Saturday, March 28, 2015

Communities: Supplementing the Social Studies Texts

Hello, everyone!  I'm thrilled to be a part of this fantastic group of first grade teachers/bloggers/collaborators!  I am Lesley Boatright, and I run the TpT shop Practice Makes Perfect.  I've been a teacher for a really long time.  I taught kindergarten for 10 years, and then switched to first grade and never looked back.  I love teaching first grade!  I love teaching math and reading and social studies and Spanish. When I'm not teaching, I'm wife to my supportive husband, and mother to my two children.  My oldest son, 20, is in the service and living with his wife in North Carolina.  My daughter, 11, is in fifth grade, and often models for my resources, especially in the summer or if I want to include a face.  We've worked out a deal where I pay her $1.00 per resource sold if she models for it.

Supplementing the Text
Teaching social studies is always a challenge for me.  Being in a smallish Catholic school, there is a limited textbook budget, and it seems like every time it's time to upgrade the first grade social studies books, the money runs out.  The copyright date on the books I currently use is 2003!

I have no problem with the text.  It's a perfectly good text, and the information for first grade probably hasn't changed all that much that we need to get new books every five years like we do in reading and math.  But we no longer get any supplemental materials that come along with the texts, so we're left to our own devices as to how we want to teach the objectives.  So I was thrilled to find these two little books from Hameray Publishing's My World series, What's a Community and Very Important People.  I knew they tied in nicely with the social studies objectives.

I started with What's a Community?.  Using the posters I made to accompany the book, I started by introducing the key vocabulary from the book.

Then I read the story and we discussed all the different communities of which we are a member.  We made an anchor chart on big paper as we talked about our communities.

After that, we talked about our place in the world, starting with our neighborhood.  From there, we discussed that our neighborhoods were all a part of our town (city, if you live in an urban environment).  We went on to say that our town (city) is a part of our state, our state is a part of our country, and our country is on the continent of North America.  We completed this little foldable booklet to reinforce what we learned.

After we completed the foldable, I guided the children through completing a craftivity to again reinforce what we learned about our place in the world and hung them in the hallway.

Now, I can't guarantee you will have the same result, but my principal made it a point to stop by and tell me how cute these turned out!  I must say, the children's drawings of our state, our country, and our continent were quite funny.  Some of them did a fantastic job,

 and others -- well, let's just say it's a good thing we wrote the name as well as the picture!


I love reading The Little House, by Virginia Lee Burton, as part of my social studies unit on communities.

It is a great example of rural, suburban, and urban.  I created this little flapbook to finish after reading the story to my children.  
You can tell by reading the tabs the children are meant to make illustrations that depict what each type of community environment looks like.  A quick glance at the finished product, and you can tell whether your students understand the differences between the types of community environments.

After reading Very Important People, I made this fun Community Helpers puzzle booklet.  The children, or you, read the description, than cut and glue the correct community helper to the page.  

My kids loved completing this puzzle booklet.  The reading was easy enough that, working in groups of 3 to 4, most of the children were able to independently read the text, and if they got stuck on a word, they were able to help each other.  They loved the feeling of working independently and completing the booklet, then taking them home to share with their families.

So that is a closer look at how I used this social studies unit in my classroom. It's a great way to meet the objectives in first grade social studies in a relaxed and engaging way! If you'd like to take a closer look at the resource and download the free sample included in the preview, you can click on the picture below. 

Have a great weekend, everyone!


  1. We are in the same boat regarding social studies texts, but I have you beat by 13 years! (But that is about to change when we are scrapping that text for the great unknown next year!)

    1. Wow, you have been really creative to meet your social studies objectives, haven't you?!?! Good luck next year. We tried to get our principal to let us use Scholastic Weekly News for social studies, but she said no. :(

  2. Great post, Lesley! I love your ideas for supplementing your curriculum, and I LOVED your use of the words "relaxed and engaging". That's so important! Too much frantically-pace teaching, pushed by standards or curriculum pacing or whatever, doesn't usually bring the learning results we hope for!
    Linda at Primary Inspiration

    1. Thanks so much, Linda! Believe me, I feel the pressure in language arts and math, so I'm happy to relax a bit in social studies and science. The kids are learning and happy, and I think we must be doing something right when they see science or social studies on the schedule and say, "Yay!"

  3. Wow! So many fun, interactive activities. Thanks so much for sharing your fun ideas!