The Social Studies Core in kindergarten to second grade has two broad components. The first component is one of expanding social themes for the child: self, family, classroom, school, neighborhood, and community. This first component is reflected at the following grade levels.
During the course of kindergarten, students learn basic concepts of historical time sequence and geographic directions. Emphasis is placed on safe practices and the importance of following rules and respecting the rights of others. Students are also taught national symbols and songs.
First grade students focus on learning school rules for personal safety and the safety of others, as well as elements of good citizenship through examples in history and literature that highlight honesty, kindness, and responsibility (e.g., George Washington, Martin Luther King, Jr., etc.). State and national symbols as signs of citizen unity are also addressed.
Second grade students are taught their roles in the school and in the community. Students develop an understanding of the diversity of cultural backgrounds, belief systems, ethnicities, and languages by observing their school, neighborhood, and community. Second grade students continue to develop their knowledge of symbols and map skills. Citizenship and community service are also emphasized.
The second major component of the Social Studies Core Curriculum introduces students to four social studies conceptual strands: culture, citizenship, geography, and financial literacy. Details of each strand are noted below.
The first strand provides for the study of culture and cultural diversity. Culture is the shared social process whereby members of a group communicate meaning and make sense of their world. Culture helps students understand themselves as individuals and as members of various groups. This understanding allows students to relate to people in our nation and throughout the world.
The second strand includes experiences that offer civic ideals, principles and practices of how a citizen should act in a democratic republic. Citizenship includes both the attitudes and the actions of a citizen in a democratic society. The development of responsible citizenship in grades K-2 fosters appropriate participation in group activities such as assuming responsibilities in the school and neighborhood, understanding the civic responsibility to vote, and the importance of state and national holidays, symbols, and landmarks.
The third strand extracts experiences from the student's neighborhood, towns, and state to supply students with basic geographic knowledge and skills. The purpose of geography is to understand the physical and cultural features of places and their natural settings. Geographic tools such as compasses, maps, and globes are utilized to help students acquire, arrange, and use information to make decisions important to their well-being (e.g., how to get to a friend's house, or where to shop or how to go to school).
The last strand introduces students to simple economic principles and decisions. Financial literacy gives a student the ability to understand finances and how to manage money. Students learn how to prioritize their economic wants, and make basic financial decisions.
The K-2 Social Studies Core presents the classroom teacher with opportunities for instruction, practice, and application of essential reading skills such as sequencing events, determining the main idea and supporting details, establishing cause and effect, determining problem and solution, and comparing and contrasting conditions and situations. Content vocabulary is also provided at each grade level with each theme and standard, offering many opportunities for critical vocabulary instruction.
The classroom teacher is encouraged to address reading skills as part of ongoing social studies instruction. The social studies Core and accompanying Social Studies material should be utilized during the reading instructional period to support the development of essential content reading skills.
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