These 50 DIY projects can breathe new life into Social Studies lessons. We think of DIY for the house and maybe even for classroom decor (the popular crate seats and teacher toolkits come to mind!), but we rarely think of it for our lessons. Kids love DIY! Whether you are learning about ancient civilizations or studying the Civil War there are so many ideas just waiting for you on pinterest. The problem is that many of them aren't tagged to come up in a search for teaching materials on that particular subject or they are hard to find in the search results. I'll give you some search tips, ideas for implementing DIY in your lessons and a huge list of DIY projects to get you started.
Searching for DIY projects for Social Studies lessons
When you search for ideas on pinterest you want it to be as exact as possible. My Social Studies curriculum for 3rd grade consists of learning about famous people in American history. I LOVE these lessons! I'm a bit of a history geek and enjoy watching shows like Genealogy Roadshow just so I can pick up some tidbits of history. If I search for a person in my curriculum by name or for teaching ideas ("Benjamin Franklin", "teaching Benjamin Franklin", "classroom ideas Benjamin Franklin") I will get tons of search results and it will be very hard to find any hands-on DIY projects for my students. Instead, I brainstorm a list of things related to that person. I especially like to find ideas that are related to the objectives and the main learning targets for that lesson. The picture above shows some ideas of things that are related to Benjamin Franklin. This gives me more specific search terms. I can search for these terms with or without the topic (Benjamin Franklin). So, some searches I would use based on the above chart are:
"Benjamin Franklin printer"
"Benjamin Franklin kite"
If you don't see good search results within the first several rows of a search, then try a different set of search terms.
Ideas for implementing DIY in the classroom
Another obstacle for DIY can be the implementation. Arts and crafts can get messy! Also, they need to learn the skills to do these types of projects. They often need help with learning how to do fine motor skills like folding paper precisely or cutting neatly. Of course, they often need even more practice with listening carefully and following directions! Through DIY, they can build these skills. It's always good to start with easy projects. Make the project ahead of time so you know the skills required and they have a sample. If you think it will require you to help many of the students then work in small groups. It could be part of the daily rotations for a small group to come and work on a project with you. As they become more skilled, give them greater responsibilities. They can figure out how many supplies are needed for the whole class (build math skills). If you don't have supplies, perhaps the parents could bring in what is needed for a project. Let the students divide the supply list and write the letters to parents requesting items. Clearly tell the students your expectation for each project. Are you looking for creativity? neatness? completed project? Follow the advice of Ben Franklin and plan, plan, plan!
And now for the list! I've already shared some ideas on how to search for projects, so if your particular lesson isn't on this list you can probably still find some projects. Just put those search skills to work!
1. make a compass (explorers)
2. age a map (explorers)
3. flower press (explorers, Lewis & Clark)
4. spaghetti geography (geography)
5. DIY lanterns from milk cartons (Paul Revere)
6. firework salt painting (Francis Scott Key)
7. spy cipher (Nathan Hale)
8. pipe cleaner bifocals (Benjamin Franklin)
9. stained glass kites (Benjamin Franklin)
10. cereal box frame to display a quotation (Benjamin Franklin)
11. penny spinners (Abraham Lincoln)
12. oatmeal container top hat (Abraham Lincoln)
13. make butter (Pilgrims)
14. story bead bracelet (Pilgrims)
15. Jamestown fort replica (early settlements, Jamestown)
16. wig (early settlements, 13 colonies, George Washington)
17. using M & M's to teach taxes (Revolutionary War)
18. hardtack (Pilgrims - Pioneers, Civil War)
19. rock candy (Civil War)
20. handkerchief dolls (Civil War)
21. Hopping John (Civil War)
22. quill pen (could be used in many lessons, Civil War)
23. mini Civil War cannon (Civil War)
24. buzz saw pioneer toy (pioneers)
25. covered wagon (pioneers)
26. cornhusk dolls (Native Americans)
27. storytelling stones (Native Americans)
28. totem poles (Native Americans)
29. dream catchers (Native Americans)
30. bear skins (Native Americans)
31. basket weaving & weaving natural materials (Native Americans)
32. constellation cards (underground railroad, Harriet Tubman, African Americans)
33. Great States plates projects (United States)
34. Liberty Bell (US monuments)
35. polling booth (have a Pepsi vs. Coke election) (US government)
36. potsherds (ancient civilizations)
37. Egyptian canopic jars with pringle cans (ancient civilizations, Egypt)
38. Tutankhamun hats (ancient civilizations, Egypt)
39. DIY cartouche with shrinky dink or clay (ancient civilizations, Egypt)
40. Egyptian snake bracelet & cuff bracelet (ancient civilizations, Rome)
41. wax tablet (ancient civilizations, Rome)
42. DIY urn (ancient civilizations, Greece)
43. olive headpiece (ancient civilizations, Greece)
44. DIY Clepsydra - ancient Greek water clock (ancient civilizations, Greece)
45. DIY Faberge eggs (world cultures, Russia)
46. Chinese drum (world cultures, China)
47. Chinese dragon puppet (world cultures, China)
48. lantern (world cultures, Japan)
49. dala horse (world cultures, Sweden)
50. African necklace (world cultures, Africa)
Pin this post so you can find this list when you need it! Just hover over the image below to add it to your pinterest account.
teachertreasurehunter.com for more teaching ideas. I'm planning on doing a series of posts like this with ideas for other subjects. It will be a fun way to get new ideas during the summer!