People, Places, Checkmates
Teaching Social Studies with Chess
by Alexey W. Root
March 2010, 146pp, 8 1/2x11
1 volume, Libraries Unlimited

Paperback: 978-1-59158-850-4
$25, £19, 21€, A36
eBook Available: 978-1-59158-852-8
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Chess has been played and influenced by Silk Road traders, medieval nobility, U.S. political leaders, and ordinary citizens of many nations. There is even a musical called Chess, illustrating the clash of freedom and state control during the Cold War. Tracing chess through history teaches students about other times, places, and cultures, helping them see patterns of continuity and change.

Fifteen chess-enhanced lesson plans address National Council for the Social Studies standards for grades 4–8 and help prepare students to succeed in University Interscholastic League (UIL) Chess Puzzle.

Implement the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) curriculum standards in your classroom with People, Places, Checkmates: Teaching Social Studies with Chess. In this unique volume, 15 lesson plans teach culture, history, geography, and citizenship through the history of chess and its relationship to art, civics, culture, economics, geography, government, and technology. This book will also help educators and librarians prepare students to succeed in University Interscholastic League (UIL) Chess Puzzle.

Each 40-minute lesson plan includes an NCSS theme, materials and sources, procedure, and evaluation. Each lesson is followed by an optional 10-25 minute chess exercise, composed of teacher background, procedure and materials, expected time, and evaluation. A separate chapter teaches the chess basics necessary for your students to actually play chess and successfully complete the optional exercises. Lesson plans complement upper elementary and middle school curricula in world history, U.S. history, geography, and social studies.


  • 25 reproducibles, such as letters home to parents and worksheets
  • 15 photographs of famous chess players and of students playing chess
  • 28 chess diagrams and 7 examples of student work
  • A chronology of chess from ancient times to the present
  • A glossary of 90 chess terms from past and present, such as chatrang and en passant
Alexey W. Root is a senior lecturer in education at The University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, TX, and a former U.S. Women's chess champion. Her previous books include the Libraries Unlimited titles Children and Chess: A Guide for Educators; Science, Math, Checkmate: 32 Chess Activities for Inquiry and Problem Solving; and Read, Write, Checkmate: Enrich Literacy with Chess Activities.


"The concept is clever. . . . An exercise based on Benjamin Franklin's 'morals of chess,' a list of golden rules to be observed while playing the game, is also fascinating, as are studies of famous chess players and foreign chess terms."—Arches, August 27, 2010
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