Middle School Social Studies Summer Learning
Virtual Field Trips
- Nature Lab: The Nature Conservancy offers 11 virtual field trips that allow students to do everything from exploring a coastal rainforest while in a canoe to unlocking the secrets of coral reefs in the Dominican Republic. Each video is about 45 minutes long.
- Yellowstone National Park: The first established National Park and popular vacation destination is now accessible to virtual travelers. The interactive maps are a great way to see the Mammoth Hot Springs and Mud Volcano, but we think kids will be psyched about the Old Faithful Geyser live-stream and the opportunity to make their own predictions for its next eruption.
- The Great Lakes: This virtual field trip from Great Lakes Now has three components: coastal wetlands, algae, and lake sturgeon. Each video is a quick five minutes.
- Boston Children’s Museum: “Walk” through all three floors of the Boston Children’s Museum on this virtual tour. Direct your kids to fun exhibits like Explore-a-Saurus and the Japanese House.
- The Smithsonian: The National Museum of Natural History’s virtual experiences are self-guided, room-by-room tours of permanent, current, and past exhibits. Make sure to send kids to the second floor Bone Hall so they can take a look at all different kinds of skeletons.
Metropolitan Museum of Art: Bring the iconic New York museum into your home! Experience The Met online with any of the 26 online galleries, including Christian Dior: Ball Gowns and The Art of Music Through Time.
- National Constitution Center: The Museum of We The People, the Constitution Center serves as a “headquarters for civic education.” Check out the Interactive Constitution section, and be sure to watch the virtual tour.
- Colonial Williamsburg: This living history museum provides a look into life in an early American community. The website offers eight different webcams, featuring areas such as the tavern, the armoury, and the market house.
- Ancient Egypt: You don’t need a time machine! Discovering Ancient Egypt has a ton of free resources, but it’s the interactive pyramid map and 3D temple reconstructions that really give it a field trip feel.
Beyond the Battlefield: Explore the Museum of the American Revolution’s new and exciting virtual distance learning programs.
For social studies, students can read one nonfiction or historical fiction book of their own choosing.
Create a childhood for a character. If your main character is an adult, try to figure out what he or she would have been like as a child. Write the story of his or her childhood in such a way that shows why he or she is the way he or she is in the novel.
Talk show invitation. Select a character, think about his or her involvements and experiences, and then figure out which talk show would most want your character on as a guest. What would they want the character to talk about? Who else would they invite on the show to address the issues the character is involved in? Write up the correspondence between the talk show host and the character in which the host explains what the character should focus on while on the show. After the show, have them exchange one more letter mentioning how they felt about what happened.
Create a slide show. Select several characters and design a slide for each of them, picking out appropriate backgrounds and pictures and then creating information that would tell a viewer about your character. Also, create links to at least five different sites that you think your character would be interested in. Then write up and post on the slide an explanation of how you made the decisions you did and what you believe this tells us about the character.
Music. After reading a novel, figure out how you would divide up the book into sections. Then select a piece of music that you think captures the feel or tone of each section. Record the pieces and if possible do voice-overs explaining what is happening in the novel during the piece of music and why you felt this piece of music fit the section of the novel.
Current events. Select five current news or feature stories from television or news magazines that you think your character would be interested in. Then explain how your character would likely respond to each of the stories and the opinions your character would probably have about what was happening in the story. (Try this website: www.newsela.com, or this one www.tweentribune.com).
Draw a scene. Think of an important scene and draw it the way you see it. Place the characters in the scene too, and then figure out where you would put yourself in relation to the characters as the scene unfolds. Then, write or tape your explanations of why you drew the scene the way you did and why you think you were where you were in the scene. What does it tell you about who you related to in the novel?
Ancient Egypt by George Hart
Betrayed! by Patricia Calvert
Blessed Miguel Pro by Ann Ball
Boy of the Painted Cave by Justin Denzel
Digging for Troy by Jill Rubalcaba
Freedom’s Children: Young Civil Rights Activists Tell Their Own Stories by Ellen Levine
Gilgamesh the Hero by Geraldine McCaughrean and David Parkins
Johnny Tremain by Ester Forbers
Leonardo Da Vinci by Diane Stanley
Lewis and Clark: Their Journey to the Pacific by Richard Sapp
Mummies, Tombs, and Treasures: Secrets of Ancient Egypt by Lila Peck
My Brother’s Keeper: Virginia’s Diary, Gettysburg, PA by Mary Pope Osborne
The Boy In the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
The Boy in the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson
The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
The Cure of Ares by Milton Lomask
The Golden Bull by Marjorie Cowley
The Legend of Bass Reeves by Gary Paulsen
The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon
To Be a Slave by Julius Lester
Winged Watchman by Hilda Van Stockum
Witnesses to Freedom: Young People Who Fought For Civil Rights by Belinda Rochelle
Written In Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland by Sally M. Walker