The social studies curriculum for the lower grades focuses on social responsibilities both at home and in society. Kindergarteners identify their responsibilities to their families, school, and community. By doing this, they learn the necessity of being concerned citizens. The social studies curriculum in grade one is integrated into Language Arts allowing students to continue learning about family, community, and school naturally. First grade students study national heroes, holidays, map skills, and the environment. They explore the similarities and differences between their lives and the lives of first graders in other cultures, time periods, and communities.
Second graders’ social studies units include building community, responsibility, exploration, our changing world, creative ideas, and traditions as guided by the Reading Street series. Economics is explored in a project where students “create” a factory and are introduced to using resources to make, advertise, and sell products. Second grade students also explore the origins of their families in a Generations unit.
Students in grade three learn about immigration, geographical map skills, and local, state, and national governments. Caring for the environment is particularly emphasized, valued, and encouraged in this grade’s curriculum. Third grade students also celebrate cultural differences by participating in a field trip to the Cincinnati Children’s Museum followed by an in-depth project that explores an individual country’s culture. Additionally, they learn economics basics by creating product or service advertisements on Microsoft Publisher and presenting their advertisements to “potential investors”.
The social studies curriculum for the middle grades begins with grade four’s study of Ohio history, culture, economy, geography, government, and current events. In order to better understand Ohio geography, students study general concepts such as longitude and latitude. Students’ classroom learning is coupled with field trips to local places of historical interest such as the Cincinnati Freedom Center and the Rankin House in Ripley, Ohio. Additionally, fourth graders work on a collaborative project with sixth-grade students in which they compare the slavery of Jews in ancient Egypt to the slavery of African-Americans in the early United States.
In grade five, students study the Western Hemisphere, its geographic features, early history, cultural development, and economic change. Students learn about the early inhabitants of the Americas and the impact of European exploration and colonization. The geographic focus includes the study of contemporary regional characteristics, the movement of people, products and ideas, and cultural diversity. Students also develop their understanding of the economic relationship between markets and available resources.
Sixth graders study ancient civilizations of the Eastern Hemisphere beginning with Mesopotamia and ending with the Roman Empire. Geographic understanding and map skills are emphasized to explain the early movement of humans out of Africa, culminating in their establishment of early civilizations. Additionally, characteristics of these civilizations are analyzed as to their origins and efficacy.
Seventh graders are immersed in an integrated study of world history, beginning with ancient Greece and continuing through the age of global exploration. All four social studies strands are used to illustrate how historic events are shaped by geographical, social, cultural, economic, and political factors. Students continue to develop their understanding of how ideas and events from the past have shaped the world today. Students also cultivate their research, presentation and public speaking skills, using technology as an integral facet of the curriculum.
Grade eight’s social studies program includes the study of American History from the Colonial period through Reconstruction. Emphasis is placed on analyzing primary and secondary sources for the purpose of reporting various perspectives of historical events and their aftermath. Students study the influence of Enlightenment philosophers coupled with the dissatisfaction with colonial rule that led to American independence and the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Geography skills are used to analyze the causes of westward and economic expansion in the early United States. Slavery and other issues leading to The Civil War are analyzed as well as the effects of post-war Reconstruction. Throughout this grade, students continue to incorporate technology into their research, presentation, and public speaking skills. Students also participate in Jewish Court of all Time (JCAT), an online “competition” run by the Education Department at the University of Michigan, during which they portray an historic character associated with Jewish history and are judged by other students in a simulated court case.