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Interactive Whiteboard Social Studies Tips

Find easy-to-use Interactive Whiteboard teaching tips and make the most of Social Studies Online Activities on your Interactive Whiteboard.


PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

Community Helpers
Learn about the important jobs that people do in a community. (K–2)

Practical Tips:

  1. Want students to learn about community helpers and learn to read at the same time? Display each community helper and have students read along with the audio. Discuss with students what they have learned and any connections or interactions they have had with this community helper in their own community.
  2. Determine students’ prior knowledge about their community helpers by completing a KWL chart with an Interactive Whiteboard. Display KWL on Interactive Whiteboard and have students share what they already know and want to know about community helpers. Then look at the slide shows and read about each of the community helpers included on the site. As a class, write down what they have learned about community helpers from the activity.

Go to Community Helpers
Go to Teacher's Guide

Explore Ellis Island with video and photos, and meet recent immigrants. (K–8)

Practical Tips:

  1. Use the “Tour of Ellis Island” to introduce a unit on immigration. Have different students click through the tour on the Whiteboard. Students can take notes in their social studies notebook as they tour Ellis Island.
  2. Integrate social studies and math while learning about immigration. Teach students how to read a line graph and a multi-line graph using the immigration graphs provided. Model reading a table using the “Number of Immigrants by Country” table and questions provided.
  3. Use the “Smart Quotes” mini-lesson in the “Immigration Writing Workshop” to introduce or review using quotation marks in writing. Students can drag the quotation marks into the proper places in the sentences and check their answers. Use the printable version to allow each student to follow along at his or her seat.

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The First Thanksgiving
Tour the Mayflower, meet a Pilgrim, and learn about The First Thanksgiving. (K–12)

Practical Tips:

  1. Take a tour of the Mayflower. Before beginning the tour create a true or false sheet using the information they will learn on the tour. Have students read over the true or false sheet before beginning the tour. As students watch and listen to the tour on the Whiteboard, they can complete the true or false activity.
  2. Model how to properly write a letter using the “Letters From History” found on this site. Display the letters written on the Whiteboard and review the different parts of a proper letter. Students can then do research on The First Thanksgiving using this activity and other books. Once students have finished their research they can write their own letters about what they have learned.
  3. Have students compare and contrast the life of a Pilgrim to that of a Wampanoag. Display the “Daily Life in Plimoth” section of "The First Thanksgiving" and discuss the daily life of the pilgrims and Wampanoag with students and have them complete a Venn diagram or T-Chart to show that they have learned.

Go to The First Thanksgiving
Go to Teacher's Guide

Celebrate Winter Holidays
Explore the history and traditions behind Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. (2–8)

Practical Tips:

  1. Investigate three popular winter holidays with these Interactive Whiteboard resources. Display one of the holidays on the Whiteboard and invite different students to click on a section of the scrapbook to learn about the holiday. Once the class has reviewed the different sections of the scrapbook, have them write a letter to a family member or friend telling them about the holiday.
  2. After learning about each holiday by displaying the sections on the Whiteboard, have students turn to a partner and tell them about their favorite tradition or memory from a winter holiday that they celebrate. Students can then turn their discussion into a descriptive personal narrative.
  3. Print out the PDF version of the “My Holiday Scrapbook” for each student. Display the scrapbook on the Whiteboard and fill one in together before students begin to show how to include specific details to make their scrapbook more enjoyable for others to read.
  4. Tips for other items on this page:
  • Ask students to read through the different ways people celebrate the New Year.
  • Have students fold a piece of paper into four sections and draw what they visualize based on the description of each type of New Year.
  • Label each section and display on a bulletin board to share what they learned about other cultures and countries with other students. The same can be done with the “Religious Commemorations” and “Harvest Festivals” pages.

Go to Celebrate Winter Holidays
Go to Teacher's Guide

Black History
Meet famous African Americans, listen to jazz, and explore an interactive time line. (3–8)

Practical Tips:

  1. Use the “Meet and Publish” articles to teach nonfiction reading strategies and skills such as summarizing, identifying main ideas and details, fact vs. opinion, questioning, text structures, or note taking as a whole class or in small guided reading groups.
  2. Use the articles as a basis for students to write an opinion piece or persuasive piece of writing. Project and discuss articles before writing. Students can write about how they would feel if they were in that person’s position, and add any life connections they can make to the article. This can be used during Black History Month or a unit on Civil Rights.
  3. Project article on the Whiteboard and read with a small reading group to teach determining importance by identifying the most important events in each person’s life. Students can then create and decorate a time line to display on a bulletin board to share the information with other students.

