Getting creative with social studies

Shalini Sabikhi

A diary or journal is a record of personal and daily experiences. Recording your observations, thoughts and ideas is a great way of storing memories and a wonderful way of developing writing skills. Journaling also helps reduce stress and anxiety, is good for self knowledge, helps in problem-solving and learning new things. It also keeps the memory sharp.

There are many kinds of journals – art journal, bullet journal, gratitude journal, doodle journal, junk journal, travel journal, etc. To this list I decided why not add a social studies journal? As a teacher, I am constantly thinking of new ways of learning the subject, making it more interesting and attractive for my students. A social studies journal can be a combination of all of the above journals. It can be something in which a student maintains a record of anything related to social studies. You could ask your students to maintain a social studies journal according to the chapters in their textbook and use the journal as quick reference at the end of the year. Or in keeping with the spirit of journaling, it could be based on their personal experiences, in which case the journal will become a means of generating interest in the subject among the students.

If students have to maintain a journal then they will learn to observe their surroundings minutely, think, make judgments, question, retain information and connect their experiences with what they have learnt in the classroom. For example, when on vacation or visiting a new place, students will actually observe what type of soil is present there, what vegetation is growing and not just make a note of the monuments of a place. They will observe and question why a certain type of soil is found there or why particular type of trees grow there. Such a journal will also help the teacher learn more about her students and understand them better.

Getting started
• Buy a good diary or journal.

• Decorate the cover with doodles and write:

• On page 1 write beautifully

Get creative with it. Use water colours, pencil colours or crayons to colour the background. Paste your own picture (mention the date when the picture was clicked).

• Write titles on each page within creative shapes. Colour them beautifully.

• Page 2: Write ‘Quotes that inspire me’ (related to history, geography, civics or economics).
For example:
• Stopping pollution is the best solution.
• In a gentle way, you can shake the world – Mahatma Gandhi
– Paste a torn page from an old novel or newspaper and write the quote on it with a black marker.
– Make marbled paper and write the quote on it. Tutorials on making marbled papers are available on YouTube.
– Try and find individual words of your chosen quote in newspapers or magazines. Cut them out and paste them in the journal to make your quote. The edges can be roughly torn.

• Page 3: Books I’ve read related to history, geography, civics or economics (apart from academic books)
• Page 4: Lessons I learnt from the books I read
• Page 5: Movies I watched on history, geography, civics or economics (Dunkirk, Panipat, Jhansi ki Rani, etc.)
• Page 6: Netflix: The list of shows I’ve watched related to social studies
• Page 7: This is what I watched on the History Channel
• Page 8: This is what I watched on NatGeo
• Page 9: This is what I watched on TravelXP

All that you name in the following should be related to history, geography, economics or civics:
• Page 10: Serials I have watched on various channels (like Bharat Ek Khoj)
• Page 11: Wishlist of books to read (like Steps to Water on stepwells in India by Morna Livingston, A Train to Pakistan based on the partition by Khushwant Singh)
• Page 12: Wishlist of movies to watch
• Page 13: Wishlist of places to visit
• Pages 14-20: Places I have visited. Mention the following:
– Name of the place
– Dates of visit
– Food I ate
– Colour of soil (Put one tbsp of soil in a transparent sachet and paste it.)
– Monuments I saw (Draw or paste pictures)
– Trees that grow there
– Animals found
– People I met
– Clothes that people commonly wear
– Languages they speak
– Paste a picture postcard of that place
– Bring one or two leaves plucked from any plant or tree. Dry-press them in a book and paste.

• Carry your journal and pencil colours with you whenever you travel. Make live sketches or paintings when you visit different places. Don’t forget to mention the date on which you made the painting or sketch. Draw an emoji next to your painting to show how you were feeling then.
• Pages 21-30: Important events: Paste newspaper cuttings of important events that are happening in India and other parts of the world.
• Pages 31-40: Important news: Paste newspaper cuttings of important news about India and the world.
• Pages 41-50: Make mind maps for:
– Planning your trip: It can include the date of travel, mode of transport, hotel booked, places to visit, things to carry, etc.
– Event that happened: It should answer the questions – when, where, how, why, who and what.
– To learn to make mind maps read books and watch videos by Tony Buzan.
• Pages 51-60: Write poetry: Compose poems on historical events, people who created history, monuments, places you visited. Draw or paste pictures related to them.
• Pages 61-70: Write and paste pictures about people who inspire you and why.
• Pages 71-80: Write about what you can do for your neighbours and the society.
• Pages 81-100: Whenever you are free, draw and colour using any art form: Mandala, Zentangle, Doodle, Warli, Madhubani, Gond Art, etc. Find out about the history of these art forms and write about them.
– Pages 101-110: Write on topics beginning with – What If…
– What if Vasco da Gama had never reached India…
– What if the wheel was not invented…
– What if there were no human beings on earth…
– What if the earth did not rotate…
• Pages 130-140: Paste pictures of the current heads of the Government of India. (President, prime minister, chief minister of your state, municipal commissioner and mayor of your city.) Write their names and position below their picture. Add more pictures and names whenever new people are appointed/elected to important posts along with the dates.
• Pages 140 to 150: Write a letter in your journal addressed to the prime minister about what you can do for your country and city.

The author is an educator at Zydus School for Excellence, Vejalpur, Ahmedabad. She teaches social studies. She enjoys making craft, travelling, learning and sharing her learnings with others. She can be reached at

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