Bring Social Studies Into Morning Meeting
It’s the end of the week and Mrs. Cofie’s fourth graders are gathering in the meeting area to begin Morning Meeting. As they find their places in the circle, they review the morning message. In Mrs. Cofie’s classroom, Friday’s message is always connected to the week’s social studies learning. There’s a lot of social studies content to cover and Morning Meeting provides an ideal opportunity for students to review content in a way that’s engaging and low risk.
For their Morning Meeting activity, Mrs. Cofie has taken a song they learned in a previous Morning Meeting, “Ram Sam Sam,” and modified the words to help students remember the roles of important people from the Revolutionary War. The students sing it several times and, by the second round, even add their own motions. After the meeting, as they prepare for the rest of the day, Mrs. Cofie can hear students quietly singing the song, and she’s eager to see how much they remember when they review the roles during social studies later in the day.
According to the National Council for the Social Studies, “The primary purpose of social studies is to help young people make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world” (NCSS 1994). An important aim to be sure, and yet, all too often, social studies gets relegated to a tightly scheduled block of time. So, how can teachers make time to help students get excited about, and deepen their understanding of, the world around them?
The answer to this question can be found in Morning Meeting. The activities in our new book, Doing Social Studies in Morning Meeting: 150 Quick Activities That Connect To Your Curriculum, use the components of Morning Meeting to bring social studies concepts to life and help students connect what they learn to their own lives.
Morning Meeting is a natural time to practice social studies skills:
- Greeting teaches students to interact respectfully in a variety of ways.
- Sharing provides opportunities to explore and appreciate social and cultural differences.
- Group activity allows students to learn empathy through interaction and the discovery of shared commonalities.
- Morning message gives students a forum for practicing the critical thinking skills necessary to be informed and reasoned decision makers.
Doing Social Studies in Morning Meeting can be used to supplement any curriculum; topics have been chosen based on the National Curriculum for Social Studies. Activities are geared toward specific grade levels from kindergarten through sixth grade but can be adapted for any age group. Here are a few examples:
- Put It to a Vote gives kindergartners the opportunity to experience firsthand how voting works.
- Use the Map makes learning about maps more personal and more creative, as third grade students work together to make a map of their school.
- History Mystery turns recalling important historical information into an engaging collaborative guessing game for fourth grade students.
- Cultural Intrigue asks sixth grade students to actively consider cultures outside their own through the examination of artifacts, thereby widening the students’ understanding of multiple perspectives.
Morning Meeting is a chance for teachers to introduce and reinforce critical academic and social-emotional skills for students of any age. Bringing social studies into Morning Meeting can give students extra opportunities to discuss and reflect on their experiences interacting with their peers, and, by extension, explore how a human society functions. Doing Social Studies in Morning Meeting provides the framework to practice and review these important concepts and skills at the start of the school day, without adding to an already busy schedule.
Work Cited: National Council for Social Studies. 1994. Expectations of Excellence: Curriculum Standards for Social Studies. Washington, D.C.: NCSS.
Tags: Engaging Academics, Social Studies