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My son's Korean and Japanese Sword Making

Korean and Japanese Sword Making

My son has always loved making weapons from bows and arrows made from sticks, to wooden swords that he carves and decorates himself.

He made this Samurai armor and sword upcycling sketch book covers and cardboard boxes. Duct tape was also involved. It always is involved in his projects.

Korean and Japanese Sword Making

In earlier days, he made swords using aluminum foil and duct tape for a Percy Jackson book club with his friends. Now, he needs a run to Home Depot to buy wood without a curve in it, drawing out his designs that his father cuts out for him. Read more…

When Republicans control government

Republicans Cause Recessions?

My fourteen year old was concerned about the Republican controlled government so she looked it up and found this: Republicans last controlled the White House and Congress in 1928, causing the Great Depression. (1928-1939).

Republicans Cause Recessions?

When Republicans control government Read more…

Hands On Geography Fun for Kids

Hands On Geography Fun for Kids

There is absolutely nothing that I hate more than to help my kids memorize factoids for a test. I figured out from my two older kids that their 4th grade social studies curriculum includes learning to spell and locate the 50 States, with state capitals as extra credit.

Trying to learn one section of the country every few weeks can be stressful, so I got the jump on it long before my son reached fourth grade. We played the Scrambled States Game, a board game, and did many, many rounds of geography trivial pursuit at dinner using map placemats. Beautifully illustrated atlas map books also make learning a pleasure. My kids would also credit this song about the capitals in South America and online learning games.

From my webpage: 70+ Free Education Games. This is the Geography section:

  • Name Countries of the World
  • Name the U.S. States
  • Name U.S. State Capitals
  • State Capitals of USA Game
  • Printable World Maps Free printable maps of the world’s countries. Each map is a blank outline, the better for quizzing students on cities, counties, and terrain!
  • 50 States Detailed information about each of the 50 states including abbreviations and capital cities. Excellent for teaching U.S. geography!
  • Where’s That U.S. State? This fun geography game times your students as it asks them to locate each state. How fast can your students locate each of the 50 states?
  • State Capital Crossword Puzzle

How about you? What are fun ways you and your kids are learning geography? Thanks for sharing!

Hands On Geography Fun for Kids

Barefoot Books World Atlas by Nick Crane, illustrated by David Dean

This is my go to atlas book. With large beautiful illustrations of maps and interesting details on the sidebars, some of which fold out, this is a book to savor and enjoy. There’s also a fold out atlas in the back perfect for mounting on a wall. You can use the wall atlas to point to a location and then look it up in the book, or just browse through the book continent by continent. There is also an accompanying app! [nonfiction atlas book, ages 4 and up]

Atlas of Animals Adventures: A collection of nature’s most unmissable events, epic migrations, and extraordinary behavior by Rachel Williams and Emily Hawkins, illustrated by Lucy Letherland

For animal lovers, here’s another way to look at an atlas. This book celebrates how animals survive in the wild through both migration but also through animal behavior. Animals are grouped by continent and country. This oversized book is also gorgeously illustrated and begs to be browsed. You can also make this book into a game with the Can You Find? “Where’s Waldo” section in the back. [nonfiction animal atlas book, ages 4 and up]

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#BigFatNotebooks Ensure Middle School Success

#BigFatNotebooks Ensure Middle School Success

My son started middle school this year and this is my year to evaluate his study spaces now that he will be getting more homework. What’s interesting is that good study spaces are not what I thought: it’s better to mix it up rather than study in the same place all the time. This New York Times Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits article by Benedict Carey upends that idea that a specific place, a study room or a quiet corner of the library is good for retention. The research finds just the opposite.

Instead of sticking to one study location, simply alternating the room where a person studies improves retention. So does studying distinct but related skills or concepts in one sitting, rather than focusing intensely on a single thing.

My son likes to study in different spots around the house. The perfect study space for my tween is actually many locations: his room, my office, and the kitchen.

#BigFatNotebooks Ensure Middle School Success

He likes to read, draw, or do homework in his bedroom lying down.

#BigFatNotebooks Ensure Middle School Success

The reading nook in my office is a sunny spot to work on homework, and I’m near by if he has a question or wants me to quiz him on something like Spanish words.

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He likes to do project work here, especially anything messy or arty. It’s really sunny and bright so it’s a nice creative work space.

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Learn About London for Kids

A Fun Way to Learn About London!

This cut paper animation video of the history of London amazed me … and prompted this list. I’ve been to London for a short trip before I had kids, but it’s on my list to visit again! How about you? Have your kids been to London? If so, would they like these books?

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Dr. Seuss Was a Racist

The Racist Side of Dr. Seuss You Didn’t Know About

Before Dr. Seuss was famous, he drew racist political cartoons during the 1920s through the 1940s. Was Dr. Seuss himself a racist, or did he just draw these cartoon for a paycheck? He was a racist.

Dr. Seuss racist illustrations

Geisel himself was vocally anti-Japanese during the war and had no trouble with rounding up an entire population of U.S. citizens and putting them in camps.

But right now, when the Japs are planting their hatchets in our skulls, it seems like a hell of a time for us to smile and warble: “Brothers!” It is a rather flabby battle cry. If we want to win, we’ve got to kill Japs, whether it depresses John Haynes Holmes or not. We can get palsy-walsy afterward with those that are left.

Geisel was hardly alone in such beliefs but it’s still disconcerting to see ugly cartoons like these drawn in the same hand that did The Cat in the Hat. from Open Culture Read more…

Diversity Picture Books for 6th Grade

Diversity Picture Books for 6th Grade

I consulted my 8th grader, PickyKidPix, about middle school curriculum. She pays attention to everything going on so she remembers what she studied and notices what other grades are doing. She said that her teachers have generally covered the same curriculum they have always done which seemed to naturally follow Common Core but that different teachers put different emphasis on units based on their preferences.

For example, Grasshopper and Sensei, in 6th grade was delighted to find that 6th Grade English included an extensive Mythology unit with she aced without studying because she loves mythology. She took the National Mythology Examination in 5th grade for fun, for example. For PickyKidPix however, her teacher wasn’t as into mythology so this was a single week unit (which suited her just fine because she never got into the Percy Jackson series).

6th grade curriculum for my kids included Greek and Roman Mythology, World Geography, culture and modern life of different countries around the world, and World Religions (Buddhism, Muslim, Catholic, Judaism, Hinduism). 6th Grade STEM included chemistry, physics and bridges and 6th Grade English included Tuck Everlasting, Beowolf, The Giver, The Odyssey.

What diversity picture books would you add? Thanks for your suggestions!

p.s. Here are all the books in this series:

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The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower or John Howland's Good Fortune

Thanksgiving Picture Book

The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower or John Howland's Good FortuneI was thrilled to be invited to a lunch hosted by Candlewick Press to meet author and illustrator P. J. Lynch who was here all the way from Ireland for the release of his first advanced picture book. He has illustrated more than 26 picture books over his 30 year career and this is the very first book he’s written!

The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower or John Howland's Good Fortune

Is it me or are all Irish authors charming and funny? Eoin Colfer comes to mind and now P. J. Lynch as well! After thirty years as a children’s book illustrator, P. J. reveals how this story about John Howland hooked him and converted him into an author: Read more…

A Teacher Pens Songs to Teach Kids History

A Teacher Pens Songs to Teach Kids History

Please welcome my guest author, 5th grade teacher Damien Drago today. He found a unique way to get his students excited about history: he writes and performs songs about American history!

 Damien Drago Read more…