5 EASY Techie Tools for Social Studies Projects

Digital activities for Social Studies: 5 EASY to use technology tools for Social Studies Projects

Are you looking to spice up your Social Studies lessons this school year? No iPads? Then here are 5 EASY technology tools you could use with your students using laptops/desktops.

#1 Scribble Maps
When I think of Social Studies, the first visual I see in my mind is a MAP. I think I can thank my 6th grade Geography teacher for that. My entire 6th grade binder was filled with about 1,000 paper maps...uhhhh! With the help of technology in this day and age, teachers can provide a real world geography experience for their students and "fly" virtually from place to place. There are a ton of really cool map techie tools out there such as Google Earth, Google Maps, Google Tour Builder, etc. that you can use in your classroom. However, today were are talking really EASY tools. Therefore, check out Scribble Maps.
There is an option to sign in but you don't have to. Simply go to the site, click "Create Your Map Now", zoom in or out on the world map, and start scribbling. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this website for the 3rd grade Virginia Social Studies standard on European Explorers. Students have to know the exact path each explorer took to the New World. Have your students pull up this website and draw out explorer paths by using the line tool. They can even use stamps to tell a story. Here is an example of Ponce de Leon's path (my stamp in Florida represents The Fountain of Youth):

You could even use the pencil tool to draw out different geographical regions you are studying:

There are a lot of other really cool features to this site but let's continue keeping it EASY today :)

#2 Powerpoint/Keynote
These programs have A LOT more power than creating slideshows. You can make really fun animations in both Powerpoint and Keynote and then turn it into a movie. For instance, I did a lesson last year (yes, another Explorer lesson) in which students made a Scribble Map (above) and saved it to their desktop. They uploaded their map as a background in a PowerPoint template that I had placed in Google Classroom (I also did a lesson in which the template was accessed from our student server) for the students to easily access. This template just had a small sailboat png image...that's it. After the map was turned into a slide background, I showed them the animation feature that would start their boat where the explorer was from and they would "sail" across the path he took to get to the New World. Students placed their boat at the sponsoring country. Then they had to make sure they clicked on the boat to add the animation. We went to Animations>Motion Paths>Draw a Line:
The students clicked on the middle of the boat and dragged their cursor (that displays a line) to their final destination. Afterwards, we went to Slideshow>Record Slideshow which launched the slide into presentation mode and they could record their voice talking about the explorer's journey. Here is a quick example that one student did involving ALL of the explorers (DISCLAIMER: All went well until Newport sailed to Richmond instead of Jamestown! hahaha):

#3 Newspaper Generator
Literally SO easy! Have your students head to The Newspaper Clipping Generator website and SUMMARIZE the MAIN IDEA of an event from history. This is a great way to integrate social students and language arts. All you have to do is enter a title for your paper, date, heading and story. Click on "Generate" and BOOM, you have this cute little creation:

#4 Timeline Maker
There are many really awesome Timeline makers out in cyberspace but here is a super EASY one that you could use in your classroom without any tech support :) Timeline Maker has a simple input screen that allows students to change the number of events, font and size for their timeline.

Here is a FREE planning sheet that contains the website address at the top if you would like for your students to pre-plan before getting the computers out. I know so many teachers who have a limited amount of time when it comes to using technology in their classrooms so this will help speed things along :)

ReadWriteThink also has an EASY Timeline Maker that you can add images to!

#5 Fakebook for Historical Figures
Many of you are probably familiar with this website but it is always a HIT. With Fakebook you can make "fake" Facebook pages for historical figures. Students first search for images that they can then upload to this site. Word of caution: This website advertises to "Search Google for images" but I would advise to have a little conversation about copyright. I wouldn't let students do a straight up Google image search to complete an activity like this and instead would use it as an opportunity to touch upon digital citizenship :)

To complete a Fakebook page, students simply enter the missing information and upload pictures:

I could keep going with technology tools for Social Studies projects! Hopefully these 5 ways will help you start off your year with something new to try out :)

If you haven't done so, be sure to check my 5 EASY Back to School Projects blog post by clicking the image below: