Social Studies Lesson Plans and Resources

Last updated 11-1-2014 with new lesson plans for the 2014 election.

This page contains lesson plans for all social studies subjects except geography, history, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and archaeology. Lesson for those subjects have been moved to separate pages, but can still be accessed from the index.

Index: Large Collections of Social Studies Lessons; Civics; Current Events; Elections; Economics; Families; Genealogy; Geography; History; United Nations; Human Rights; Immigration; Presidents/White House; Psychology; Sociology; Anthropology; Archaeology; Rubrics for Social Studies; Return to Educational Resources and Lesson Plans; Go to the National Standards for Social Studies

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Large Collections of Lessons for Multiple Social Studies Subjects
EDSITEment History and Social Studies
Many high-quality lesson plans from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Smithsonian Education - History & Culture
More high-quality lesson plans.

Discovery Education
Many lesson plans for social studies.

NCSS Teachers Library Collection
From National Council for the Social Studies, this page allows you to search for lessons or browse by grade level.

Social Studies School Service
An excellent resource with information and lesson plans for a variety of social studies topics.

United Nations Cyber School Bus
Lesson plans and resources in a variety of areas including human rights, cities, peace, poverty, women's rights, and world health.

Many social studies lesson plans, including some unique to this site.

WSU Social Studies Education Home Page
Lesson plans and units for a variety of grade levels from Wayne State University.

Lesson Planning center - Social Studies
Many lesson plans from Education World.

Academy Curricular Exchange
Click on grade level below.
High School

Lesson Plans and Teaching Strategies
From CSU, Northridge. Scroll down the list for links to lesson plan sources.

Utah Curriculum Resources
Many social studies lesson plans organized by grade level.

Civics Lesson Plans and Resources   
For videos, activity books, and Internet activities in government and law, click here.  
Center for Civic Education: Lessons Plans
A large number of lesson plans for many topics and all grade levels. 

iCivics Curriculum Finder
Several units for a variety of topics.

Civics and Government
Lesson plans from the Library of Congress!

The National Archives Lesson Plans
Many lesson plans and resources using primary-source historic documents (DOCS TEACH), such as Teaching Six Big Ideas in the Constitution. and
Congress and the Creation of the Bill of Rights.

Observing Constitution Day
Another wonderful lesson plan from the National Archives and Records Administration which uses original historical documents accessible via the Internet.

National Constitution Center Lesson Plans
Many high-quality lessons including
A More Perfect Union: Barack Obama's Speech on Race at the National Constitution Center.

Free to Be You
A lesson plan on the First Amendment for grades 6-12 from the National Constitution Center.

Lesson Plan Library - Civics
Many lesson plans from MCREL.

Lesson plans from the New York Times Learning Network.

Civics Lesson Plans for Teachers
From the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Teaching with Historic Places
Civics lesson plans from the National Parks Service.

Congress Link
Many lesson plans such as Congressional Powers.

Follow the Money
High school lesson plans for tracking the influence of money in politics.

U.S. Government Lesson Plans
An entire semester (18 weeks) of high school lesson plans by George Cassutto

The Declaration Versus the Communist Manifesto
A high school lesson plan.

Comparing Democracy and Republic
A middle-grade lesson plan.

Introduction of Restrictions on Freedom of Speech
A high school lesson plan.

Separation of Powers
A lesson plan for grades 10-12 on the three branches of government.

Mock Senate Simulation
A lesson plan from Congress Link.

The Many Powers of the President
A lesson plan designed to help students become familiar with the many roles of the president.

The Constitution, Juvenile Justice, and You
A lesson plan developed for Special Education Students in grades 9-12.

Ask a
Great site for crime prevention information  and lesson plans.

Crime and Punishment
Seven units developed by fellows of the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute covering topics in the theory and practice of crime and punishment in contemporary America from the standpoint of politics and political theory.

Who Serves Time? Breaking Down Stereotypes about Juvenile Offenders
A lesson plan for grades 6-12 from LA Youth.

Justice for All
Another 6-12 lesson plan from the above source.

