So, I recently went on a mission to find something that I could use for social studies. Something fun, something engaging, something that would get all of the important information across in the little time we have. I didn't want worksheets or boring reading passages. I wanted the kids to be involved. Then, right when I was about to give up, I found something called TownBuilder and I couldn't be happier!
TownBuilder is a wonderful year-long curriculum developed by Debbie Bryant. I do not know Debbie personally and she didn't ask me to review her product. I just love it so much that I think it deserves a spot on my blog. TownBuilder takes all of the social studies strands and integrates them into a class project in which you and your students will build a town from scratch! Starting with a large map, your town will grow from unsettled land into a modern town. Along the way, your students will learn about map skills, landforms, natural resources, needs and wants, government, civics, culture, and more!
Debbie based the unit on Ohio's social studies standards which is where she lives. I am in Florida and was worried that it wouldn't all match up. This turned out to be no problem at all. As my class has begun building our town, I have added in explorers and Native Americans when appropriate. In fact, it has fit in perfectly. When explorers came to our land, it was the perfect opportunity to talk about the tribes already settled in the area and what that would mean for them and the pioneers.
We're now ready to start settling in. Earlier this week, my students practiced their listening and speaking skills by debating whether we should build our town in the east or the west. They had to consider the land, the resources available, and where the native American tribes are already settled. I was really impressed by the thoughtful opinions the kids expressed. After the debate, we took a vote and have decided to start our town in the east. They are very excited! Most of all, they are highly engaged and interested in learning.
Go ahead and check out Debbie's TownBuilder pack for yourself! Here are a few pictures of what it's like.
This is the large map and how it progresses from unsettled land to a modern town...