When it comes to creating history lesson plans, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all lesson plan. What works for one class might not work for another. Differentiated instruction is always the goal. but there’s so much more that goes into a standout lesson. With a little creativity and some flexibility, you can easily design lessons that are sure to engage your students and help them learn about the world around them. Here are three key ingredients for no fail social studies lessons that will get your class excited about learning.
Give your lesson plans a sense of humor.
Kids respond well to humor and wit. When someone or something is funny, we want more of it. It doesn’t take much to add a hint of humor to your lesson. Insert a silly meme into your Google Slides and watch as a spark of recognition goes off for your students. They’ll instantly be more interested because of a small chuckle. You can also try using Bitmoji stickers. Personalize it to your look and use in Slides throughout your presentation. I use Bitmojis as a way to encourage and cheer on my students during independent work and they absolutely love it! You can also sneak in a quick YouTube clip that’s relevant to what you’re teaching. Even if it might seem like a stretch, students are always appreciative of comedic relief.
Make your history lessons relevant.
One mistake that many teachers make when designing history lesson plans is focusing on rote memorization instead of making connections to the real world. If your students are bored or disengaged, it’s likely because they don’t see how what they’re learning is relevant to their lives. To avoid this pitfall, always try to find ways to make the material you’re teaching relevant to your students’ experiences. History is all about stories, so why not tell them in a way that’s guaranteed to capture your students’ attention?
Try using video clips, songs, and even short stories to bring the material to life. You can also ask your students to create presentations or skits to demonstrate their understanding of the content. Another idea is to bring in a guest speaker. For more ideas, a quick scroll through TikTok or Instagram will tip you off to what’s trending. Whether it’s music, a celebrity, a scandal, or a fashion statement, students get excited and become engaged when a teacher shocks them with knowledge of what is ‘woke.’
Give your history students a chance to move.
Learning through experience is more memorable than simply listening to a lecture or reading from a textbook. Building opportunities for students to move throughout your history lesson plans is an important strategy to maintaining attention. It can be as simple as having students stick a Post It up on the board or having them help you hand out papers. You can also try a gallery walk, stations, or a scavenger hunt for more intensive movement opportunities. My lessons consistently incorporate three opportunities for movement in our 47 minute class period, breaking the class into manageable chunks. The learning no longer feels overwhelming or exhausting to students when they are able to shake out their jitters.
Just remember – when incorporating movement into your history lesson plans, less is more! You don’t want your students so wound up that they can’t focus on the task at hand. A few quick brain breaks here and there should do the trick!
Putting it all together
How will you put your history lesson plans together using these tips? If you love these ideas but creating lesson plans organically isn’t your jam, I’ve got your back. The StuckOnEDU store has 100% ready to use (download & go) engaging and interesting lessons that kids love. All activities are aligned with state standards and include extras like review questions, activities, and more.
Differentiated instruction is always the goal when designing social studies lesson plans, but sometimes coming up with creative ways engage all learners can be easier said than done! With a little creativity and some flexibility though, any teacher can design lessons that are surefire hits with even the most reluctant of learners! Try incorporating some of these tips into your next social studies unit and watch as your students’ engagement—and grades—soar!