Chapter 1 - Section 3

Social Studies Subject Areas

     The four core social studies disciplines that should be part of the elementary school social studies program are civics, economics, geography, and history, according to the National Council for the Social Studies. In developing their state standards, some states organized these disciplines in different ways. The New York Standards, for example, define five content areas: history of the United States and New York; World History; Geography; Economics; and Civics, Citizenship and Government. The Oregon Social Sciences Academic Content Standards add financial literacy and social science analysis to the four core disciplines as categories for their social studies standards.


Alexander Hamilton on a Ten Dollar Bill

     Economics is the study of how people use resources to meet their needs for food, shelter, clothing, and recreation. An important focus of teaching economics is making effective choices and decisions. Students can find out about wants and needs while reading the book If you Give a Mouse a Cookie during an economics lesson.Teachers can help their students be more effective consumers with activities about advertising. Students can learn about financial literacy while playing games. In the video, Financial Literacy, for example, kindergarteners learn about financial literacy.

Getting an Early Start on Financial Literacy

Civics and Government

Chase County Courthouse
Cottonwood Falls, KS
Kansas Geological Society

     Civics and government (political science) is the study of how people govern themselves and how they are governed by others. Citizenship education, which helps promote responsibility and other virtues children need to acquire to participate as productive members of their communities. Students can explore how the government works with Ben Franklin at Ben’s Guide. Teachers can encourage students to learn about their rights while playing iCivics games.

     Citizenship education and character education can help students develop skills for getting along with others that will help them in real life settings. In the following video from TED Talks, a teenage student, McKenna Pope, encourages students to take action on issues of importance to them.

Want to be an Activist? Start with Your Toys - McKenna Pope


The Alamo
San Antonio, Texas

     History is the study of people who lived in the past and how the past is important today and for the future. When studying history, students can ride with Sybil Ludington during the Revolutionary War. Teachers can plan lessons to help students explore the western United States with Lewis and Clark and Sacagawea. While talking with family members, students can learn more about the history of their family by using Family Ties and Fabric Tales: Elementary Grades.

     The World History for Us All website at San Diego State University provides a video titled History of the World in Seven Minutes.

History of the World in Seven Minutes


Sea Gull, La Jolla, California
Linda Oaks

     Geography is the study of how the lands people live in have affected them and how people have affected the lands they live in. When studying geography, students can lean about how species depend on each other in ecosystems. Teachers can take their students on virtual field trips to explore different places throughout the world. Students can learn about ways to care for the environment and the habitat in which they live. A National Geographic video, Maps and Human Migration, demonstrates classroom teaching about mapping.

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