beliefs and convictions, and their personal and family life. Don't forget to include mention of their teachers and people who influenced them. If she doesn't want to focus on one person, she can choose an era and discuss how women influenced culture and politics, such as with suffrage. Discuss how they accomplished what they did and what impact that made historically and for modern society. Include pictures, first-person accounts and time lines.