(All Tips of the Week can also be found on the Social Studies Central site.)

One of the best things that we as social studies teachers can do for our students is to create connections between past and present. And we’ve all used newspapers and current events to make our content more relevant for kids.

The problem is that it is sometimes difficult to find stuff to support your lesson planning.

This week’s tip focuses on some great sites that you can use to gather resources, lesson plans and activities focused on news and current events.

Newsmap is a visual tool that gathers current event information using Google News articles. It’s a wonderful way for you and your students to see patterns of events as they happen. The site also allows you to view events as viewed in countries outside the United States.

Google Earth does more than just present geography data. It now is able to connect with online resources and present that data in a visual way. CBS News has created a file that can be easily downloaded and displayed in Google Earth. This provides an constantly updated visual of events as they happen around the world. (Clicking the link will open Google Earth and install the file in your Temporary Places folder. If you don’t have Google Earth, get it here.)

The same people who created the great PeaceMaker game have created a sweet site called Play the News that lets you and your kids play simulations based on news events. Sims are organized into different categories such as politics, technology and world events. Recent events have been Israel and Hamas: War or Peace? and How Long Can Huck Last? Very cool!

TeachableMoment aims to encourage critical thinking on issues of the day and foster a positive classroom environment. Student readings and classroom activities are available for elementary school, middle school, and high school levels. Topics include current domestic & international events, conflict resolution, and intercultural understanding.

I’m all about using visuals with kids. The Newseum has a section that showcases the actual front pages of over 600 newspapers from around the world. This is very cool! You can compare events from different perspectives such as Republican vs. Democratic papers or American versus English papers.

The New York Times Teacher Network provides tons of resources for both students and teachers. Kids can play current events quizzes, read news summaries or write to Times reporters. There are some cool things for teachers but my favorite is a Lesson of the Day feature that you can arrange to show up in your email inbox. Nice!

Most news outlets create separate sections just for kids. A couple of examples are CNN Student News and Time for Kids.
There are hundreds of places to find specific lesson plans but a great resource to start creating your own can be found at Education World.

And finally, a couple of places to find more stuff about news and current events. Headlinespot is nothing but news in all media types, you can search by region or topic and literally has thousands of links! Our very own Social Studies Central site has a News outlets page.

Have fun!