All resources in Iowa Social Studies

Fairy Tales Around the World

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As some of the foundational texts for beginning readers, fairy tales are a staple of many classrooms. This lesson allows students to engage with fairy tales from different regions around the world and compare important cultural elements of these stories.

Material Type: Lesson Plan

CultureTalk - Arab World

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CultureTalk - Arab World features a very extensive selection of filmed interviews with people from different countries in the Arabic speaking world. While some interviews are in English, the vast majority are in Arabic. Translations and usually transcripts are provided for all non-English video clips. Topics include family, food, education, religious and cultural customs, work, art, sport, travel, etc. The regions covered are the Levant, North Africa, Egypt, and Mauritania, with an Iraqi section on the way.

Material Type: Teaching/Learning Strategy

Explore Iowa History

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Discover the people, places, events, and ideas of Iowa history. Explore hundreds of articles, images, videos and websites. Create your own story of Iowa as you go to unexpected places and search the past and present. Travel down side trails and uncover artifacts as you explore your Iowa pathway.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Diagram/Illustration, Interactive, Lesson, Primary Source, Reading

Author: IPTV

Magic of Trade

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In this interactive, experience-based entrepreneurship exercise students learn basic economic principles related to trade. The purpose of this activity, developed by Allen Distinguished Educator Jodie Woodruff, is to highlight the assumed self-interest in trade, and potential benefits of mutual gain.

Material Type: Activity/Lab

100 People: A World Portrait

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This website gives you the opportunity see the world through different people all over the world on a variety of topics. Watch videos, see lesson plans about global issues and looking at it from a lense of focus on 100 people.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Diagram/Illustration, Interactive, Lesson, Reading, Teaching/Learning Strategy

Issues of International Trade

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Trade issues occasionally dominate and are a continuing theme of the international scene: the global market, sweatshops, child labor, trade deficits, the euro, sanctions, tariffs, embargoes, and the EU, NAFTA, WTO, the seemingly endless alphabet of interest groups, treaties, organizations, and trade agreements. As a classroom topic, international trade has the great advantage of providing ready-made material for teachers wanting to engage student interest in current events. On the other hand, the complexity of the issues surrounding trade is daunting. While economic reasoning doesn't guarantee resolution of the issues, it is a powerful tool of critical thinking that brings clarity to the discussion of current events. The ability to determine comparative advantage through opportunity cost, the ability to identify incentives and predict resulting behavior, and the ability to use supply and demand analysis of particular labor and resource markets, help students to set aside the emotion of international trade issues and cut through the rhetoric of media reports.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Assessment, Lesson Plan

Global Trade Effects Down Home Trade.

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This lesson will have students analyze connections among historical events and developments in the contemporary global issue of trade, specifically, trade between the United States and China.   Students will answer the compelling question; Do tariffs improve the lives of workers in a country and in an industry?Students will research the history of trade, specifically, the silk road.  How did this trade route affect the lives of ordinary people? How does the relationship over time between the United States and China affect trade? Students will create a similar learning experience building a lesson that connects the historical events and developments to a contemporary issue around globalization. Copy of the Lesson in a Google Doc.  Licensed with a Creative Commons Attribution License. 

Material Type: Lesson Plan

Author: Maryann Farrell

Border Walls

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This inquiry examines the 20th century history of migration from Mexico to the United States and recent efforts to limit the movement of people across the southern U.S. border. The inquiry takes its inspiration from a 2018 podcast episode by Malcom Gladwell titled, “General Chapman’s Last Stand.” The podcast is part of Gladwell’s Revisionist History series ( In the podcast, Gladwell tells the story of General Leonard F. Chapman Jr., Commandant of the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, who went on to serve as the Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) from 1972 to 1975. Chapman is credited with reforming the INS into a more efficient and effective agency, but Gladwell argues that Chapman’s efforts also led to an unintentional increase in unauthorized immigrants. In 1970, 760,000 Mexican immigrants, or 1.4% of Mexico’s population, lived in the U.S. By 2008, there were 12.7 million Mexican immigrants in the U.S. which amounted to 11% of all people born in Mexico; an increase of almost 800% in less than 30 years. The question of how and why this happened is the central focus of this inquiry.

Material Type: Lesson Plan, Primary Source

Iowa History: Iowa Unsung Prairie Transformation to Farms and One Room Schools 1870-1900 Part 2

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Learn more about how immigrants settled Iowa by developing farms and built schools on the tall grass prairie in Iowa. Through video, primary sources, activities and text learn more about: (Continued from part 1) C) Transformation of Prairie to Farms, Towns and Building One Room Schools D) Operation and Success of the Iowa Rural School System Over Time E) Challenges and the end of the Iowa Rural School System

Material Type: Lesson, Module, Primary Source, Unit of Study

Authors: Denise Krefting, Sandra Host

Iowa 101: The world's largest Iowa history course

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When somebody says “pioneers”, what is the first image that comes into your mind? A covered wagon? A log cabin? It might be coonskin caps for Baby Boomers who grew up singing about Davy Crockett “killin’ him a bar when he was only three.” Davy is lucky he lived when he did. What an uproar there would be today! What was a child that young doing with a gun? Why was a three year old alone in the woods? Whatever your first impressions of pioneers, Iowans are fortunate that our state’s frontier experience is well documented through diaries, letters, newspapers, and memoirs. We did have our covered wagons and log cabin days. During the 1840s and 1850s, settlers in Indiana and Illinois commented that the roads were lined solid with canvas-covered Conestoga wagons plodding toward the Iowa Territory. The pioneer experience, however, was different as the frontier moved out of ...

Material Type: Full Course, Reading

Author: Des Moines Register

Explore Iowa History and Culture! · Iowa Heritage Digital Collections

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Iowa Heritage Digital Collections is a resource for students, educators, historians, genealogists, and anyone else interested in the people, places and institutions of Iowa. The site provides free access to digital collections from a variety of Iowa cultural institutions. This website is a collection of Iowa History resources for educators, teachers, historians, and anyone interested in Iowa and its people, culture and places. It provides free access to digital collections from Iowa cultural institutions

Material Type: Diagram/Illustration, Primary Source, Reading

Author: Iowa Heritage Digital Collection

The Goldfinch

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What is a goldfinch, you ask? Of course it is a beautiful bird, but it is was also an Iowa history magazine for young people. Published quarterly by the State Historical Society of Iowa from 1975 to 2000, each issue had a theme (such as immigrants) and included articles, games, and fiction. The University of Iowa Libraries has digitized all of these back issues and visitors can scroll through all of them from this site. Visitors might do well to start by looking at the issues titled "Health in Iowa" and "Traveling Entertainment." Educators might consider these works as a model for teaching young people about history as each issues is well-curated and contains a mix of visual materials and thoughtful text.

Material Type: Reading