Social Studies UDL Project

Melanie Mervin - ECED 608

What is Social Studies?

Social studies is the study of people; it is our history, our habits, where we live, what we do, what we believe in, how we make decisions, and how we understand others. Social studies attempts to make sense of human beings and the society we have created since the beginning of time.

My Social Studies Philosophy

I am very passionate about social studies and I hope I am able to share that passion with my students when I am a teacher.

To do this, I want to find ways to embed social studies into lessons as often as possible. One way I can do this is by using literature to teach social studies. Reading is so important in early elementary school, and reading comprehension lessons can serve a dual purpose by also teaching parts of history, economics, culture, or other aspects of social studies. Another way to indirectly increase social studies instruction is by singing social studies songs with my early elementary students everyday throughout the school year.

I also want to make social studies something fun that children will be interested in and find relatable. Social studies is how people learn about themselves and where they come from, so it must not be taught in a one-size-fits-all approach. Students should be empowered to learn about figures, events, and places that are relevant to their own lives. Social studies is also how people learn about others; it is a wonderful opportunity for students to put themselves into another's shoes and to develop socially and morally.

Application: Economics

Maryland State Curriculum

Social Studies, Grade 3
Standard 4.0 Economics

Topic A. Indicator 1. Explain that people must make choices because resources are limited relative to unlimited wants for goods and services.

a. Explain why people must make economic choices.
b. Identify and apply the steps in the decision-making process.
c. Identify the opportunity cost of a choice or decision.



The concept of choice in economics is important from both a social studies and social development perspective. Children from all economic backgrounds must understand that resources are not unlimited and that all of their desires may not always be granted. Teaching the concept of choice through economics helps students to understand this reality and also equips them with the tools to tackle decision-making in the real world.

Big Ideas and Essential Questions

How and why do people make decisions?

How does choice relate to economics?

Why can't people get everything they want and need?


Poster Contest

Children in the third grade class will be encouraged to create posters which creatively represent the concept of opportunity cost for the MCEE poster contest. By creating an original poster, students are given an alternate means of expressing what they know.

Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn (Literature in Social Studies)

This multicultural video book illustrates the concept of choice in economics for a third grade/early elementary audience. Students can read (listen to) the story to learn how Sam makes choices while spending his limited supply of money. Then, students can practice making choices while roleplaying Sam's story. Because this is a book on video, students who struggle with reading or with English language will not miss out on important ideas.

Econ & Me Opportunity Cost

A classic video for early elementary economics education, Econ & Me teaches his friends in this episode how to use a "decision tree" to make choices. Not only are students engaged by video clips, but, like Sam and the Lucky Money, struggling readers will not be left out. Making the decision tree is very fun and simple for young children, so students may enjoy using this practice in school and in their real lives.

Rally Table

This method could be used in a number of different ways for a third grade economics unit, however, I envision presenting an open-ended economic problem that small groups will need to "rally" to solve. For example, small groups will need to decide how to allocate a certain amount of money between different desirable goods and services. This is a practical, hands-on approach to cooperative learning that will get students excited.


Mad Money Game

This game is awesome! It applies what we will be learning about decision-making in economics to real life. Students have to chose a "goal" that they want to save up for. Then, throughout the game, they will face choices that involve paying for necessities or splurging on other desires. This is an excellent real-world application and may be used by all students.

Cyberchase - Money
This page is a collection of games and videos illustrating a variety of "personal finance" concepts for children. Because much of personal finance involves economic decision-making, this is yet another real-world application of content that all students may enjoy.

The Prisoners' Dilemma

The Prisoners' Dilemma is a college-level economics concept. This website adapts the concept for younger learners - I think this is so cool and exciting! This interactive online game illustrates this economic concept which shows that there are certain benefits and certain costs (consequences) that go along with every decision. Students must be proficient in reading to use this website.