Social Studies - 5th Grade
Printable Version (pdf)
In the third grade, students built conceptual understandings of community, culture, and
government. They learned basic geographic terms and geographic features necessary for human
settlement and success. They applied their understanding of culture and community as they
learned more about indigenous cultures in the Americas. They began to explore the rights and
responsibilities central to representative government.
In the fourth grade, students will build on these foundational concepts as they learn about the
present state of Utah. Students will study history, government, economics, culture, and
geography to build their understanding of Utah's past and present, as well as make inferences
about Utah's future. Inquiry into current events will help students make connections between the
past and the present. Students will enlarge their world connections as they trace the global
travels of people from many diverse cultures who now call Utah home.
In the fifth grade, students will enlarge the study of history, government, economics, and
geography as they study the United States. There is neither an intention nor a possibility of
successful "coverage" of all of United States history and geography or all of the social,
economic, and political movements that have helped create the story of America. Rather,
students should "discover" and "uncover" this story, with attention to the overarching concepts
of global interconnectedness, the processes of continuity and change over time, the rights and
responsibilities we all share, and the systems of power, authority, and governance we create.
Primary source documents and literature that recounts the stories of exemplary character and life
skills will help students understand their own place in the continuing saga of America.
The fifth grade core is presented in a chronological framework, separated into eras in a
modification of the organizing framework of the National Standards for History. Under the
rubric of these interconnected eras, students will be able to explore each era's essential ideas and
events. The eras are: Exploration and Colonization, Beginnings of Self-Government, the
Constitution and Bill of Rights, the Expansive 19th Century, and The United States on the World
Stage. By framing the history of the United States within comprehensible sections, students will
be supported in their own cognitive development. As students develop a basic understanding of
key events and the basic chronology of United States history, the nation's geography, and its
economic history, they will be building a foundation that will serve them well in the years to
The eras selected underscore that while there is much more content in studying the United States
than can be covered in a year, there are essential aspects students should learn. As students
develop a basic understanding of key events and the basic chronology of United States history,
the nation's geography, and its economic history, they will be building a foundation that will
serve them well in the years to come.
The most important goal: a well-lived life
Excitement, wonder, inquiry, delight, and puzzlement are central to meaningful learning in social
studies. Social studies should be fun and intriguing for all students, and provide opportunities to
make important life-long connections between the past, present, and future. Students who
appreciate the sacrifices that have been made in the past and understand the challenges that lie
ahead can make better decisions in the present.
Core Standards of the Course
Online Standards Resource
Benchmark: The era of the exploration and colonization of the Americas by Europeans marked the beginning of the recorded history of what is now the United States. This period also marked the beginning of global trade and cultural exchanges that would alter the lives of people around the world. This era would significantly affect the range of personal freedom among individuals and groups in the Americas. The growing conflicts between American Indian populations and European colonists, and the expansion of the African slave trade provide contrasts to the emerging development of self-rule.
Students will understand how the exploration and colonization of North America transformed human history.
Describe and explain the growth and development of the early American colonies.
Using maps - including pre-1492 maps - and other geographic tools, locate and analyze the routes used by the explorers.
Explain how advances in technology lead to an increase in exploration (e.g. ship technology)
Identify explorers who came to the Americas and the nations they represented.
Determine reasons for the exploration of North America (e.g., religious, economic, political).
Compare the geographic and cultural differences between the New England, Middle, and Southern colonies (e.g., religious, economic, political).
Analyze contributions of American Indian people to the colonial settlements.
Assess the global impact of cultural and economic diffusion as a result of colonization.
Describe the cultural and economic impacts that occurred as a result of trade between North America and other markets (e.g., arts, language, ideas, the beginning and expansion of the slave trade, new agricultural markets).
Analyze and explain the population decline in American Indian populations (i.e. disease, warfare, displacement).
Distinguish between the rights and responsibilities held by different groups of people during the colonial period.
Compare the varying degrees of freedom held by different groups (e.g. American Indians, landowners, women, indentured servants, enslaved people).
Explain how early leaders established the first colonial governments (e.g. Mayflower compact, charters).
Describe the basic principles and purposes of the Iroquois Confederacy.
Benchmark: The English colonies in North America began to organize and discuss creating an independent form of government separate from England's rule. After making their case in their Declaration of Independence, the colonies engaged in a Revolutionary war that culminated in their independence and the creation of a new nation, the United States of America.
Students will understand the chronology and significance of key events leading to self-government.
Describe how the movement toward revolution culminated in a Declaration of Independence.
Explain the role of events that led to declaring independence (e.g., French and Indian War, Stamp Act, Boston Tea Party).
Analyze arguments both for and against declaring independence using primary sources from Loyalist and patriot perspectives.
Explain the content and purpose for the Declaration of Independence.
Evaluate the Revolutionary War's impact on self-rule.
Plot a time line of the key events of the Revolutionary War.
Profile citizens who rose to greatness as leaders.
Assess how the Revolutionary War changed the way people thought about their own rights.
Explain how the winning of the war set in motion a need for a new government that would serve the needs of the new states.
