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Social Studies Projects & Ideas for PBL History, Geography & Civics

Heidi Reina, M.S., Ed, is an educational technology integrator. She teaches coding to teens using project-based learning.

Social Studies Projects for Kids

The Map Probe 2, a game for students to model a new downtown for Los Angeles. In this model big blocks are freeways and other blocks are buses.

The Map Probe 2, a game for students to model a new downtown for Los Angeles. In this model big blocks are freeways and other blocks are buses.

These social studies projects take your students beyond dioramas and research papers to authentic learning, through community and civic problem-solving and outreach. Students collaborate with classes across campus, town, or the world to develop solutions, share international cultures, and understand local, state, national, and world issues.

I got my start on social studies projects with an ePals project. My class paired up with a class in Germany to learn about the culture and geography of Germany and Europe. The structure of the ePals project helped me to organize my lessons and helped my students to present what they learned to other second grade classes.

I hope you find these project ideas helpful for your next (or first) project!

Social Studies for Grades K-5

  • Community Impact Projects | PBLU.org
    PBLU offers a couple of very detailed projects for how children can improve their communities and measure the impact of their efforts. Look at "Flat Stanley Community Heroes" and "Make a Difference".
  • International Projects or Partners Place | GlobalSchoolNet
    About 19 open projects for students in grades K-12. Many of them involve sharing arts, history, and culture with classes in other countries. The project list is constantly changing. Search by grade level, curriculum, and type of collaboration.
  • Social Studies projects | Intel Education
    21 projects for students in grades 2-12. As with Teach21 PBL, project focus is on local government, history, and geography at lower grades, shifting to world history and geopolitical events at the higher grades.
  • Projects Space | iEARN
    Projects for K-12 include 4 projects in geography, 21 projects in international studies/global issues, and 10 projects in history. Topics include local history, community action, and developing solutions that address world hunger.
  • Google Historical Voyages and Events | Carol LaRow
    For students in grades 3-5. Kids get the opportunity to showcase their communities to the public in a historical context. They learn the history of where they live and historic figures who impacted their community, then present what they've learned.
  • Project Work | Duke School
    Two projects for students in grades 4-5. Fourth graders immerse themselves in research on North Carolina folk life, culminating in a display at a local folk festival. (Adaptable to folk life or cultural festivals in any state.)

Middle School Students Build Their Own Video Textbook

Middle school students in Ohio have created a history of the world online to share with students everywhere. Check out the The Students' History, a fantastic example of project-based learning.

Social Studies Project for Middle and High School

  • Schools That Work: Mixing Art + Politics
    For students in grades 11-12, this collaborative project between art and government classes invites students to select and research both sides of environment, social welfare, economics, and foreign policies
  • High Tech High - Project Based Learning, the Vietnam Experience
    For 11th grade students who pick a historic period (Vietnam in this example), research it through a variety of media, then write and produce a play using historically accurate characters and settings and realistic dialogue.
  • The Hunger Games Project
    For world history students in grades 9-10, this three-week project helps students learn about the global economic crisis of the pre-World War II era that led to the rise of totalitarianism and the resultant moral dilemmas.
  • Leadership for Grades 6-12
    Students in grades 6-12 pick an issue and use primary sources to study from the perspective of the past, present, and future. They create a documentary video of their findings and organize a public event to air their documentaries.
  • Project Citizen
    Middle and high school students in grades 5-12 learn how to monitor and influence public policy through their state and congressional representatives, by developing ideas to solve problems that they present in a portfolio.

Great Ideas for Elementary School Social Studies Projects

What school project do you remember best?

Heidi Reina (author) from USA on September 13, 2020:

I'm glad you find them helpful.

Kavya Jain on September 12, 2020:

It is always great to engage students in Projects for teaching Social Science. Some of the ideas are very interesting. I am going to use them in my classes.

Brian Rock from New Jersey on December 14, 2017:

I love Project Citizen. It's a great way to get your kids to work together and try to improve the society in which they live. It's also interesting to see what issues they decide are important enough for them to research and propose solutions for.