Welcome back to another post on how to jazz up your Virginia Studies lessons. So far on the blog, we have covered everything from Virginia’s regions through Virginia’s role in the Civil War. In this post, I want to share some of my favorite ways to engage students while teaching your Virginia Studies Reconstruction unit!
Are you looking for more ways to incorporate hands-on activities into your Virginia Studies lessons? You can find all of my Virginia Studies blog posts HERE. You can also sign up for my free newsletter for Virginia teachers to learn when I upload new posts and resources just for teaching in Virginia.
Reconstruction Primary Sources
As we journey further along into the Virginia Studies curriculum, it is easier to find more primary sources for your instruction. Some places where you can easily search for primary sources include the Library of Congress and Wikimedia Commons.
I use lots of photographs throughout my Virginia Studies Reconstruction unit that help illustrate segregation. Often, I will post a picture without telling the students what is happening. I give the students time to infer what they think is happening and describe what comes to mind when they first see the picture. Then, we discuss what is actually happening in the picture and the effects of segregation on life in Virginia.
Primary sources are some of the best ways to help students understand the policies and events associated with Reconstruction in Virginia.
Virginia Studies Foldables
With Virginia Studies, students are expected to memorize lots of facts. Foldables are an easy, fun way to list or review information in social studies.
I use foldables throughout my Virginia Studies Reconstruction unit when there are several pieces of information students are expected to remember about a specific topic. For example, students create a foldable to list the problems Virginians experienced as a result of Reconstruction. They also create a foldable to explain the reasons Virginia’s cities grew following the Civil War.
Virginia Geography Review
It is important to review Virginia geography during each Virginia Studies unit. An understanding of Virginia’s geography will help students visualize and comprehend Virginia’s history.
For example, students can better visualize events when they know exactly where the events took place on a map of Virginia and what the geography of that region looks like. Students can also better understand why Virginians made certain decisions or what challenges they might have experienced when they know geography.
Part of the Virginia Studies Reconstruction SOL is having students explain why certain cities grew following the Civil War.
I have students create maps that show where certain cities are located. Students then identify which region those cities were a part of and analyze the geographical features of each region to explain how those features could cause a city to grow.
Virginia Studies Reconstruction Review Games
Every Virginia Studies unit should end with fun review activities that help students prepare for their unit test and their Virginia Studies SOL test.
There are two Virginia Studies review activities I use at the end of each of my units: task cards and an escape room challenge. These activities get students up and moving, require them to use critical thinking skills, and introduce them to questions they will see on the Virginia Studies SOL test.
I have shared lots of ways I use task cards throughout this series on teaching Virginia Studies. Recently, I created a game show with my Virginia Studies Reconstruction Task Cards. I divided my students into five teams. Then, I projected each task card onto the SMART Board and gave students time to discuss their answers as a team. After each task card, we reviewed the answer as a class, and points were awarded to teams that answered correctly. This was a fun way to use task cards because it encouraged the students to work together.
You can discover more of my favorite task card games and activities in THIS BLOG POST.
Virginia Studies Escape Room
It is no secret that I love using classroom escape rooms to teach Virginia Studies. I explain more about using classroom escape rooms to make history hands-on HERE.
My Virginia Studies Reconstruction Escape Room includes six challenges that require students to use reading, math, and critical thinking skills. As students complete each puzzle, they are reviewing the important people, places, and events that are part of the Virginia Studies SOL.
I keep using escape rooms to review Virginia Studies because I constantly hear students talk about how much they love these activities. Anytime a student is having fun learning, they are more likely to remember what they are learning.
If you want to get your students excited about social studies, use the activities described in this post in your Virginia Studies Reconstruction unit!
The activities described can be replicated in your classroom, but I know planning time is limited. If you’re short on time, I’ve got you covered! You can find all of my Virginia Studies Reconstruction resources in my store, including:
- Virginia Studies Reconstruction Unit: My unit includes detailed lesson plans, passages and comprehension questions, worksheets, digital activities, and assessments.
- Virginia Studies Reconstruction Task Cards
- Virginia Studies Reconstruction Escape Room
All of my Virginia Studies resources are also bundled together for a discounted price.
- Virginia Studies Curriculum Bundle: Includes all of my Virginia Studies unit plans.
- Virginia Studies Task Cards Bundle
- Virginia Studies Escape Rooms Bundle
The Virginia Teacher Club® is a one-of-a-kind program for upper elementary teachers in Virginia. Members receive instant access to a curriculum library of SOL-aligned math, science, social studies, and ELA resources. There are lesson plans, games, assessments, passages, digital activities, and more for EVERY SOL. By using the Virginia Teacher Club®, our members save hours of planning time every month and have access to high-quality, SOL-aligned resources that students love.
CLICK HERE to join the waitlist and be the first to know when the Virginia Teacher Club® reopens for new members.