Although there are social studies lessons, activities and projects for preschoolers, your child's preschool social studies actually begins as he enters his classroom.
The Classroom as a First Lesson in Social Studies
Social studies is the study of how people relate to one another, their environment and to the world they live in. When a child enters his preschool classroom, it is generally the first time he is interacting inside a community that is outside his family unit and home.
Social studies learning takes place in the classroom in many ways including:
- The formation of friendship and bonds with other children
- Learning how the decision making process works in a group setting
- Development of social skills and personal responsibility
- Learning to share and deal with their emotions
- Accepting the differences between people
- Learning community responsibility and a sense of community pride
Beyond the Classroom
Preschool teachers expand the classroom social studies learning experience by helping the children gain an understanding of their neighborhood through stories, games, guest speakers and class trips. Learning about local stores, banks and libraries in their town helps the preschoolers to gain a sense of their community.
Social Studies Activities for Preschoolers
There are many activities that are both interesting and fun to help build preschoolers social studies skills that are suitable for a classroom or home school setting.
A creative and fun activity to help develop spacial thinking, also known as geographical thinking, involves basic mapping skills. Have the children draw or paint their physical surroundings such as their classroom, playground or neighborhood. As they reproduce their world on paper using paint or crayons, have a group discussion about map direction and how things are represented on their papers. Explain how their drawings stand for actual things and how they relate to one another in their actual surroundings.
Learning about people from other countries and how they live is an important aspect of social studies. Explore the music, food, dress and art of a different culture with your preschoolers. Have them sample the food and dance to the music. Read a story about a child from that culture and discuss the cultural differences with the children.
Another activity that preschoolers enjoy is cutting and gluing. Combine these fine motor development skills into a social studies lesson by giving the children old magazines and having them cut out a picture. Let them each tell the group why they choose the picture and how they think the people in the picture are feeling. Another activity is to add more pictures from the magazines and glue them onto a paper or cardboard to make a collage. Have them share their collages with the group and talk about the pictures.
Social Studies Books for Preschoolers
Teacher resource guides and instructional aid books, as well as children's books that offer social studies lessons and skills for preschoolers, are great to use with with young children.
Teacher Resource Guides and Instructional Aids
- Social Studies for the Preschool/Primary Child by Carol Seefeldt
- Social Studies for Children: A Guide to Basic Instruction by Jesus Garcia and John U. Michaels
Social Studies Skills Books for Preschoolers
Social Studies Resources for Preschoolers
There are many excellent resources online that offer ideas, themes and lesson plans for teaching preschoolers social studies skills. These websites include:
- Sites for Teachers has hundreds of links with many resources relating to social studies for preschoolers.
- Family Education offers excellent preschool social studies games.
- Lesson Planz has several great ideas for social studies at the preschool level.
- Gayle's Preschool Rainbow is an excellent website with activities, projects and ideas geared to social studies for preschoolers.
- Everything Preschool has a wonderful Community Helpers theme.
More Social Studies Resources
There are many different fields of social studies including civics, economics, history and geography. As preschoolers grow and learn about the world around them, their preschool social studies lessons and experiences help to form a solid base for future learning.