Integrating Curriculum: The Answer to Losing Minutes of Social Studies Instructional Time

March 15, 2017
 Hand holding a drawing of the globe
Saskia C.B, "Atlas" www.flickr.com

 At the end of last week, I had the pleasure of presenting at the Illinois Council for the Social Studies conference in Moline, Illinois. This conference is designed for teachers that teach social studies and are seeking some additional professional development in their area. This conference is held twice a year: once in the spring and once in the fall. Dr. Larry Paska, the Executive Director of the National Council for the Social Studies said, “Social studies is relevant. Social studies is needed. And Social studies is wanted!”  Hearing him say those words, I could not agree more. As we know, social studies prepares all students for college, career, and civic life.

As a child, I remember social studies being one of my favorite classes. Times are different and now and according to the National Council for the Social Studies, traditional block instructional time continues to be reduced at the elementary level, where we know it is the foundation for students to learn about the world around them. It is important that we as parents and educators find alternative ways to make connections with social studies through other subjects or avenues.

One easy way to integrate social studies is to find books or reading passages that help us learn about different people and life around the world. Dancing a Story: Integrating Teaching takes it even a step further by incorporating the arts into a literature lesson from The Loon Spirit, a Native American story.  With this activity, children recreate the story via dance. This book could also be used for a math and science lesson as well.

Vocabulary development is a big focus in elementary school.  You can incorporate social studies topics or words as part of the vocabulary lesson or even the spelling words for the week. Teaching Vocabulary in Primary is a video where teacher Katie Havelda uses a number of strategies to help her students learn new content vocabulary.

There are a number of ways to continue to integrate curriculum for our children. Continuing to attend conferences like the Illinois Council for the Social Studies provides the professional development and teacher support to continue to do this well.