Elementary Social Studies

  • Philosophy

    Students learn to understand, participate in, and make informed decisions about their world through studying civics, economics, geography, and history. Materials are culturally relevant; use multiple narratives, absent narratives and counter-narratives; and are based on Minnesota standards.  

    Elementary Social Studies:

    • allows young learners to explain relationships with other people, institutions, and the environment
    • equips them with knowledge and understanding of the past
    • provides them with skills for productive problem solving and decision making as well as for assessing issues and making thoughtful value judgments
    • teaches a framework for responsible citizen participation locally, nationally, and globally.

    Skills that enhance critical thinking, social emotional development, prosocial attitudes, interpersonal interactions, and information literacy are more meaningful and useful when developed within the context of social studies.

  • Guidelines

    Schedule and format

    • Teach Social Studies three times per week (or equivalent schedule) for 45 minutes each time.
    • Follow the workshop model based on grade-level benchmarks, work time, and closing.

     Instruction and Materials

    • Provide a classroom library with:
      • leveled reading on subjects connected to grade-level Social Studies benchmarks
      • culturally relevant texts, including narratives from multiple perspectives.
    • Use children’s literature to support understanding of foundational skills, concepts and content.
    • Ensure that students see themselves reflected in the resources, lessons and children’s literature used for understanding Citizenship/Government, Economics, North American Geography and Early History of the Americas.
    • Provide access to relevant experiences outside the classroom and use digital resources to engage students and enhance understanding of concepts.
    • Use social studies content as a context for practicing reading, writing, speaking and listening.  
    • Recognize that each grade level’s Social Studies provides the foundation for the next level; student success in middle school courses is dependent on learning Social Studies at the elementary level.

  • Variations

    Social Studies Inquiry

    • Invite students to investigate a guiding question central to a concept.
    • Provide resources to help shape the investigation.
    • Help students draw conclusions about the concept as they construct answers based on their research.

  • Assessment

    • Make formative and summative assessments part of classroom routines.
    • Align assessments with unit goals and language found in the elementary progress reports.


  • key image For Elementary Social Studies Schoology group access, please contact Rebecca Biel (rebecca.biel@spps.org)