5 Powerful Ways to Blend Social Studies and Reading

How often do you pull out the social studies content? For many, social studies is an “if I have time” content area because it’s not a topic we get tested in at the state level. However, state tests still have informational texts on them so we need to cover this type of reading. One of the best ways to teach informational texts is to blend social studies and reading lessons together! How? Here are some simple strategies you can implement in your reading block instructions and your everyday routines. 

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Blend Social Studies and Reading by Integrating Informational Texts 

There are some moments in history that we want our students to dive deep into the historical events and learn how they changed our world today! Other times, you might just want to use nonfiction texts to teach the information reading techniques your students need. This is where you can really use social studies work during your reading time! When you are teaching these materials, you can talk about all kinds of text features like glossaries, maps, pictures, captions, and more! Where can you find such rich content? You don’t have to look too far! If you have a social studies textbook, dust it off and put it to use. If you don’t, you can always use the newspaper, the Internet, or magazines. 


Have Students Break Out Their Spyglass 

One thing that is very true about all of history is people. Have your students break out their spyglass and find out everything they can about historical figures! Historical people are a huge part of what happened and why it happened. If you think about a historical person’s personality and tweak it, you would get a whole new history! For example, if Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t preach peace, how would the fight for equal rights change? Using historical people to blend social studies and reading is great especially during Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Hispanic History Month, or really any month! You can also do this with your state’s history. 


Instead of finding all of the materials yourself, you can challenge students to do some research. Researching helps students with reading, using text features, and finding inner curiosity. Then, have them write a poem, act out a scene, or retell an event. You can use any number of reading games to help you come up with presentation ideas. 

“Today in History!”

We are all aware of the memories that pop up on our social media. If you had a “Today in History” notification in your classroom, students could read about and discuss that event. Now, this event doesn’t have to be a big event. It can be something that happened in your state or your town. For example, maybe the football team made it to state. You can share articles about these events. With a little preplanning, you could assign them to your students. For example, assign each student a day of the week or a day of the month. During your morning circles, you can have students share what happened that day in history. 

Use Technology to Teach Social Studies

I don’t know if you know this, but technology has EXPLODED in the past two years. We have more technological tools available to us now than ever before. Which is why teaching good digital citizenship and internet safety is so important in our schools today. You can teach these lessons while having students do research about social studies topics because you’re already online. Integrating the digital citizenship lesson into this time, creates a triple threat. Students are learning about internet safety, social studies, and reading! You can even throw some writing in there as well by using reading response sheets


Incorporate Read Alouds to Blending Social Studies and Reading 

Now, most of the time read alouds are used in lower elementary grades. However, these can be incredibly effective in upper elementary as well. In fact, my third, fourth, and fifth grade students loved it when I read to them! It not only helped them understand the text, it also showed them how to read because I would demonstrate my thinking. For example, sometimes when I was reading, I would skip a word on purpose and then go back to that word. I would say how difficult that word is and then showed them how to handle coming to a word that you don’t know. Better yet, I would ask them to tell me how to determine the meaning of the unknown word. 


You can model anything when you use a read aloud. If you are blending social studies and reading, you can point out how you use the text features or the connections you make to historical events. By doing this, you are teaching students how to read informational texts which will be helpful to them on the state test. 

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Whether you have a designated time for social studies or not, there is power in blending social studies and reading! When you use social studies text in reading, your students are gaining valuable reading skills they don’t get from fiction! While reading fiction is fun, it’s important to introduce nonfiction texts into your reading time! For more strategies that work, make sure you join my VIP club and follow me on social media! 

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