Create Social Studies Projects that Engage Your Grades 4 to 6 Students!


At the end of a social studies units, teachers often find themselves struggling to design a “culminating task” that is engaging for students and provides teachers with an opportunity to assess overall curriculum expectations.

What makes a great culminating project or task?

A culminating task or project should:
  • address the overall curriculum expectations for the unit.
  • cause students to think deeply about the important issues or questions brought up during the unit.
  • be engaging and hold the interest of students over time.
  • be shared with students in advance, using physical models 
  • have clear timelines and success criteria.
Before even beginning a unit I already know what the final tasks or projects will be, and using the “backward design” model I plan the entire unit, making sure that every lesson will contribute in some way towards that task.  

I show students what that task will look like early in the unit, and have them work on it bit by bit from lesson to lesson.  I precreate physical models of the different project options, so that students can choose the option that works best for them.  

Types of Projects

Some of my favourite culminating projects or tasks are:
1.  Brochures
2.  Project Cubes
3.  Posters
4.  Debates
5.  Report Cards
6.  Event

The image to the right show a “project cube” that I created for my Grade 4/5 class.  We were exploring Strand B of the Ontario Social Studies Curriculum, which focused on:
Grade 4:  Physical and Political Regions of Canada               
Grade 5:  The Role of Government and Responsible Citizenship

As a final task I wanted the Grade 4s to show how industry and the environment affect each other, and to describe how actions taken by citizens and industries can protect the environment while still meeting human needs.

The Grade 5s would describe and assess any government action has been taken to address an environmental issue, to show different perspectives on that issue, and to describe how Indigenous Peoples have been affected by the issue.

Students could choose to show their learning through a:
* project cube
* poster
* brochure
* scrapbook
* report

I gave physical models of each option, using the issue of invasive species in the Great Lakes.  I also shared clear criteria for each type of project.  (***For your own copy of these project criteria, click here OR on the image to the left!***)

If you are an Ontario Grade 4/5 teach who would like to check out the full unit, click here.


Scrapbook Page

              Report Card on Government Action (Grade 5)

Note:  A Grade 5 teacher recently contacted me to let me know that after creating a report card about how governments addressed food insecurity, her class took the “action plan” to another level by creating a huge fundraiser for a local food bank.  Students had been exploring inequities in food availability, and worked through the steps in my Grade 5 government unit to take action themselves!  Amazing!!
Reminder:  Click here or on the clipboard below to download your FREE editable social studies project criteria!

What are YOUR favourite types of culminating tasks or projects?  Let me know below!


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