United States vs. Thomas Cooper: A Violation of the Sedition Law
A lesson plan using original documents accessible via the Internet from the National Archives.

A lesson plan designed to help students appreciate the importance of rules and laws within a society and to recognize the process by which these laws are created and implemented. See also Laws 2.

Your Own Classroom Court
An activity designed for teachers who would like to allow their students to have a more active role in setting classroom rules, in decision-making, and as a means of settling differences.

A grades 4-6 lesson on conflict resolution.

Mock Trial: The Titanic
Interesting lesson plan for trying the case: Jensen vs. White Star Lines.

Embassy World
Connect to hundreds of embassies. 

Election Lesson Plans and Resources
Do the Midterm Elections Matter?
A lesson plan for grades 7-12 from PBS. See also The Politics Game: Playing Midterm Election Bingo.

Winning the Seat: A Congressional Election Simulation
From CongressLink. Scroll down the page to find the simulation. See also Curriculum Table of Contents for the 2014 National Student/Parent Mock Election.

Today is Election Day
An activity from Read-Write-Think.

Mock Election
A 3-day simulation lesson from iCivics. 

Mock Election Teaching Unit 
Several lesson plans from the Washington Secretary of State.

Elections: Everything You Need
 This "Teaching Theme" from Scholastic includes many lesson plans and resources.  

Access, Analyze, Act
A curriculum guide and elementary-level lesson plans from PBS.

Stephen Colbert and the Role of Political Satire, Caucus in Our Classroom
A video, student reading, and discussion questions from the Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility. See also Caucus in Our Classroom and Wealth and Taxes: What's Fair?

Sticker Race Headquarters
From the Democracy Project. Start making stickers!

Understanding the Nominating Process
A reading, glossary, resources, and discussion questions from The Bill of Rights Institute.

Electing a President: Lessons for Teaching about the Presidential Primaries
From Education World

The Mystery of Voters Who Don't Vote
A high school lesson plan from EconEdLink.

Kids Voting USA
Resources and curricula. You will have to register (it's free).

Project Vote Smart Classroom Activities and Resources
Lesson plans for all grade levels.

Copernicus Election Watch
Another source for election lesson plans.

Winning the Vote: How Americans Elect a President
Three lesson plans from the Smithsonian.  

Elections and Campaign Lesson Plans
Many lesson plans from the Lesson Plans Page.

Primaries, Voting, and Elections
Many lesson plans from Education World.

History of Political Parties in the U.S.
A 12th-grade lesson plan. See also
Political Parties and Conventions, The Electoral Process: Modern Political Parties and Elections, Third-Party Voices, and  One Big Party?

The Electoral College
A lesson plan for grades 3-12 from Education World. See also see U.S. Electoral College Teaching Resources.

Does My Vote Count? Teaching the Electoral College
A 10th-grade lesson plan from Learn NC. 

Current Events Lesson Plans and Resources
Teachable Moment: Classroom Lessons
Many activities for high school students related to current events from the Morningside Center for Social Responsibility.

Twenty Five Great Ideas for Teaching Current Events

From Education World. See also Curriculum: Why Teach Current Events?

Teaching Current Events Via Newspapers, Magazines, and TV

New York Times Learning Network
The above link takes you to their current events lesson plans See also their Lesson Plans by Category.

NewsHour Extra: Lesson Plans
Many current events lesson plans for a variety of subject areas including the lesson below.

Teaching with the News
"Online curriculum materials and ideas to connect the content of the classroom to the headlines in the news."

Breaking News English
Current events lesson plans for EFL/ESL. See also English Current.

War and Terrorism
Many lesson plans from the National Council for the Social Studies.

Center for Middle East Studies
This link takes you to their lesson plans, many of which are related to current events.

Current Events and the Constitution
Lesson plans from the Bill of Rights Institute.   

Maps and Current Events
A high school lesson plan from Xpeditions.

Local and International News Stories
A generic current events lesson plan. See also Current Events in the High School Classroom.

