Teachers' Section - Social Studies

Roots Reflections!

Content Area: Social Studies

Fitness Component: Wellness Knowledge

Alex Haley was raised in Henning, Tennessee and he wrote the book Roots:  The Saga of an American Family. The story follows a proud African who is kidnapped from his village in West Africa and was sold into slavery in on a plantation in the United States. Using excerpts from Roots, discuss the daily life of a slave and what their physical activity was like as compared to what your physical activity is like today.

Teach Me a Dance

Content Area: Social Studies (Tennessee)

Fitness Component: Physical Activity

Teachers will have students work in groups of four or five to choreograph a dance to the popular Tennessee song, “Rocky Top.”  Students may use props to enhance their choreography (e.g. coon-skin cap, posters, irises, ladybugs, etc.).  Students should use movements that are easy to follow and show the culture of the state. 

Tribe Challenge

Content Area: Social Studies (Indian Tribes)

Fitness Component: Physical Activity (space needed)

Teachers need five hula hoops, and five objects per tribe-representing each tribe. Four hoops are positioned in each corner of the room with one hoop in the center containing all objects. Students will be assigned to a tribe and must stand in a single-file line behind their tribe hoop.  On the teacher's signal, one person at a time from a team will run to the center hoop containing all of the objects.  Teams may take only one item for their tribe and bring it back to their hoop.  Tribes also have the option to take an item from an opposing tribe's hoop and return it to the center hoop, but you may only do one action...gather for your tribe, or steal from another tribe.  Game stops when one tribe collects all 5 of their items. 

Energy Balance – It’s No Secret

Content Area: Social Studies

Fitness Component: Wellness Knowledge

Tennessee had a “secret city” that is now known for energy research. The name of the city is Oak Ridge. Students will study the history of Oak Ridge and its contribution to the war effort during World War II. The American Museum of Science and Energy is located in Oak Ridge and offers lesson plans regarding energy for grades K-5 at These lesson plans include physical activity.

Energy balance is the balance of calories consumed from foods and beverages (energy in) with calories burned from physical activity (like walking, playing sports or playing at recess), activities of daily living (washing the car, eating, cleaning your room, raking leaves) and basic body processes like breathing and sleeping (energy out). When we maintain energy balance over time, it can contribute to our health in positive ways.

  • Have students list everything they ate at lunch and provide calorie totals for common lunch items. Then have them list what they did in gym class or recess and provide burned calorie numbers for those activities. Show them how to chart the caloric intake and expenditure and add or subtract for their caloric totals.

  • When discussing “My Plate”, discuss options in terms of the exercise trade-off needed to balance out that food group.

  • Ask students to keep an energy balance journal, writing down all of the foods they ate and activities they did that day or week. Then, spend a class helping them assign caloric values to those meals and activities to determine their energy balance. Caloric values can be found by using the food journal at

  • Grab a scale and some weights. Label weights with the calories of your students’ favorite food choices and the energy values of various calorie-burning activities and let students practicing balancing them against each other. Older students can help look up the calorie counts for their foods and activities.

The Trail of Tears

Content Area: Social Studies

Fitness Component: Physical Activity

Red Clay State Park is located in southeast Tennessee and was the location of the final council ground of the Eastern Cherokee Indian Nation before the forced removal of the Cherokee people in 1838. This is where The Trail of Tears began.  Between June and December 1838, more than 15,000 Cherokees were forced to depart their homes in the southern Appalachians and walk more than a thousand miles to the Indian Territory. Between 4,000 and 8,000 Cherokees died on "Nunahi-duna-dlo-hilu-i", The Trail Where They Cried.

Students can research more information about The Trail of Tears including the following:

  • geography of the route the Cherokees had to travel
  • the events leading up to the forced relocation of the 1830s
  • the conflicts among the Cherokees and their effect on the relocation
  • the  treaty agreements between the U.S. government and American Indian tribes in students' own region and the U.S. Supreme Court

Concluding the studies, the students walk one mile as a group and discuss what life might have been like for the Cherokee people as they were forced to walk The Trail of Tears in the winter.