Ideas for Teaching Social Studies Concepts

Social Studies baffled me for a while when I first entered the arena of teaching students with significant disabilities. How do I impart all these facts to these kids and get them to comprehend it? It took me a while but one day I stumbled upon these types of books. They were great for what I needed for my classes and I hope they help someone else.

Social Studies has so much factual information that is important. I love Social Studies, history, geography etc., but it involves so many facts.  That makes it difficult sometimes for anyone with poor memory skills to learn Social studies. 

Today I wanted to share with you a little bit about a way that has worked for me.

  1. Narrow the concept you want to teach to the very basic amount your student can successfully learn. If you are teaching facts about Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King pare down the facts to only the necessary ones. Use things such as interactive books and programs. 
  2. Use pictures whenever you can. This is especially helpful when students have limited reading skills. The pictures help to convey the information text does. 
  3. Make the information come alive or make it hands-on as much as possible. Can you make it into a role-playing activity? Can the students act out information with buddy help?

Today, I want to talk about interactive books. These great books can help focus on the information while still getting the facts. 

Below is an interactive book I created about Abraham Lincoln. It has pictures, picture word and word only visuals to match on the pages. This provides another way for the information you are teaching to be reinforced. 

This is an example of 2 pages from the Abraham Lincoln interactive book. The facts are limited to one basic fact per page and each page has a visual to use with it. The visual card is placed in the gray square at the bottom center of the page once the page has been read. 

The visual cards I use most often have 3 levels in order to accommodate different levels of differentiation.  
The 3 levels are:


The picture visuals include exact pictures from the pages of the book as much as possible. This makes for an easier pairing of the card to the pages for the students. These work best for students without any reading skills but still have receptive skills. If the student needs a lot of supported help to learn or has significant reading issues, then I am only going to use the picture cards. 


 If the student needs some supported help to learn but have some reading skills, then I am only going to use the picture/text cards.  I encourage the student to use the words but the picture cues are there to help convey what the page is about.


If the student is a somewhat stronger reader and can function without the pictures then that student can use the text-only cards. The text on the cards usually mimics the text from the book pages. The text in the books is kept to basic sight words as much as possible.

In working with these books first, I  take time to read these over with the students multiple times prior to using the visuals at all.
Next, we go through the book together and work with the book using the visuals.  Once I have taught the procedure for using the book I can see if the student through the book with me and point or match the visuals in the book. Can they match the picture cards on the visuals to the picture in the book?

Once the students can do the picture's visuals in the book and even during this process, I can frequently check to see what facts the student(s) are remembering from the book.

 Abraham LIncoln Interactive Books

Books such as these work great. I often laminated them and put them in books bins and reading corners for the kids to read and peruse themselves after we learned the materials. This helped with reinforcement of the materials as well. You can find this and other interactive books in my TpT store. 

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