I just can't help it. I LOVE it! It is so much fun for me, so interesting, that I really do spend a great deal of time teaching it. (of course, I integrate because, let's get real, I couldn't teach everything I need to without combining subjects here and there)
Our first unit is on the Pre-Columbian Native Americans here in the United States. I like to have the unit focus on the environmental factors that made each cultural group different. I mean, the Plains people are vastly different than the Desert Southwest because of the areas in which they lived. So my in class study really centers around the differences and similarities in culture. The students, however, really do like to learn about the individual tribes and what makes each one unique. Since I don't have time to teach about each tribe on its own, I came up with a solution years ago....a Native American Museum!
And right about now you are probably thinking of all of the ways that this just won't work. I am here to tell you that it will. I have taught in a Title 1, 100% Free and Reduced lunch school for 13 of the 15 years I have taught. I have worked with students who have little to no support at home. Students who had not a dime to spare on anything extra. I have done this same project (with various levels of scaffolding) in grades 3, 4, and 5. And every year, I get nearly 100% of the projects back.
I also include a calendar for the students. Some years, with some classes, I required that they turn each part of the project in on a certain date (3rd grade for sure). We would then put the presentations together in class. This would ensure that each part was there, instead of just hoping that it would be come the due date. But for most classes, the check in form does the trick just fine.
What I really love about this project is that, for many of them, it really is the first time they do something so big at home. The pride and joy they feel when they are sitting in the "Museum" telling others about their tribe is priceless. They learn so very much and really do walk away with a better feeling of social studies. It is fun and interesting, and JUST the thing needed to introduce the students into this fabulous world of social studies for the year!
If you would like this project, it is available at my TpT store. Just click here. And for my readers, if you purchase the project, I will customize the descision page for you with specific tribes you would like to add (ie: California Tribes if you are a 4th grade CA teacher) Just let me know!
Do you do any at home projects? Or just big projects in class in general? (I know some can't do at home projects)