Go to Black History
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Scholastic News
Engage with current events through news stories, quizzes, and polls. (3–8)

Practical Tips:

  1. Use the leveled top news story appropriate for your grade level as a morning activity. Print out news article and make a copy for each student. When students enter the classroom in the morning, they have to read the article in order to help the class complete the activity sheet together. Display the activity sheet that corresponds with the article on the Interactive Whiteboard and have volunteers from the class come up and fill in the answers.
  2. These nonfiction articles are great for teaching reading skills such as cause and effect, identifying main ideas and details, fact vs. opinion, etc. Display article on Whiteboard and read as a class, practicing the reading skill. If you are working on distinguishing main ideas and details, the students can underline the main idea in one color and details in another color. Once you have modeled with one article, print out a different one and have the students practice independently.
  3. Use the weekly ethical dilemma as a morning activity. As students come in, have the dilemma on the Interactive Whiteboard. Have students write their response in their Writer’s Notebook. When all students have finished, have a whole class discussion to enhance their understanding of ethics and their conflict resolution skills.
  4. Watch news videos to take a break from reading news. Students can write down or discuss their reactions to or opinions on featured topics.

Go to Scholastic News
Go to Teacher's Guide

Our America
Travel back in time to learn about American history. (3–8)

Practical Tips:

  1. Integrate math and social studies. Use the recipe for fresh ginger cake found in the “Colonial Period: Make Arts & Crafts” section to teach students measurement. Display recipe on Whiteboard and talk about the different types of measurements used to make cake. Then have students use those measurements and make their own cakes. Have students calculate how much of each ingredient they would need if they doubled or tripled the recipe.
  2. Use the “Design a Period Home Interior” as a center for students during a “Colonial Times” unit of study. Have students create rooms using what they learned about the time period. If they make mistakes, they can read about each item and decide which to remove to make the room correct for the time period. Or, students can be assigned teams to choose items to put into the room. Display the activity, and have students choose a wall type, a table, a chair, a toy, and other items they would put into their team’s room. Have them write down their choices as you scroll through them. Then have teams come to the board and build their rooms based on their list. See which team includes the most correct items.
  3. Use the “Make Arts & Crafts” section of each time period to model for students how to write a step-by-step piece. Display the “Arts & Crafts” directions and discuss what they have in common, and what the students would need to create a successful step-by-step piece of writing. Have students come up with an activity that is connected to the time period, if you are doing a unit of study on it, or choose some other activity to write a step-by-step piece about. Have students refer to the models on the Whiteboard to write their step-by-step piece for their activity.

Go to Our America
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If You Were President
Make choices for the country and report them in your newspaper. (3–12)

Practical Tips:

  1. Model activity for students on Interactive Whiteboard. Discuss the importance of the choices the president has to make. Take a class vote to allocate the budget.
  2. Once students understand the activity they can complete it independently or with a partner at a center or in the computer lab. Have students print out their newspapers at the end of the activity and create a class display.

Go to If You Were President

World War II Remembered
Experience this era through the memories of those who survived. (4–8)

Practical Tips:

  1. Before learning about World War II, help students gain an understanding of what life was like during the 1940s in the United States. Display the pictures of the living room and kitchen in the “Home Life” section of the activity on the Interactive Whiteboard. Have students make inferences about the room and what they think life was like during that time period. Students can then come up to the board and explore the room to see if their inferences were correct.
  2. Taking notes without plagiarizing is a very important skill that students need to be able to do independently. Choose one of the areas of this activity that is mainly text. Display section on Interactive Whiteboard. Explain to students that when they take notes, they don’t want to copy the text word for word, but to put it in their own words. Read a paragraph with students and determine which ideas are most important and underline them. Model with students how to put the underlined information in their own words. Continue modeling and have students write in their notebooks the information in their own words.
  3. Build students’ background knowledge of events that led to the start of World War II while teaching how to read a time line. Display the time line of Pearl Harbor on the Whiteboard and talk about the time line and how dates are displayed in intervals. Then have different students click on and read about the different events leading up to Pearl Harbor and the start of World War II.

Go to World War II Remembered
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The Underground Railroad
Follow the historic journey from slavery to freedom. (4–12)

Practical Tips:

  1. Listen to the journey of the Underground Railroad as you would a video, on the Whiteboard with the whole class. Then work to use what they learned to fill in the “Secret Letter” by dragging the words into the blank spots on the Whiteboard.
  2. Review the terms students need to know that were used on the Underground Railroad by playing an anagram game with the Whiteboard.
  3. Review the steps of escaping using the Underground Railroad with a sentence arrange activity on the Whiteboard.
  4. Use the “Compare Two Worlds” maps to discuss the differences between the North and the South before the Civil War and how the population and economy might have influenced people’s ways of thinking. This is good for whole class discussion and making inferences. Have students look at various maps and discuss with a small group or partner how the economy and population of the North and South influenced people’s lives. Invite students to share their thoughts with the class. Use the “Questions to Think About” to turn the activity into a discussion/competition between groups.

Go to The Underground Railroad
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Susan Cheyney

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