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    bored with the textbook
    By Carolyn

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    Your book, and your content area, sounds just like mine. I teach fifth grade, and while our textbook is only in its second year, the kids hate it. It is boring just like every other social studies textbook I have ever used with kids.

    I am doing a lot of activities. We are not pressured to have the kids take a state test in social studies, so I am not worrying about whether or not I finish the book. I am doing a lot of activities for fun and enrichment.

    In my class, I assign the reading to the students for homework and give them a couple of days to complete a study guide. They come into class prepared to discuss the topic instead of reading it aloud in class. I used to read each and every lesson with the kids years ago. (Can you hear the collective groans from the kids?) I just don't do that anymore.

    After the kids have learned about the topics through independent reading, we spend the class period doing the fun stuff. We write letters to historical figures. We role play. We create skits to portray the situations described in the book. We just finished the Boston Tea Party. My kids created a skit and dressed up as Indians.

    We also use social studies to integrate other content areas, such as science and math. We have to teach the kids to pass the state test in math and reading, so the heat is on to bring those areas into the rest of the day. I had my kids create a new flag for the new country (different from the one we have today) using geometric figures, such as pentagon, ray, triangles, etc.

    How about using some artwork in your centers? Kids could create globes out of paper mache, sand paintings of maps. You could have a writing center which focuses upon doing some of the ideas like I have suggested above. A child could sit at the writing center with another child and interview him/her as if he/she is a famous historical figure of the times. Students could come together at a certain time to share their work with the entire class.

    This is the time of day which you tend to see attention fatigue from kids. They have too difficult of a time sitting still and listening to reading once again. The behavior problems spring up because the kids are ready by this time to move around a bit and use their hands.

    Good luck and let us know how your centers work out for you.

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