Teacher truth: I have all the heart eyes for the beautiful anchor charts I’ve seen on social media, but in my own classroom, they were never as pretty. But guess what? It doesn’t matter! It doesn’t need to be fancy so long as it works for you and for your students. A functional and easy-to-make anchor chart that the kids will actually use is my goal! With that in mind, I wanted to share some of my all-time favorite, easy, REUSABLE social studies anchor charts that work for any history lesson in the elementary grades!
In no particular order, here they are!
First up is an anchor chart to record key unit concepts and vocabulary. This one isn’t dropping any jaws. But it’s so easy to make and really helpful for students, and it works for pretty much any unit. I post this on my whiteboard when a new unit starts. As I teach the unit, we add the names of significant people and places we’re learning about along with important vocabulary words and phrases – all based on student suggestions. And since the chart stays right up front, it’s easy to refer back to throughout the unit. When we finish, I just add it to my social studies content wall (where I also put my vocabulary word wall cards).
P.S. This anchor chart is perfect for quick question-and-answer review games. My students have always loved quizzing each other and using a flashlight or a fly swatter to mark the answers!
The next one is a cause-and-effect chart. You can do this lots of ways. You can just have a simple cause-and-effect chart, you can do multiple causes and effects, or you can use a Somebody-Wanted-But-So-Then type of organizer. Anything that helps students examine the causes and effects of events and choices throughout history will work.
Another must-have anchor chart for social studies is a timeline! Instead of making a new one for each unit with the number of boxes I think we’ll need, I like to just draw a line across the top and then add the vertical lines as we need them. So easy!
This stick figure anchor chart is a super simple one to use when you’re studying important historical figures. Students can add basic biographical information, character traits, notes about contributions and significance, and more! Open slate!
This next one is a favorite of mine for recording questions and answers. (I’ve often used a smaller version in our social studies interactive notebooks, too.) All you do is draw a giant question mark! That’s it! I like to segment the question mark into Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? questions, but that’s totally optional. You can use this anchor chart as a parking lot for student questions as well.
Finally, one of my favorite social studies critical thinking skills to have students practice is comparing perspectives. I like to start with a big pair of glasses and then draw a line through the middle of them. In each half, we add pictures and/or words to show how two different people or groups of people see the same event from their point of view. Such a great visual way to drive this concept home.
So that’s it! Not only are these anchor charts simple to make, but they’re great to make with your students. I love that they focus on what’s essential about the content without a lot of distracting decorations or information. Hope you give some of these anchor charts a try in your classroom the next time you teach social studies!