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    hands on S.S.
    By L. Adams

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    We study the regions of the United States throughout the year. I love S.S. but I usually find that it is my students' least favorite subject. So I try to incorporate as many hands-on activities as possible. I found that it was hard to do this at first, but once I got started the possibilities seemed endless. I try to find as many pictures, books, videos, stories etc. that have some tie in with each region that we are studying.
    For example, when we study Middle Atlantic region we find pictures of monuments in Washington D.C., the White House, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Declaration of Independence, Independence Hall, etc. I try to find Tasty Kakes (a Philadelphia treat) for the kids to try. We design 81/2x11 size postage stamps of different landmarks/tourist attractions for this region (ie. Liberty Bell, Niagra Falls, etc.) Our textbook has a blurp about Hershey, Pennsylvania -the home of Hershey chocolate. So, we read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and have a chocolate party at the end. I have also been trying to locate a chocolate factory to visit on a field trip.
    I usually try to pick a theme to focus on as we explore each region. We have a "cowboy" day after studying the SouthWest. We have a "luau" after studying the Pacific West. We read a biography about Walt Disney when studying the SouthEast (Florida) and have a "Southeast Picnic" to try new foods (okra, sugar cane, jambalaya, etc.)
    I try to break the students up into groups for different projects as much as possible. They make posters for a state fair when we study the MidWest. They Make Dioramas in shoeboxes representing something they have learned while studying the New England region (Boston Tea Party, Sturbridge Village, etc.) These are usually competitions - and they try so hard to win!
    There are other activities more independent in nature: Design a Quarter for a State, Write a Speech for a historical figure, Design a travel brochure for a State or City, etc.
    When studying the state we live in - we spend many weeks putting together a state booklet. A new page each day (Historical Sites, Climate (Weather Record), Natural Resources, etc.). I have them make maps all year - tracing, labeling, coloring, drawing to get them used to using them.
    If you need more ideas, feel free to email or pick a theme related to what you are studying and search the web!
    Hope this helps,
    L. Adams

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