Category Archives: Social Studies Enrichment

Social Studies Mini Spark #57-Could baby dinosaurs live in the Artic?

Scientists never thought that dinosaurs lived in the Arctic and Antarctic. But they were wrong! In the 1960s we started discovering dinosaur remains in these harsh environments. Read this article about dinosaurs to find out what scientist have discovered.
To earn this mini spark, answer each of these questions from the point of view of a baby dinosaur.

How did we find evidence of dinosaur reproduction in the Arctic?

Locate Prince Creek Formation on a map. How would you describe the winters here?

Why do we now think that both large and small dinosaur species lived in the Arctic year round?

We think that dinosaurs must have been well-adapted to survive the Arctic winter. What adaptations do we think they may have had?






Social Studies Spark #56 What Is the Pineapple Express?

This mini spark will introduce your to a current events resource, the World from A-Z, that promotes critical thinking, civil discourse, and compassion in your classroom.

Watch this current events video that will help you understand the Pineapple Express along with many other topics.

Choose several of the prompts below to answer to show what you learn from the A-Z video.

  1. What is the purpose of the light festival in Copenhagen mentioned in the video?
  2. Explain what an atmospheric river is and its impact on California.
  3. How do atmospheric rivers play a role in providing rainfall on the West Coast according to scientists?
  4. Describe the concept of neuralgia discussed in the video.
  5. What potential benefits and concerns are associated with brain computer interfaces like Neuralink?
  6. Share the historical significance of February 6th as mentioned in the video.
  7. How is scorpion venom used in various fields, as explained in the video?
  8. Describe the process of extracting scorpion venom as outlined in the video

Check out more episodes at The World A-Z Video choices 

Link to EY badge-The World from A-Z

Social Studies Spark #55 The Largest River in Our World is in the Sky!

Learn about the Amazon Rainforest and how the Wampís Nation has been protecting the forest and the largest river in the world. Watch the video and keep track of all of the positive ways the Wampís people are helping our world.

To earn the mini spark, imagine you are a scientist studying the Amazon rainforest. Write a  journal entry describing the incredible biodiversity you have observed and explain why it is important to protect this unique ecosystem. Please use include these words in your journal entry.

  • Ecosystem: A community of living organisms, along with their non-living environment, interacting as a system.
  • Biodiversity: The variety of living organisms in a particular habitat or ecosystem.
  • Indigenous: Originating or occurring naturally in a particular place.

Social Studies Spark #54 Planting Trees

Can it be bad to plant a tree? Before watching the video spend a few minutes thinking about possible times/situations when you would not want to plant a tree.

Watch this TED EDU video about helping our environment by planting trees. This same video is also about how our environment can be hurt by planting trees. While you watch take notes tracking new, interesting, and important information.

After you are done write an interview between a reported and a tree. Choose at least 3 of the questions below to ask the tree.

Sample script

Reporter– Hello, Aspen. Thank you for agreeing to meet with me. Will you please tell me the difference between afforestation and reforestation?

Aspen-Of course, I am glad to be here. The words sound similar, and they are but there is a difference between them. Afforestation is the planting of trees in places devoid of any forest, while reforestation is the practice of restoring recently degraded forests.

Question Choices

  1. Why are trees considered a solution to curb climate change?
  2. What is the Bonn Challenge and what is its goal?
  3. Why do companies plant trees?
  4. Why are natural forests better at carbon storage compared to plantations?
  5. Why is it important to consider the species of trees and the lands when planting trees?
  6. What are the unintended consequences of planting trees in regions that naturally reflect sunlight?
  7. What is the current approach of Chile in tree planting efforts?
  8. What are some methods mentioned in the video to re-green the planet?
  9. When is it bad to plant trees?

Social Studies Spark #53: The Constitution!

Sunday, September 17th of 2023 was Constitution Day!

Constitution Day commemorates the formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution by thirty-nine brave men on September 17, 1787, recognizing all who are born in the U.S.
or by naturalization, have become citizens.
On September 17, 1787, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention met for the last time to sign the document they had created.