What Do They Do? A Current Events Action
A lesson plan from Learning to Give in which students
examine the role a selected philanthropic organization plays in a current event situation. See also What's the News and Inquiring Minds: News and Philanthropy for additional lesson plans from this same source.

A Geography Lesson on Current Events
A lesson plan for use with grades 4-12.

Economics Lesson Plans and Resources
A variety of online and classroom learning activities based on economic topics in the news, all designed to help integrate economic concepts across the curriculum as outlined in the National Content Standards in Economics.  

More lesson plans tied to the National Standards.

National Council on Economics Education
Many resources including the Mint, a resource on money management.

Lesson Plan Library - Economics
Many lesson plans organized by topic from MCREL.

Economic Forecasting: An Internet WebQuest
See also Can You Make Cents of Economics?.

National Budget Simulation
An online simulation from  EconEdLink.

Foundation for Teaching Economics
This site contains about 50 economics lesson plans, including 8 that have won awards for excellence. Click here to access their Home Page.  

Practical Money Skills
Many lesson plans for all grade levels.

Lesson 1: Budget Basics
For grades 6-8 from Scholastic. See also Your Budget Plan and Budgeting.

A Curriculum of United States Labor History for Teachers
An entire curriculum complete with handouts.

Production, Distribution, and Consumption in a Free-Market
A 4th-grade lesson plan.

Distribution of Goods
An elementary lesson plan.

Limiting Trade
A secondary lesson plan involving a debate over a proposed new tariff.

String Trade
A 9th-grade lesson plan using economic and geographic themes to demonstrate the concept of global interdependence.

Investing Money Lesson Plans
From Money

Lesson Plans and Classroom Activities
Many activities and resources organized by grade level from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

Virtual Stock Exchange
See also Free Stock Market Simulation Game.    

The Mint
Middle and high school money-management and basic economics lesson plans.

Teacher Resources:Consumer Education
Classroom activities and lesson plans.

Families Lesson Plans and Resources
Our Family
A K-2 lesson plan in which
students to explore the family or household unit. See the three-lesson unit, Our Playful Community.

A first-grade mini-unit using the book, All Kinds of Families.

Learning About Families from Click, Clack, Moo
A K-2 lesson plan fro  Read-Write-Think.

Families Are Different
Grade 2 activities for Nina Pellegrini's book by this title.

A 1st-grade lesson plan designed to help students  realize that each and every one of them is a unique and special part of their family.

The Important Thing About a Family
A 1st-grade lesson plan in which students identify the ways families provide basic needs to their members and then create and publish a booklet to display this information. This lesson is designed to have a class of older children work with the first-graders to help with the reading and writing. See also Family Responsibilities for another 1st-grade lesson plan from this source.

Families on Display: An Introduction to the Study of Families
A 2nd or 3rd-grade lesson plan designed to help students recognize that there are different family structures and different roles played by various family members.

Introducing TV Families
A lesson plan for grades 2-5 designed  make students aware of how families are portrayed on television and the differences between TV families and real families. See also Comparing Real Families to TV  Families and The Constructed World of TV Families.

My Family and Me
A 3rd-grade lesson plan in which students compare the social structure of ant colonies and their families.

Family ESL Lesson Plan
For the intermediate grades.

Cultural Diversity: The American Family - Past, Present, and Future
A 7th-grade unit that explores the family from a sociological point of view to see how “family” in America has changed, especially in the last twenty-five years, and how societal changes have had an impact on family life. It also looks at families from different cultural backgrounds.

Family History/Genealogy Lesson Plans
Genealogy for Kids
A site dedicated to the development of future genealogists! It provides resources and activities for teachers,  students, and parents.

Family History in the Classroom
Information and several lesson plans from

Create a Family-History Totem Pole
From Microsoft in Education.

Genealogical Atlases
A lesson plan for grades 3-5 in which students interview their parents and create genealogical atlases.

Uncover Your Culture
A 5th-grade lesson in which students define "culture" and orally report on their individual family culture.

Genealogy Lesson Plan: Did Your Ancestors Fight in the Civil War?
A lesson plan for grades 6-9.

