Fifth Graders can do simple research projects and papers on a variety of topics. Offer them the opportunity to find out more about a famous person, a location such as an American state or an ancient city, an invention or landmark or a current event. Students can learn to gather research from books, magazines, newspapers and the internet, as well as document their findings with citations and footnotes.
Students choose a famous person of past or present. Have them consider the realms of politics, sports, film/TV, business, medicine, humanitarian interests, the military or other fields where individuals have made a significant contribution. Students can choose a modern day personality they greatly admire or someone from the past they would like to know more about. Have them research the details of this person’s life and require that they utilize more than one source for their research. You might decide to have them focus only on a particular time in the person’s life, narrowing the time period that students need to research.
Students can research statistics and points of interest about cities, states or countries. For example, students could each choose a separate state and research a list of questions relating to topics such as the history of the state, its population, its industries, natural resources and geographic description. Students could also research ancient cities and civilizations using a similar format. Consider assigning the creation of a map of the selected research location in addition to the written researched material .
The History of…
How did the celebration of Mardi Gras get started in New Orleans? Where did the Grand Canyon come from? What was the very first computer? Who invented baseball? The Yo-Yo? Chewing Gum? Students can research the origins of an event, a landmark, an invention, sport , toy or food. Have them choose a topic that really intrigues them, potentially answering a question that they have wondered about. In this way, students are making the real life connection between having an interest in or question about something and researching that topic in order to find out the answer.
Students can learn to use the information available in magazines, newspapers and online when they choose a current event as a topic for research. Have a "Current Events Day" in your class and introduce some topics of local, national and international significance to your students. Share with them a variety of sources for each topic. As of this writing, students might consider researching events such the uprising in Egypt, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan or the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Students could also research the upcoming presidential election of 2012 and the effects of the ongoing economic recession on American citizens.
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