Social studies curriculum

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June 1999

Revised 2002
Revised 2005

Written by:
Michele Vaughan, Chairman

Cheryl McCain

Vita Paonessa

Modified 2005
Michele Vaughn

Elizabeth Lasker

Newington Public Schools

131 Cedar Street

Newington, CT 06111


In writing this curriculum the committee sought foremost to produce a document which would be useful to teachers. The aim was to provide material which would be consulted by teachers on a regular basis in planning for classes.

A goal of the curriculum committee in its task of preparing the new Fifth Grade Social Studies Curriculum was to produce a tool which would clarify the main concepts to be taught, student expectations to be achieved and the resources to be used in this endeavor.
Other objectives were to:

  • Encourage teachers to use a variety of textual material

  • Incorporate a variety of assessments

  • Coordinate the teaching of world geography and cultures with the area of language arts

  • Use CRISS strategies

  • Include a variety of instructional techniques

  • Actively involve students in their learning

  • Have teachers use units of study rather than going through a primary text from start to finish

As much as possible the teaching of social studies in grade 5 should involve 50% learning content and 50% learning study skills. Because of this, numerous supplementary materials, multi-sensory assessments, activities and projects have been included.

Social Studies should not consist only of the study of history. Civics, economics, and geography should also be included. For this reason each expectation is labeled with one or more code letters (H, C, E, or G) to denote the area(s) included in that expectation.
For each unit of study, the teacher is given the major concepts, student expectations, required (asterisked) and a notes section including resources, vocabulary and important people and places. Many suggested optional activities were also provided. These are not mandatory but would be beneficial in extending/enhancing student learning. The optional material provides teachers additional activity choices that can be used for differentiating instruction and may serve as springboards for the teacher’s own creativity.

Grade 5 Social Studies Curriculum
General Information and Directions:

  1. Students can demonstrate the development of their knowledge and skills through a number of activities, including KWL charts, use of note taking, two column notes and power outlining for research report writing and comprehension of nonfiction text, oral presentations, art activities, journal writing, dramatizations, expository essays, map creations, exhibitions, portfolios, debates, and simulations. Alternative forms of assessment such as these are encouraged.

  1. As much as possible, all units of study should include history, geography, civics, and economics. These are marked H, G, C, E after each expectation.

  1. As much as possible the teaching of social studies in grade 5 should involve 50% learning content and 50% learning study skills.

  1. At least one unit of study will involve reading the text and taking notes.

  1. Units of study should involve an interdisciplinary approach.

6. Units of study may incorporate the use of novels and trade books (whole class or

literature discussion groups) as well as teacher read alouds.

  1. At least one unit of study will involve a research project that will involve an interdisciplinary approach.

  1. Use of the Internet to obtain information is encouraged. Several sites are listed for reference.

  1. Appropriate technology should be used to enhance the study of cultures and geography (CD ROMS for research, short videos on culture and technology projects).

  1. Text material for social studies can be read as part of guided reading.

Major Concepts (Yearlong)
The following concepts will be addressed throughout the year in each of the social studies units:

  1. Map Skills

  • Geography terms and application

  • Reading and interpreting information presented in various resources (reference books, atlases, almanacs) in a variety of formats (maps, graphs, maps, tables, charts)

  • Understanding and interpretating different types of maps (vegetation, population density, animal populations, climate and precipitation)

  1. Cultural aspects of people around the world [the concept of culture and how different perspectives emerge from different cultures]

3. Themes of Geography: The five themes of geography include:

  • Location – where a country/city/geographical feature is in the world.

  • Place – the physical characteristics and human characteristics of a location.

  • Human Environment Interaction – the study of how people affect the environment and how the environment affects people; identification of ways in which the environment and human beings interact, affecting the life style choices people must make in an everchanging ecosystem.

  • Regions – examination of the similarities and differences of places on a broad – perspective.

  • Movement – a study of how tangible things as well as ideas and information travel from one place to another.



Students will:

  1. Be able to read and interpret different types of maps.

  2. Read and interpret different types of graphs, tables and charts.

  3. Be able to locate and label the continents and oceans.

  4. Learn basic geography terms.

  5. Be able to identify specific physical features of the world.

  6. Be able to label the major physical features and geographical regions of Africa and Kenya.

  7. Describe how the geography of Kenya affects people and their way of life.

  8. Learn about the country of Kenya including the contrast between modern cities and tribal villages.

  9. Learn about various aspects of Kenyan/African culture.

Students will:

  1. Identify Japan on a world map and know its location in relation to other Asian countries, continents, and bodies of water.

  2. Understand that Japan is a country made up of four major islands.

  3. Understand the effects of earthquakes, volcanoes, typhoons and other environmental influences.

  4. Identify the major cities and population distribution of Japan.

  5. Understand that Japan is an economic superpower in the world due to manufacturing and technological abilities.

  6. Investigate one area of Japanese art.

  7. Learn about daily life and customs of Japan.

  8. Compare Japanese schools with American schools.

Students will:

  1. Learn about the interaction between the geography/environment of the Amazon Rain Forest

and the people living there; how geography affects people and their way of life, and how people affect the rainforest.

  1. Learn about the different life styles of the people of Brazil, contrasting the city dwellers

and the rain forest dwellers.

  1. Learn about the animals and plants that live in the Amazon Rain Forest.

  2. Identify the main threats that endanger wildlife species in the Amazon Rain Forest.

  3. Understand the benefits of conserving the Amazon Rain Forest.


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