Question Detail

Does anyone have any ideas for teaching about Washington D.C for a 5th grade class?

Oct 8, 2015 11:28am

Should I focus on Washington D.C's history, how it got its name? On all the monuments? On just one monument? I am out of ideas for an activity

  • Social Studies
  • Planning


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    • Nov 24, 2015 5:01pm

      I created an activity for a lesson plan that was an introduction to the Byzantine Empire by looking at Istanbul. We have TARGETS for civilizations (Time Period, Allies/Enemies, Religious beliefs, Government and laws, Economy, Technology, Society/culture) and students fill out a worksheet with that information as the unit progresses. After a journal bell ringer to jog their memory on relevant historical context, I used Google Earth to show where our school is, and then zoomed out to my location, Istanbul. I then focused on a church near Roman aqueducts, asking my students what this revealed about Byzantine history and culture by following the worksheet. I had information sheets that included QR links about several other Istanbul/Byzantine locations, and my kids divided into groups to learn about those.

      Maybe you could do something similar with DC. Show one location that falls into multiple categories - say the White House - and go over it with your students. Explain how it tells us about the US government, history, and society. Then you could have them "explore" DC with their activity sheets before having a group discussion or informal lecture. Sometimes giving a short lecture with context helps students know what to look out for during the activity, but keep the activity the focus.

      Finally, what is your essential, "so-what?" question? Mine was "How can the power and legacy of the Byzantine Empire be seen today?" By seeing ruins of huge palaces and walls by using Google Earth, my kids can see that Byzantines were powerful and still impact Turks daily. Maybe a guiding question for you could be "How do the history and present of Washington, D.C. affect us in ______ (name state, town, school, etc.)?"