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Lesson Plan

Storytelling in the Social Studies Classroom

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Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Thirteen 45- to 90-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Jacqueline Hansen

Murray, Kentucky


International Literacy Association



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From Theory to Practice



In this lesson, students tell their own stories and explore the stories of other Americans. Hearing and telling these stories helps students realize that social studies is not simply the study of history, but an exploration of real people and their lives. Students begin by telling stories about their personal experiences. They then explore the character traits that promote democratic ideals and tell stories about family members who exemplify these traits. Finally, they conduct research and share stories about famous Americans. Practiced skills include reading, researching, visually representing, writing, and presenting.

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  • Doodle Splash: A picture can be worth a thousand words, especially when students use this tool to draw them themselves!

  • Bio-Cube: Historical personalities really pop when students complete this 3D biographical tool.

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Combs, M.A., & Beach, J.D. (1994). Stories and storytelling: Personalizing the social studies. The Reading Teacher, 47(6), 464471.

  • Engaging students in storytelling activities about themselves, their families, and other Americans is an effective way to pique their interest in social studies.

  • Including storytelling in the social studies curriculum develops students' understanding of democratic ideals, cultural diversity, and participatory citizenship.

  • Storytelling develops students' communication skills, motivates them to learn about the past and present, and creates a class bond through shared experiences.

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