Engage your students while discussing the turbulent 1950s and the history of this decade. Create a classroom that portrays figures and icons from 1950s American history, pop culture and literature. Whether you teach music or history, there are themes that can assist you in developing entertaining and educational surroundings for your students.
Elvis Presley, born in Tennessee in 1935, is one of the most iconic musicians in America, and he came to prominence during the 1950s. Place photos or a cardboard stand-up of Elvis in your classroom. Another idea is to hang pictures representing various Elvis songs, such as a picture of a "Hound Dog." You can then involve the students, having them guess which Elvis song each photo represents. You can follow this same pattern for other famous musicians of the 1950s. Examples include Chuck Berry, Frankie Avalon, Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly. Hanging up plastic music notes and examples of instruments used during the time can help set the mood.
1950s Dance Party
The 1950s were a time of rock-and-roll and doing the Twist. Girls would dance the night away in poodle skirts and saddle shoes, while the boys would proudly flash their leather jackets and slicked-back hair. Think about the movie "Grease" while creating your themed classroom. Posters of jukeboxes, records and teens dancing various 1950s dances like the Twist and the Stroll can hang in the room. You can even have your own 1950s dance party with the students, during which they are encouraged to wear costumes portraying the decade. You can serve food that was popular in the 1950s like hamburgers and milkshakes.
Full of rich and important stories, the 1950s were a decade in American history not to be forgotten. Decorate your room with pictures of historical figures and make sure to discuss these figures in your lectures, tying together the importance of their actions. Brown vs. Board of Education, the 1954 Supreme Court decision ending school segregation, was one of the most significant legal battles of the last 100 years. Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in the front of a bus in 1955; this provides another good example of Fifties history. Use imagery and storytelling to convey the importance of the 1950s with your students. Use lots of black-and-white photos and decorations to emphasise the cultural colour battle that was occurring in this decade.
1950s Pop Culture
Create a classroom around the theme of 1950s pop culture. Include different activity centres where students can be hands-on, to experience the learning first hand. One station can include hula hoops. Not only can students learn about one of the largest toy trends of the 1950s, they will also have a chance to engage in physical activity. A hula hoop contest will put students in the 1950s mind-frame. Other stations in the classroom can include a jukebox with music from the era, a TV with movie and television show clips appropriate for the age level being taught and a station with clothes that enable the students to play dress-up and learn about the fashions of the 1950s.
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