Vocabulary in Social Studies | Elementary Social Studies

While I have taught most of the upper elementary grades in my teaching career, the one I was most excited to teach was 5th grade. I was chomping at the bit to move to a 5th grade classroom for one reason: the Social Studies curriculum. Not to say that I didn’t love my 5 years of teaching United States Regions to fourth graders (sense the sarcasm?), but the idea of teaching the American Revolution, Westward Expansion, and the Civil War was too good to pass up. While these topics are exciting to teach, my first year teaching 5th grade I found that my students were really struggling to retain the Social Studies lessons. Whether it was important people, battles, or events, my students were confused and overwhelmed, which was leading to decreased engagement. I learned very quickly that there is one major thing that I was leaving out of my Social Studies lessons and one critical fact: you MUST emphasize vocabulary in Social Studies.

My second year teaching 5th grade, I decided to put a strong focus on vocabulary during my Social Studies lessons. Before each unit, I would compile a list of the most important vocabulary words and phrases that I wanted students to know. Each day I would be sure to point out these vocabulary words throughout the lesson, I would review them at the end of the lesson, and I would even sprinkle them in throughout the day! When I was calling groups of students to line up for lunch? I would quiz them on a vocabulary word! When we had a few minutes to kill before specials, I would quiz them on a vocabulary word! During guided reading centers, they would make flash cards to help them learn their vocabulary words. These words would follow us everywhere.

What happened when I did this? The kids were EXCITED about Social Studies. They knew the words, so they understood the content, their confidence grew, and Social Studies became the subject that we all looked forward to the most.

I hope you know by now that my goal as a resource creator is to take real resources that I have created for my own students, and make them accessible for YOU. I want to save you the HOURS of work and prep time that I spent, so you can spend that time with your families, sleeping, or sipping wine and watching ‘The Bachelor’ (it’s your time, no judgement, I’m probably doing the same thing). That being said, I have begun taking my own Social Studies vocabulary resources that I used in my own classroom, and creating NO PREP, Print-and-Go resources that you can use with your students!

My new line of Social Studies Vocabulary resources include:

Vocabulary Slides

Differentiated Vocabulary Trackers

Extra Vocabulary Practice

What I love most about these vocabulary resources is that they include important vocabulary words, people, and events, so students are able to master their Social Studies units using a very well-rounded collection of vocabulary words and phrases!

I am all about giving teachers the opportunity to try something out before committing to it (every classroom is unique, as we all know!), so I have a FREE DOWNLOAD of a portion of one of my Social Studies Vocabulary resources available for you to try! Take a peek by clicking the link below, and see if it can work for you and your students!

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