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Scratch Across Every Subject: Social Studies

Scratch isn’t just for STEM! Here are some ideas for using Scratch in your social studies classroom.

By Mary Adelaide, ScratchEd Intern 

Scratch allows students to connect with their social studies curriculum in a visually engaging, interactive way. They can replay history’s major events with games and animations, show their knowledge of geography with responsive maps, and draw on what they learn in class to give historical figures new life on the computer screen. In the process, they can hone their storytelling abilities as they consider how to represent historical events and current issues.

 

Students can jump-start their projects by drawing on pre-existing media, such as maps, landscape photos, and character artwork (such as this sprite pack resource of Henry VIII and his wives). In learning about the geography of a country or region, students can begin with a basic map outline and add their own relevant illustrations, pop-up facts, and games or quizzes about the different areas covered by the map.

 

Scratch is also a great platform for an animation, map, or game depicting a famous historical journey or expedition. To add physical tinkering to the mix, consider having students create a landscape of another time or place, which can be linked to Scratch through MakeyMakey and used as the basis for an exploratory game. This resource from Mike Murphy has plenty of ideas and guidelines.


Students can construct and explore digital and physical landscapes. 
 

Encourage students to deepen their understanding of historical figures by creating representations of them on Scratch. One possibility is a digital collage tying together elements from the person’s life and accomplishments – like this collage about Anne Frank  and this studio of projects on Civil Rights leaders. Famous friends or foes from the past, represented by sprites, can re-enact key events. Students can also turn their chosen historical figures into chat bots that pose and answer questions based on the era they lived in and the feats that made them famous, like this.


Screenshot from a Scratch presentation on Malcom X. 

 

Past innovations can be re-imagined using Scratch, and they can really come to life with the addition of Picoboard or MakeyMakey. One possibility is to create an old-fashioned radio using Scratch and Picoboard, like this, another resource shared by Mike Murphy


Screenshot from the demo and construction notes video for making your own Radio with Scratch and Picoboard

 

To spark conversation and reflection on social issues, past or present, students can create animations or games addressing them. This resource includes some creative examples. And this crowd-sourced list shows the vast ways that Scratch can support Civic Engagement. 

Browse sample social studies projects – including a visualization of vocab words, an exploration of the effects of media, and a glimpse into ancient Rome – in this collection of scratch projects across the curriculum.


What else? We'd love to hear from you. How have you and your students explored Social Studies with Scratch? Share in the commments below.  
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