One of my favorite parts of history is studying the lives and careers of difference-makers. So it’s probably no surprise that from Martin Luther King, Jr. to Malala Yousafzai, I use my fair share of biographies in my social studies classroom. There’s something about reading about the lives of famous people in history that is inspiring and informative, all at the same time.
So, why do I love them so much? Why use biographies in your social studies classroom? And how should you do it? Here are some great ideas and tips!
- They’re about real people. It’s true that some of the best stories are true. Biographies offer real-life examples that can inspire, teach, or even warn young learners. And biographies of important people throughout history can show the power of one person making a difference.
- Learn from the mistakes (and successes) of others. Because biographies are true stories, they offer a unique perspective of history.
- Give students a personal perspective. Biographies offer a view of history through the lens of one person’s life or work. Pair them with related primary sources to pack a real punch!
- Bring the past to life. It’s tempting for young people to think of history as a list of dates and events that don’t really seem real. Biographies bring history to life, adding a personal element to dates with moments that happened in real life.
- Construct a timeline. Use a biography to create a timeline detailing an event or time in history through the lens of one person’s life and work.
- Make history more personal. Give students a closer understanding of social studies by making it relatable. Biographies show the human nature of history, which can be lost on kids and adult alike without personal stories!
- Have students create their own biography (or autobiography). Give students a taste of authorship by having them write about an inspiring person in history, or constructing their own autobiography!
I love biographies so much, I’ve created biography packs for you to use in your social studies classroom. These are perfect to accompany thematic units, group work, for independent study (or homework!), or as stand-alone components. The best part? They’re ready to go with no prep required! Just print and go!
Here’s what’s included in each pack:
- Colored & Black and White Posters
- KWL Chart
- Reading Sheet
- Graphic Organizer
- Writing Worksheets
- Word Search
- Trading Cards
- Colored & Black & White Bookmarks
- Timeline Activity
- Assessment & Answer Key
Not quite ready to jump in? No worries! Try it out for FREE with this Sample Biography Pack- simply print and try it out!
So what do you think? Do biographies have a place in your social studies classroom?
I’d love to hear how you use them, or if you try any of my biography packs. Feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to chat!