The Constitution is the framework for the federal government of the United States. It is the highest form of law in the country. The Constitution creates the branches of government and gives them the power to govern. However, it also protects the citizens of the United States and guarantees their basic rights.

A primary aim of the Constitution was to create a government that would be powerful enough to run the country, but would not impose on people’s or state’s rights. To avoid too much power being held by one person or group, they created the Balance of Power between the three branches of government: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial.

Articles of the Constitution

The Constitution is organized into seven articles:

  • Legislative Power
  • Executive Power
  • Judicial Power
  • States’ Powers and Limits
  • Amendments
  • Federal Power
  • Ratification


In order for the Constitution to go into effect, 9 of the 13 states needed to ratify it. The first state to ratify the Constitution was Delaware on December 7, 1787. The last state was Rhode Island in May of 1790.

Interesting Facts about the Constitution

  • James Madison is often called the father of the Constitution since so much of his work and ideas were incorporated into the final document.
  • Governor Morris wrote the Constitution and is widely credited with authoring the famous preamble.
  • 39 of the 55 delegates at the convention signed the document. Many who refused did so because of the lack of a Bill of Rights.
  • The US Constitution is the oldest written constitution still used in the world today.
  • The Constitution that is on display at the National Archives was penned by Jacob Shallus.
  • There are currently 27 amendments to the Constitution.

Watch the Schoolhouse Rock video below to learn more about the Constitution:

Finally, go to this link to try a quiz!

How did you do? Answer in the comment section below.

Social Studies Spark #52: A Virtual Tour of The Acropolis!

What is the Acropolis of Athens, Greece?

Ancient cities were often built around a fortress on top of a hill. When a city spread to the area below, the high part came to be called the acropolis, which means “city at the top” in Greek. The best-known acropolis is in Athens, Greece. It was designated a World Heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1987.

The buildings of the Athens Acropolis were made mostly of white marble. Parts of some of the buildings, including a temple called the Erechtheum, are still standing today. The Erechtheum had a porch with marble columns in the shape of female figures.

The most famous surviving building is the Parthenon. The Parthenon was built almost 2,500 years ago and was dedicated to the goddess, Athena. Athens was later ruled by Christians who made the Parthenon a church. In the 1400s, Turkish forces took control of the Acropolis and made the Parthenon an Islamic mosque. In 1687, during a war, some gunpowder stored there exploded, destroying the middle of the building.

You can take a virtual field trip to the amazingly historic place! Click the link below to explore parts of all of The Acropolis! Click “Begin” and then note the color coding to click on your chosen spot on the map. Click “go” and have a look around! Make sure to read the descriptions and learn all about this awesome place without actually going there yourself!


Social Studies Spark #51: Ancient Adventures Creative Writing Project

Which era or person will get your creativity flowing? Watch the video above and get  inspired to write with history!
Take the excitement of history and mix it with your imagination to create ancient adventures!
You can pick any person, place or event from history to inspire your mini-saga, a story told in just 100 words that must have a beginning, a middle & an ending. It MUST be original! You can be inspired by other stories, but your mini-saga must be written in your own words. HERE are some examples of other students’ mini-sagas! Go check them out!
From discovering a pharaoh’s tomb, or a soldier in the trenches, to being a president or an explorer it’s a great way to tie in creative writing with history to have a bit of fun, and to create an original short story.
Use THIS LINK to download a graphic organizer to help you get started!
We can’t wait to read your stories!

Social Studies Spark #50: All About Thanksgiving!

Next week is Thanksgiving! Did you know that Thanksgiving always falls on a Thursday? Thanksgiving has been an annual holiday in the United States since 1863. However, the First Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621. Here are five things we know about the First Thanksgiving!

1. More than 100 people attended
The Wampanoag Indians who attended the first Thanksgiving had occupied the land for thousands of years and were key to the survival of the colonists during the first year they arrived in 1620, according to the National Museum of the American Indian. After the Pilgrims successfully harvested their first crops in the fall of 1621, at least 140 people gathered to eat and partake in games, historians say. No one knows exactly what prompted the two groups to dine together, but there were at least 90 native men and 50 Englishmen present. They most likely ran races and shot at marks as forms of entertainment, Wall said. The English likely ate off of tables, while the native people dined on the ground.