Benchmark: The new United States needed a set of rules. A group of leading thinkers of the Revolutionary era met to create a new document to lay out the form of the new government. Drawing upon ideas both old and new, and finding ways to compromise to meet the needs and demands of multiple interests, they created this new government charter called the Constitution. The Constitution created a strong national government with separate branches within the government to insure there were checks on power and balances of responsibilities. The Constitution has been changed, or amended, numerous times since then, first with the addition of the Bill of Rights.
Students will understand the rights and responsibilities guaranteed in the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Assess the underlying principles of the US Constitution as the framework for the United States’ form of government, a compound constitutional republic.
Recognize ideas from documents used to develop the Constitution (e.g. Magna Carta, Iroquois Confederacy, Articles of Confederation, Virginia Plan).
Analyze goals outlined in the Preamble.
Distinguish between the role of the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches of the government.
Explain the process of passing a law.
Describe the concept of checks and balances.
Discover the basis for the patriotic and citizenship traditions we have today (i.e. Pledge of Allegiance, flag etiquette, voting).
Assess how the US Constitution has been amended and interpreted over time, and the impact these amendments have had on the rights and responsibilities of citizens of the United States.
Explain the significance of the Bill of Rights.
Identify how the rights of selected groups have changed and how the Constitution reflects those changes (e.g. women, enslaved people).
Analyze the impact of the Constitution on their lives today (e.g. freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, petition).
Benchmark: As the United States expanded westward, major issues, some of them from the first years of the nation, began to challenge the stability of the nation. As the nation expanded, issues of states rights, the institution of slavery, and economic development culminated in a Civil War. This war formally ended slavery and strengthened the power of the Federal government. The era after the Civil War was a time of major economic development and technological innovation.
Students will understand that the 19th century was a time of incredible change for the United States, including geographic expansion, constitutional crisis, and economic growth.
Investigate the significant events during America's expansion and the roles people played.
Identify key reasons why people move and the traits necessary for survival.
Examine causes and consequences of important events in the United States expansion (e.g. Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark expedition, treaties with American Indians, Homestead Act, Trail of Tears, California Gold Rush).
Compare the trails that were important during westward expansion (e.g. Oregon, Mormon, Spanish, California).
Assess the impact of expansion on native inhabitants of the west.
Assess the geographic, cultural, political, and economic divisions between regions that contributed to the Civil War.
Describe the impact of physical geography on the cultures of the northern and southern regions (e.g. industrial resources, agriculture, climate).
Compare how cultural and economic differences of the North and South led to tensions.
Identify the range of individual responses to the growing political conflicts between the North and South (e.g. states rights advocates, abolitionists, slaveholders, enslaved people).
Evaluate the course of events of the Civil War and its impact both immediate and long-term.
Identify the key ideas, events, and leaders of the Civil War using primary sources (e.g. Gettysburg Address, Emancipation Proclamation, news accounts, photographic records, diaries).
Contrast the impact of the war on individuals in various regions (e.g. North, South, West).
Explain how the Civil War helped forge ideas of national identity.
Examine the difficulties of reconciliation within the nation.
Understand the impact of major economic forces at work in the post-Civil War.
Assess how the free-market system in the United States serves as an engine of change and innovation.
Describe the wide-ranging impact of the Industrial Revolution (e.g. inventions, industries, innovations).
Evaluate the roles new immigrants played in the economy of this time.
Benchmark: The United States now has a range of influence that spans the globe. This emergence of power gained fullest expression in the 20th century. The touchstone events of war and worldwide economic depression, coupled with social movements based on the democratic ideals central to the United States Constitution, positioned the United States as a world superpower. With this power comes questions about the role and responsibilities the United States can and should play in the world.
Students will address the causes, consequences and implications of the emergence of the United States as a world power.
Describe the role of the United States during World War I, The Great Depression, and World War II.
Review the impact of World War I on the United States.
Summarize the consequences of the Great Depression on the United States (e.g. mass migration, the New Deal).
Analyze how the United States' involvement in World War II led to its emergence as a superpower.
Assess the impact of social and political movements in recent United States history.
Identify major social movements of the 20th century (e.g. the women's movement, the civil rights movement, child labor reforms).
Identify leaders of social and political movements
Evaluate the role of the United States as a world power.
Assess differing points of view on the role of the US as a world power (e.g. influencing the spread of democracy, supporting the rule of law, advocating human rights, promoting environmental stewardship).
Identify a current issue facing the world and propose a role the United States could play in being part of a solution (e.g. genocide, child labor, civil rights, education, public health, environmental protections, suffrage, economic disparities).
http://www.uen.org - in partnership with Utah State Board of Education
(USBE) and Utah System of Higher Education
(USHE). Send questions or comments to USBE Specialist -
and see the Social Studies website. For
general questions about Utah's Core Standards contact the Director
These materials have been produced by and for the teachers of the
State of Utah. Copies of these materials may be freely reproduced
for teacher and classroom use. When distributing these materials,
credit should be given to Utah State Board of Education. These
materials may not be published, in whole or part, or in any other
format, without the written permission of the Utah State Board of
Education, 250 East 500 South, PO Box 144200, Salt Lake City, Utah