Social StudiesCurriculum Overview

Social studies is the integrated study of the social sciences to prepare young people to become responsible citizens.

The purpose of social studies is to develop social understanding and civic efficacy (the readiness and willingness to assume citizenship responsibilities and to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a democratic society.)

The social studies curriculum builds four capacities in young people: disciplinary knowledge, thinking skills, commitment to democratic values, and citizen participation.

Throughout the year, students study the following topics at various levels of difficulty.

Early America and Americans (Beginnings to 1650)

a.      Geography ofthe United States (maps and globes)                                          

b.      Firstencounters betweenAmericans andEuropeans:              

                        Christopher Columbus in 1492                                                        

c.  Early English settlements (13 Colonies)                                            

d,  Native Americans                                                                                  

     (for example, Pueblo, Apache, Cherokee, Iroquois Huron)  their food, homes,arts and oral tradition

e.      Pilgrims, MayflowerCompact, WilliamBradford, thefirstwinter, dailylifeontheMayflower                                                                                 

f.       The Puritans                                                                                 

g.     John Smith, Jamestown, Pocahontas, Plymouth, Squanto and Massasoit, Manhattan Island purchased by Dutch.

h.     Massachusettstown government, religion, and schooling in colonial times 

i.       Occupations (fishing and whaling, small farming, artisanship                   

George Washington – 1st President

The American Revolution: Creating a New Nation (1750-1815)    

      The Boston Tea Party                                                                             

       Paul Revere’s Ride                                                                          

       Thomas Jefferson and The Declaration of Independence                    

       U.S. Constitution  (brief overview)                                                     

Expansion, Reform, and Economic Growth (1800-1861)


1.     Eli Whitney’s Cotton Gin

2.     Pony Express

3.     Thomas Edison and the Invention of Electricity

4.     Benjamin Franklin

5.     Economy in the North:   capital, industry, labor, trade

6.     Economy in the South:  land, agriculture, slavery, trade

7.     Slave life:  families, religion, and resistance in the American South

8.      Abraham Lincoln:  beliefs, election war

9.     Civil War

American Literature of the period: 

WashingtonIrving, Longfellow, Edgar Allan Poe Folk Tales (Paul Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed)

People and events celebrated in major national holidays,

Independence day, Thanksgiving, Martin King Day, Memorial Day

Stars and stripes:  Betsy Ross and the American flag