5 Virginia Studies Reconstruction Activities

Welcome back! I’m Meghan from Vestal’s 21st Century Classroom and I refuse to accept that Virginia Studies has to be boring. I love finding ways to make Virginia Studies engaging and hands-on so that we can inspire students to enjoy history. So far, in this series, I have shared ways to teach your Virginia Studies units from Virginia Geography to Virginia in the Civil War (see the list at the end of this post to find other Virginia Studies posts in this series). Now, let’s dive into activities that will make your Virginia Studies Reconstruction unit both fun and memorable.

Play a Sharecropping Simulation Game

Virginia Studies games are a great way to get your students engaged and to help them retain the information they are learning. To help my students understand the effects of the sharecropping system, I have created a dice game. As part of the game, students work as a sharecropper for seven years. They roll the dice to determine how many pounds of tobacco they are able to harvest each year. The goal is for students to generate a profit by the end of the seven years. Not only does this simulation game help students understand how difficult it was to make money as a sharecropper, but it is also a great way to incorporate math skills into your Virginia Studies lessons.

Examine Primary Sources

It is not difficult to find primary sources that allow students to see and hear the effects of Jim Crow laws. I incorporate lots of primary sources throughout my Virginia Studies Reconstruction unit that help to illustrate segregation. Often, I will post a picture without actually telling the students what is happening. I give the students time to infer what they think is happening in the picture and write what emotions they feel when they first see the picture. Then, we discuss what is actually happening and the effects of segregation on life in Virginia. Primary sources are one of the best ways to bring events from Virginia Studies to life.

Create Virginia Studies Foldables

Foldables are a great way to list or review information in social studies. I use foldables throughout my Virginia Studies Reconstruction unit when there are several pieces of information students are expected to remember about a specific topic. For example, students create a foldable to list the problems Virginians experienced as a result of Reconstruction. They also create a foldable to explain the reasons Virginia’s cities grew following the Civil War.

Review Virginia Geography

It is important to take time to review Virginia geography during each Virginia Studies unit because understanding Virginia’s geography will also give students a better understanding of Virginia’s history. For example, students can better visualize events when they know exactly where the events took place on a map of Virginia and what the geography of that region looks like. Students can also better understand why Virginians made certain decisions or what challenges they might have experienced when they have a knowledge of geography.

Part of the Virginia Studies Reconstruction SOL is having students explain why certain cities grew following the Civil War. I have students create maps that show where certain cities are located. Students then identify which region those cities were a part of and analyze the geographical features of each region to explain how those features could cause a city to grow. This is another great way to incorporate critical thinking skills in your Virginia Studies Reconstruction unit.

Play Virginia Studies Review Games

Every Virginia Studies unit should end with fun review activities that help students prepare for their unit test and their Virginia Studies SOL test. There are two Virginia Studies review activities I use at the end of each of my units: task cards and an escape room challenge. These activities get students up and moving, require them to use critical thinking skills, and introduce them to questions they will see on the SOL test.

I have shared lots of ways I use task cards throughout this series on teaching Virginia Studies (the complete list of Virginia Studies blog posts is listed at the end of this post). Recently, I created a game show with my Virginia Studies Reconstruction Task Cards. I divided my students into five teams. Then, I projected each task card onto the SMART Board, allowing students time to discuss and record their answers as a team. After each task card, we reviewed the answer as a class and points were awarded to teams that answered correctly. This was a fun way to use task cards because it encouraged the students to work together and share their ideas.
It is no secret that I LOVE using classroom escape rooms to teach Virginia Studies. I explain more about using classroom escape rooms to make history hands-on here. My Virginia Studies Reconstruction Escape Room includes six challenges that incorporate reading, math, and critical thinking skills. I keep using escape rooms to review Virginia Studies because I constantly hear students talk about how much they love these activities. Anytime a student is having fun and loving what they are doing, they are more likely to remember what they are learning.


If you are looking to incorporate more critical thinking skills into your social studies lessons and want to get your students excited about learning, use these activities in your Virginia Studies Reconstruction unit! The activities described in this post can be replicated in your classroom, but I know planning time is limited. If you’re short on time, I’ve got you covered! My Virginia Studies Reconstruction Unit and Virginia Studies Bundle each have all of the activities listed here and LOTS more. My Virginia Studies Reconstruction Task Cards and Virginia Studies Reconstruction Escape Room can also help cut down on the amount of time it takes to plan review activities.

As an educator, one of my biggest passions is finding ways to make history fun for teachers and students. Here on Virginia is for Teachers, I share many of my favorite tips and ideas for teaching Virginia Studies. Make sure to check my next month as I plan to share the best ways for teaching your Virginia in the Twentieth Century Unit.

Until then, check out these other posts in my Virginia Studies series.

No comments

Post a Comment