NCSS Online Teachers' Library

NCSS has selected a collection of classroom activities, teaching ideas, and articles from Social Education, Middle Level Learning, and Social Studies and the Young Learner. Browse the collection, or search by historical period and grade level using the search function below.
(Collections on other disciplines are under development.)

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What Caused the Great Depression?


By Jean Caldwell and Timothy G. O’Driscoll
A review of the three major schools of thought on the causes of the Great Depression provides deeper understanding of both the history of the Depression and basic principles of economics.

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Lesson Whatdunnit? The Great Depression Mystery


_By National Council on Economic Education
This simulation activity offers clues to why the American economy went from unprecedented prosperity in the 1920s to unprecedented misery in the 1930s.

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Money Panics and the Establishment of the Federal Reserve System (Lesson Plan)


—National Council on Economic Education, New York
An unregulated banking system in the nineteenth century contributed to a string of severe money panics. A short play in this lesson plan helps students understand why this happened and how today’s Federal Reserve System protects against panics.

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The Stock Market Crashes of 1929 and 1987: Linking History and Personal Finance Education


Jane S. Lopus
By tapping into students’ curiosity about the stock market, teachers can motivate them to learn many important personal finance concepts.

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The 1930 Census (Teaching with Documents)


--Lee Ann Potter
What did it take to be a census enumerator for the 1930 census? What does a sample census schedule look like? The article examines the 1930 census and includes teaching activities that help students understand the importance of the census to the history of our nation.

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The War of the Words: Letters to the FCC Regarding Orson Welles’s 1938 Broadcast (Teaching with Documents)


--Lee Ann Potter
Orson Welles’s famous 1938 broadcast of “The War of the Worlds” incited a mixed response—ranging from terror to delight—from listeners across the country.

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Hard Times and New Deals: Teaching Fifth Graders about the Great Depression (Elementary Education)


--Gary Fertig
The study unit on the Great Depression described here makes use of recent findings about how children develop historical understandings. The unit includes a simulation on the stock market crash of 1929, a letter-writing activity based on study of letters real children wrote to Mrs. Roosevelt, and the creation and performance of historical scenarios involving Depression-era characters.

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Eugenics Past and Present: Remembering [em]Buck v. Bell[/em]


--Michael J. Berson and Bárbara C. Cruz
The seventy-fifth anniversary of the Buck v. Bell case is an appropriate time for students to explore the ethical questions underlying eugenics principles, policies, and practices—from Nazi Germany’s sterilization laws to the Human Genome Project.

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The Great Depression: Character, Citizenship, and History


--Gail McEachron
Children's literature helps elementary students "understand the human side of struggling during difficult economic times."

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Displaced Children in U.S. History: Stories of Courage and Survival


--Brenda Betts
A brief survey of four major U.S. migrations of homeless children: the Cherokee Trail of Tears; the Underground Railroad; the Orphan Train Riders; and the One Thousand Children program (during the Holocaust). Includes brief accounts from four children.

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