Want to Improve Your Child's Social Studies Skills?
Enroll your child for the Atlas Mission – the ultimate learning companion for kids.
Enroll your child for the Atlas Mission – the ultimate learning companion for kids.
If you are like me, getting your kid off of the T.V. or computer screen (and sometimes even other screens all in the same day), is a constant challenge.
You may have flashes of your kid in the future, sitting in your house when they are 30, still in front of a screen – just tiny, fleeting flashes.
We all know eventually they’re going to be happy, successful members of society – who are definitely not living in our basement – and getting them on the right path is easier than you think.
Unglue their eyes from those screens with very little yelling, stomping, or my favorite – eye-rolling, with these kindergarten social science activities for kids. They are simple, totally fun, and cover all the basic areas of social science a kindergartener needs.
I’m not going to lie… negotiating with a kindergartener can be absolutely hilarious when it isn’t complete insanity, which is why this game is perfect to teach your kid one of the basic foundations of human social interaction – trade.
Here’s how you set it up. First, set up a game “board” that has each end (about 3 inches or so) divided into about six boxes. Create little cards or chips that can fit in those boxes.
These will represent resources for basic needs – food, water, and shelter, as well as additional wants – medicine, clothing, and technology. You can phrase technology as “better fishing boat,” or for a kid like my boys, maybe “awesome armor” would be better.
For a first game and to make the lesson super clear, only create one chip of each resource. This makes it almost impossible for your kiddo to somehow end up with all the basic resources, missing out on the whole point of the need for trade.
Draw a dividing line in the middle of your board, shuffle the resource chips or cards, and deal them out on each side of the line face up. The area between the middle line and a player’s end boxes represents “nature.”
Now, let your kid go first to decide whether to take a resource from his side of nature to put in one of his boxes or trade to you for something he doesn’t have yet. First one to collect all the basic needs wins.
You can really stretch this game by experimenting with the number of each resource you shuffle in, the number of resources altogether, etc. What if you shuffle in no water? Yes, you are rigging the game for you both to lose… boom, lesson on scarcity.
The options are endless… you’re welcome.
Now, your kid will understand:
1. That there is a difference between needs and wants.
2. That resources are scarce, so
3. Trade is essential for survival and is mutually beneficial.
This is more than most adults understand.
To make this super easy, I even created a printable version of the basic game for you lovelies.
Enroll your child for the Atlas Mission and let your child play with this award-winning educational program. Your child will become better at social studies without even realizing it!
No, no, not you, no matter how annoying that one place is or that one neighbor is. This is for your little dreamer. It’s pretty straightforward. Let your kid create her own community on a large piece of material. Posterboard might be the best, but anything you can draw on will work.
She can draw it or build it with Legos, clay, or whatever else you have around. You might have to explain what a community is to get her started.
You might start off with questions like, “Do you know where we live? Can you tell me some places we go?” Explain that the place you live in is her community and includes all those places and people she sees day to day.
Now, tell her to make the best community ever! If she gets stumped, ask her some questions in broad strokes like, “Who will be there to help people? What kinds of things will we do for fun? Where can we find all the things we need like food or drinks?”
If, by the end, there is a vital piece of the community missing, make it a game. “Hey, let’s pretend I’m a person in your city! Oh no! I hurt myself, and I need some help to make it better. Where do I go to get help?”
No, Mommy additions, such as Old Navy, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, any other “mall” type store, or places that sell alcoholic beverages, are not allowed. If you are totally feeling inspired though, you could definitely do your own dream community.
Now, your kid will understand and appreciate all the people and places that make a community function.
Okay, I’m going to be honest – I have occasionally gotten obsessed with ancestry research. That is some fascinating stuff, man! It can really suck you in, which makes it kind of a perfect educational activity.
It is one of those rare moments where you are acting in a way that a kindergartener totally understands, and he gives you that look like, “I get it, man. I get it.” Anyway, I won’t deny how happy I am that this fits with social science activities, woot!
Now, making a family tree can be very simple with names connected by lines, or you can draw an actual tree with names and pictures, if you have extras, or drawings. As long as the connections between people are clear, you can do this however you want.
If you have some knowledge of your family tree already, you can guide your little one in tracing the branch that goes back the farthest. Do this over several days if you need to.
Take the time to answer questions your kid has and describe the different times and places these people were living in. Understanding the connections between the past and the present is one of the foundations of the social sciences.
Only do this for as long as your little one is interested though. Kindergarteners might only be interested as far back as they can concretely grasp.
For example, my children know their great-grandparents, so they can probably understand the great-grandparents of their great-grandparents. Beyond that would probably be pushing it.
Make notes of when and where these family members lived and any significant changes in location. Show these places to your child on a map or globe, which you can also find online if you don’t have one on hand.
Now your kid understands the basic idea of chronology, that there are connections between the past and the present, some variations in culture and daily life among places in location and time, and a good bit of geography.
And you might even come across some juicy details that rival daytime T.V.
Even though the economic philosopher in me wants to make this activity about what money is and things like inflation, let’s just give the kindergarteners a few more years before we get to that, shall we?
Starting this activity is ridiculously easy. Get some coins and/or bills out and examine them with your little one. Kindergarteners are fascinated with money. You will have their attention like nothing you have seen before.
If you have any vital reminders (aka. things you’ve told them a bazillion times but they seem to never have heard it), NOW is the time. Throw those out there right now while those eyeballs are waiting for the next awesome thing you tell them about this money.
After you have talked about the different symbols on the money, say to your kid, “Now, we know why these symbols mean something, but why do you think they decided to put them on the money?”
This will make for a crazy discussion. That is the point this time though, just stretching the thinking skills.
Now, the next part is also super easy. Let your kid make their own money. It doesn’t matter what they use, although using something shiny resembles coins, and who doesn’t like shiny? “I’m so shiny….”
If you don’t understand that, I’m sorry. I’ve seen Moana at least ten times.
Anyway, remind him that the pictures and words on the coins and/or bills you looked at mean something important to the place that made them. Encourage him in doing the same with his.
You can also do this with flags, stamps, family crests, and other things.
Now your kid understands what symbols are and some idea of why they are used on things like money.
Some people love snuggling up inside during winter, drinking hot chocolate, getting to see snow. I am not one of those people, especially since winter also means my kids are indoors waiting for me to entertain them.
It’s like the only time T.V. actually gets boring for them once in a while.
Luckily, for all even-more-bogged-down-than-ever parents, we can make it a little fun with a social science activity that makes winter holidays mean more than just waiting for presents.
You can find a lot of great resources on different winter holidays throughout the world. This site is a great intro for kindergarteners – just the right amount of information to show the variety of holidays and beautiful pictures for each.
Check out a globe or map at the same time or shortly after to connect the holidays with the different places that celebrate them. If you want to go crazy you could print out a map and have your kid glue these adorable symbols on it.
Now, your child knows there is a variety of things that have special meaning to the different people all over the world… and maybe that there are things that can sometimes be more fun than T.V.
So that covers it – all five basic areas of the social sciences! I hope you guys love these kindergarten social science activities as much as I loved figuring out which ones were the best!
P.S. Did you know that the Atlas Mission is the only educational program that teaches your child ALL the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century?
It covers both core skills like reading, writing & STEM, as well as 21st century skills like creativity, critical thinking, problem solving & coding.
Atlas Mission – the new educational program for 3-7 year old children that increases their awareness of other countries and cultures.
Danielle Rhymes creates educational content for the Atlas Mission. She is a stay-at-home mom who is passionate about education. When not chasing down or instilling life lessons in little ones, she also enjoys crocheting, chocolate, and Good Housekeeping.