2. They ate for three days
The festivities went on for three days, according to primary accounts. The nearest village of native Wampanoag people traveled on foot for about two days to attend. It took them so long to get there that it didn’t make sense for them to turn around and go home after the meal.

3. Deer topped the menu
Venison headlined the meal, although there was a healthy selection of fowl and fish, according to the Pilgrim Hall Museum, which cited writings by Plymouth leaders Edward Winslow and William Bradford. There was a “great store of wild turkeys” to be eaten, as well as ducks and geese, wrote Bradford, who was the governor. Winslow said Massasoit, the leader of the Wampanoag people, contributed five deer to the dinner.

4. It wasn’t called Thanksgiving
There’s no evidence that the 1621 feast was called Thanksgiving, and the event was not repeated for at least a decade, experts say. Still, it is said to be the inspiration behind the now traditional annual gathering and a testament to the cooperation of two groups of people.

5. The peace was short-lived
Early European colonizers and Native Americans lived in peace through a symbiotic relationship for about 10 years until thousands of additional settlers arrived. Up to 25,000 Englishmen landed in the New World between 1630 and 1642, after a plague drastically cut the native population by what’s believed to be more than half. The arrival of new settlers prompted a fight for land and rising animosity. War exploded in 1675, years after Massasoit and Bradford died and power fell to their successors. Many Native Americans have long marked Thanksgiving as a day of somber remembrance.

Click the link below to play a game that explores Wampanoag life prior to European settlement and the year leading up to the 1621 harvest feast, today known as the “First Thanksgiving.” The game investigates the interactions between the Wampanoag people of Patuxet and the earliest colonists known as the Pilgrims by exposing players to archaeological artifacts from the museum’s collections, primary source documents, and oral stories told from generation to generation.



Social Studies Spark #49: The Museum of the Fur Trade

This summer, my family & I took a trip to western Nebraska and visited the Museum of the Fur Trade in Chadron, Nebraska! I learned so many things about the Fur Trade!

If you’re not familiar with the fur trade, watch this quick video:

The Museum of the Fur Trade was created in Chadron, Nebraska because it is located on the original James Bordeaux trading post, which is an important historical site. This trading post (pictured above) was established in the fall of 1837 as a site for the American Fur Company to conduct business with the Native Americans who spent their winters in the area.

The trading post was reconstructed on its original foundation in 1956 & formally opened to the public later that year.

Learn more about the Museum of the Fur Trade by watching this video:

Finally, go check out the museum itself by clicking this link:

What history did you learn about this summer?

Insert your experiences in the comments below!

Social Studies Spark #48: African-American Athletes in the Winter Olympics!


February marks the beginning of Black History Month, and it is also the month when the Winter Olympics of 2022 kick off! This post honors both of those events.

There have been some big moments for Black athletes in the Winter games. Of course, the Winter Olympics is not historically known for its racial diversity, but that hasn’t stopped a few superstars of color from making their mark, like figure skater Debi Thomas, who became Team USA’S first Black athlete to win an Olympic medal! It was in 1988 in Calgary that she took home the bronze.

And it wasn’t until 2002, just 20 years ago, that Vonetta Flowers became the first Black athlete from any country to win gold in the Winter Olympics. She was a Team USA bobsledder at the Salt Lake City games.

In Beijing, keep an eye out for Erin Jackson, who is back at the Olympics after becoming the first Black woman to qualify for the US Olympic Long Speed Skating Team four years ago.

And one of my personal favorites, the Jamaican four-man bobsled team, they’re back at Beijing– this time around, their first Winter Olympics in more than 20 years. And if folks recall, “Cool Runnings” may have an opportunity for a comeback.

As you watch the Olympics this month, who do you think is an outstanding athlete of color?

Comment below!