How to Teach Civics in a Fun and Engaging Way

One of the questions I always get from fellow civics teachers is how do I make civics fun and engaging?

Let’s face it, civics can be dry. Many of the topics are beyond our students or they are just not interested. I achieved making civics fun and engaging by doing the following steps:

Step 1: Survey students interest 

Every year, your students will have different interest. I have taught students who were doing the D-Low shuffle in class to playing Fortnite. Every year students interest change. By surveying your students every year, you get an inside look into what your students want into the classroom. 

Step 2. Create a list of activities students will like 

Now that you have your survey, compile a list of what your students will like. When I did this with my students, I found my students liked to use technology and art in the classroom. This helped in the next step when researching fun and engaging activities.

Step 3. Research!

Now is the time to look through you saved pins and Instagram post to see which activities will be best for your classroom. There are pins that I have on Pinterest that I have used only in certain years of teaching. By finding activities based off of your student’s interest you are differentiating instruction and making your classes more fun!

Step 4. Plan for the fun and engaging activities

This set is the difference between making civics successful. If you do not plan to incorporate the fun and engaging activities, your civics class will not become fun and engaging.

Ms. Social Studies teacher rule of thumb: I plan for a fun and engaging activity at least once a unit. 


Now that you know how to incorporate fun and engaging activities, let’s look at some examples.

Simulations

The first way to make your civics class more engaging is to encourage simulations. What is simulation? It is a way for students to experience a topic in civics. 

The best times to use simulations is when you are teaching 

– The Articles of Confederation 

– How a bill becomes a law

– Mock Trial

– Taxes in the Colonies ( King’s Skittles is a great activity)

Articles of Confederation Simulation

Use Movies

I love using movies in the civics classroom. I have to admit, sometimes students learn best from movies or videos. Over the years I have incorporated movies into my civics classroom with success.

Some movies that are perfect for civics are 

-Selma, Lord, Selma

-Mr. Smith Goes to Washington 

-America the Story of Us Episode 1

-Wizard of Oz 

-Monster’s Inc.

America the Story of US Episode 1: Rebel Differentiated Foldable
Bias, Symbolism and Propaganda Lesson, PowerPoint and Mosnter's Inc Activity

Incorporate STEM

This is a hard one! 

STEM is associated with science but can be used in civics. Think about areas in civics where students have to solve a problem or challenge them to create a structure!

French and Indian War: George Washington and Fort Necessity STEM

I have incorporated STEM with the federalist and anti-federalist and systems of government. My favorite STEM activity is when the students rebuild Fort Necessity. 

Read to make your civics class fun and engaging? Start today by downloading the free student survey!

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