This is Your Life
A unit for grades 7-12 in which students explore their backgrounds and discover information about themselves and their families.

Lesson plans for geography and history have been moved to their own sites.

United Nations Lesson Plans
School Kits on the United Nations
Ordering information and sample units for these "kits" developed by the U.N.

Model U.N. Headquarters
Have a model U.N. conference! See also UN Simulation.

The United Nations: An Introduction for Students
Information about the U.N. written specifically for students. See also
The United Nations Home Page  and  United Nations System of Organizations.

About the United Nations/History
A concise history of the U.N.

The United Nations
A lesson plan for grades 9-12 dealing with the history, aims, and reasons for the United Nations.

Unions and Alliances
A lesson plan for grades 3-5 about the United Nations, its functions, purposes, and members.

Challenges and Hopes for the Future: "The United Nations"
A Web activity from Glencoe World History.

UNESCO Home Page
Information about the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.

Model UN Lesson Plans
From the United Nations Association of the  United States. See also Model United Nations Cirrriculum.

The United Nations Matters
A "Teaching Pack" with a Teacher's Notebook, Glossary, and Lesson plans.

Human Rights and the United Nations
A lesson plan "
about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations."

Human Rights Lesson Plans and Resources
Human Rights Resource Center
Click Education Materials in the left index for information on human rights education.

Interactive Declaration of Human Rights
From the UN Cyberschoolbus. Scroll down the page to find suggestions for using the interactive declaration in your classroom. See also Universal Declaration of Human Rights Resources,
Human Rights and Human Rights in Action.

Human Rights and the United Nations
A lesson plan "
about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations."

UNHCR Lesson Plans
Lesson plans for all ages from the United Nations Refugee Agency.

Universal Voices: Online Human Rights Internet Guide
Links to several lesson plans and resources from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Center for International Education.

Human Rights for Educators
Curriculum guides, teaching guides, and lesson plans  from Amnesty International USA.

Partners in Human Rights Education
Lesson plans for all grade levels.

Lesson Plan Unit: Human Rights
Lesson plans and articles from the New York Times Learning Network.

Exploring Human Rights and Finding What Sparks You
Several lesson plans from Rock Your World.

Human Rights Lesson Plans/Activities
From Humane

Human Rights Lesson Plans
From Speaking Globally.

Resources: Human Rights
Lesson plans and activities for a variety of age levels from Oxfam Education.

Human Rights in the U.S. and the International Community
Several multi-lesson units from the University of Nebraska.

Stand with Malala for Girls' Education Worldwide
A lesson plan that explores "
the importance of educating girls and examine the barriers that keep girls out of school . . "

Population Diversity and Human Rights
A high school lesson plan from Discovery Education.

Health and Human Rights
A lesson plan for grades 7-10 in which
students explore the concept that health is a basic human right.

Poverty and Human Rights
A high school lesson plan from a unit titled, For the Well-Being of Our Citizens.

Youth for Human Rights
Order your free human-rights education packet.

Human Rights
A big pdf file from Amnesty International containing lesson plans and service-learning projects.

Immigration Lesson Plans and Resources
Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Foundation. Inc.
Great source for information on immigration.

Coming to America: Immigration Builds a Nation
An Article and other resources from Education World.

Ellis Island Unit
A middle-grade through high school unit that allows students to take a virtual field trip to this famous historical site.

Angel Island Immigrant Journals Curriculum Guide
Many lesson plans, work sheets, and primary-source documents about this immigration station through which many Asian immigrants passed . See also discovering Angel Island: The Story Behind the Poems and
Angel Island: Angel Island: An Asian Pacific American Heritage Activity.

Where Do I Come From?
A lesson plan for grades 3-5 in which students explore connections to their ancestral homelands.

Coming to America: US Immigration
A 6th-grade unit in pdf format. See also Hopes of Our Ancestors: The Impact of Immigration on America for another 6th-grade unit.

The New Americans
Many lesson plans from PBS.

Immigration to the United States
A lesson plan for grades 6-8 from Discovery Education.

