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Expanding mental challenges in elementary social studies

Often early childhood social studies materials and lesson plans focus learning on ideas and information that students already know. To get more out of your social studies lessons, be sure to plan for various levels of mental challenges.

Below is an example of a planning format that might help you build more challenges into your social studies units. The example shown is for a unit on clothing, but it could be adapted for any subject or grade level.

Clothing unit for 2nd grade

Activities with. . . .

Low mental challenges:

Medium mental challenges:

High mental challenges:

List types of fabrics.

Name fabrics and tell how the fabrics were made.

Name a fabric and tell where you would find people using that fabric and tell how it relates to their environment.

Pick a picture of clothing or try on a piece of clothing from long ago.

Describe and compare clothing from long ago and today.

Discuss how various inventions have changed the clothing choices we have today.

Tell careers in the clothing industry.

Choose a career in the clothing industry and tell why you might be good for that career.

Create a job description and application for a job in the clothing industry. Interview other students as possible job candidates.

List places where you can buy clothes.

Track the path of a t-shirt from cotton on the farm to the shelves of a store. Put the steps in order.

Use catalogs and store fliers to determine the best place to purchase a shirt based on cost, quality, location, etc. Make a recommendation based on your findings.

See Choosing challenging learning activities.