Immigration: Why People Move
A middle-grade lesson plan from Xpeditions.

Immigration: Our Changing Voices
A secondary unit using documents from the American Memory collection. See also Immigration and Oral History for another lesson plan from this source. Scroll down the lesson plans page for other immigration lesson plans.

American Immigration Past and Present: A Simulation Activity
For high school students.

A Nation of Immigrants
This 11th-grade lesson plan explores the Immigration Act of 1965. For more information on this important legislation, see
Immigration & Naturalization Act of 1965: Origin of Modern American Society.

The Immigration Debate and DBQ
A lesson plan exploring U.S. immigration policy and proposed legislation.

Immigration Information from Theodora
Everything you  want (or don't want) to know about immigration.

Presidents and the White House
The Presidents of the United States
White House source of information, pictures, etc. for all U. S. presidents . Use the left-side menu to find the president about whom you want information.

The American Presidency
Lesson plans organized by grade level.

American Presidents: Life Portraits
Teacher guides and resources for all US presidents from C-Span. See also their Classroom Resources.

Presidents' Day WebQuest
For elementary grades. See also
Presidents WebQuest.

Presidents' Day Activities
From the NEA.

Teaching Ideas for Presidents Day
More lesson ideas. These are from Bright Hub Education.

Presidents' Day Activities
Ideas from Education World.

Presidents' Day Theme
Many lesson plans and activities from A to Z Teacher Stuff.

Presidents' Day Lesson Plans, Activities, and Clip Art
From Mr. Donn.

President's Day Quiz
An activity for ESL students that could probably be adapted to other student groups.
See also Presidents' Day Quiz for Beginners and Presidents' Day Quiz for Experts.

Before and Beyond the Constitution: What Should a President Do?
A three-lesson unit for grades 6-8.

The Many Powers of the President

A lesson plan designed to help students become familiar with the many roles of the president

Presidential Power and Influence
A lesson plan for grades 6-8 from Learning to Give.

Presidential Power: Its Use and Abuse
A high school lesson plan from Teachable Moment. There are five other related lesson plans with links provided here.

Portraits of the Presidents
Portraits of and information about each president from the National Gallery at the Smithsonian. Click on Educational Resources at the bottom of the page for associated lesson plans.

Winning the Vote: How Americans Elect a President
Three lesson plans also from the Smithsonian.  

Lesson Plans: First Ladies' Library
Many lesson plans from The National First Ladies' Library.

Sites for lessons on Presidents Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Obama can be found at History Lesson Plans and Resources.  

White House Home Page
This is a really good site!

White House Historical Asso0ciation Classroom
Many lesson plans and resources.

From the White House of Yesterday to Today
Three lesson plasn for grades 3-5 from Edistement.

Scavenger Hunt in the Whitehouse
A lesson plan from
The National First Ladies' Library.  

Every Day is Presidents' Day at the Whitehouse
A lesson plan for grades K-3 from Education World.

The Story of the White House Teaching Plan
For grades 3-5 from Scholastic.

Let's Tour the White House
A lesson plan for grades 4-6.

Rubrics for Social Studies
Kathy Schrock's Guide to Everything: Assessment and Rubrics
Information and examples of various types of rubrics, including ones for student web projects, cooperative learning activities, labs, group participation, multimedia presentations, oral presentations, portfolio exhibits, and research papers.

A "general rubric" and two others from The Social Studies Help Center.   

Social Studies Rubrics and Research Guide
For high school grades.

Social Studies Rubrics
Several rubrics from Greece Central School District (NY).

Social Studies Rubric Makers
from Teachnology.

Social Studies Rubrics
Links to many rubrics from

Social Sciences Rubrics
A large number of rubrics from Rcampus.

Comparative Study Rubric
Developed for an assignment in which students compare two cities.

Social Science Rubric
An analytical rubric.

Comparison Rubric
A rubric for comparison papers.

Timeline Rubric

Presentation Rubric
A rubric for evaluating oral presentations. See also Oral Presentation Rubric.


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