Social Studies - 3rd Grade

Standard I       Standard II       Standard III

Standard 1 Students will understand how geography influences community location and development.

Objective 1:
Determine the relationships between human settlement and geography.

Assessment Assessment Ideas
  • Memory
    Print each page on a separate color of paper.  Make enough sets for your class to play in groups of 3 or 4.  Students match the word with the definition.  You could add another set by finding pictures to go with each word then students have to match 3 things.


  1. Identify the geographic features common to areas where human settlements exist.
  2. Use map features to make logical inferences and describe relationships between human settlement and physical geography (e.g. population density in relation to latitude, cities’ proximity to water, utilization of natural resources).
  3. Compare the shapes and purposes of natural and human-made boundaries of cities, counties and states.

Objective 2:
Describe how various communities have adapted to existing environments and how other communities have modified the environment.


  1. Describe the major world ecosystems (i.e. desert, plain, tropic, tundra, grassland, mountain, forest, wetland).
  2. Identify important natural resources of world ecosystems.
  3. Describe how communities have modified the environment to accommodate their needs (e.g. logging, storing water, building transportation systems).
  4. Investigate ways different communities have adapted into an ecosystem.

Objective 3:
Analyze ways cultures use, maintain, and preserve the physical environment.

Assessment Assessment Ideas
  • Natural Resources
    Students will choose from the following projects and present their findings to the class.
    • Student will collect items to be recycled and create a display on a poster board.
    • Make a poster showing drawings or magazine cut outs of natural resources and how to protect them.
    • Write a story about a community of people who didn’t care about their natural resources. Illustrate your story.
    • Give an oral report on how a community can protect their physical environment.


  1. Identify ways people use the physical environment (e.g. agriculture, recreation, energy, industry).
  2. Compare changes in the availability and use of natural resources over time.
  3. Describe ways to conserve and protect natural resources (e.g. reduce, reuse, recycle).
  4. Compare perspectives of various communities toward the natural environment.
  5. Make inferences about the positive and negative impacts of human-caused change to the physical environment.
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Standard II Students will understand cultural factors that shape a community.

Objective 1:
Evaluate key factors that determine how a community develops.

Assessment Assessment Ideas
  • Culture Survey
    This survey (pdf) can be used to introduce students to customs in different cultures. It can also be used as an assessment after talking about different cultures.
    1. Introduce new words that students may need to know in order to take the quiz.
    2. Distribute the quiz to individuals.
    3. Have students compare their answers and discuss why they might have different answers.
    4. Feedback with the whole class.

    Students could also take this quiz home and see what information their families might know.


  1. Identify the elements of culture (e.g. language, religion, customs, artistic expression, systems of exchange).
  2. Describe how stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture.
  3. Compare elements of the local community with communities from different parts of the world (e.g. industry, economic specialization )
  4. Identify and explain the interrelationship of the environment (e.g. location, natural resources, climate) and community development (e.g. food, shelter, clothing, industries, markets, recreation, artistic creations).
  5. Examine changes in communities that can or have occurred when two or more cultures interact.
  6. Explain changes within communities caused by human inventions (e.g. steel plow, internal combustion engine, television, computer).

Objective 2:
Explain how selected indigenous cultures of the Americas have changed over time.

Assessment Assessment Ideas
  • Find Someone Who
    Students will use this paper (pdf) as they walk around the room finding other students who can answer the question. When the question has been answered the paper is signed by the one giving the answer and students will move on to find someone else who can answer another question.
  • Culture
    After completing the activity Understanding Culture have students complete a Venn diagram foldable comparing their own culture to Wesley’s.


  1. Describe and compare early indigenous people of the Americas (e.g. Eastern Woodlands, Plains, Great Basin, Southwestern, Arctic, Incan, Aztec, Mayan).
  2. Analyze how these cultures changed with the arrival of people from Europe, and how the cultures of the Europeans changed.
  3. Identify how indigenous people maintain cultural traditions today.
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Standard III Students will understand the principles of civic responsibility in classroom, community, and country.

Objective 1:
Describe the rights and responsibilities inherent in being a contributing member of a community.

Assessment Assessment Ideas
  • Rights and Responsibilities
    Have students work with a partner to create a poster or brochure explaining the rights and responsibilities associated with patriotic symbols and traditions in the United States.  A good website to refer to for information about patriotic symbols is Symbols of US Government.


  1. Identify how these rights and responsibilities are reflected in the patriotic symbols and traditions of the United States (i.e. Pledge of Allegiance, flag etiquette).
  2. List the responsibilities community members have to one another.
  3. Identify why these responsibilities are important for a functioning community (e.g. voting, jury duty, taxpaying, obedience to laws).

Objective 2:
Identify ways community needs are met by government.

Assessment Assessment Ideas
  • Service Learning Project
    As a class design/develop and complete a service learning project.  At the end of the project have students write a reflective paragraph about their experience and what they learned from the project. 
    Books that may be helpful:
    • Kids Care! 75 Ways to Make a Difference for People, Animals and the Environment, by Rebecca Olien; ISBN: 0-82496-793-3
    • The Complete Guide to Service Learning, by Cathryn Berger Kaye; ISBN: 1-57542-133-X
    • Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth, by LLC Andrews McMeel Publishing & The EarthWorks Group; ISBN: 0-59044-249-X

Questions to help you get started (taken from 4th grade Interconnections 2001):

  • What issues in your community/school are you concerned with?
  • What are some possible service projects that could address these concerns?
  • What curriculum areas would be involved in participating in this service project?
  • What do students need to know or understand first before you begin the project?
  • How much time will the project take to plan, and carry out?
  • What can you do with students after the project to evaluate the success of the project?


  1. Differentiate between personal and community needs.
  2. Identify roles of representative government (e.g. make laws, maintain order, levy taxes, provide public services).
  3. Research community needs and the role government serves in meeting those needs.

Objective 3:
Apply principles of civic responsibility.

Assessment Assessment Ideas
  • Public Service Announcement
    Working in groups of 4 have students create a PSA (Public Service Announcement) discussing current events within the classroom or school.  PSAs are intended to change attitudes by raising awareness about specific issues.  The goal of the project is to make people aware of issues going on around them.  Examples of PSA’s from Foundation for a Better Life. Students will choose a topic, complete a storyboard, and then act out or film their finished projects. 


  1. Engage in meaningful dialogue about the community and current events within the classroom, school, and local community.
  2. Identify and consider the diverse viewpoints of the people who comprise a community.
  3. Demonstrate respect for the opinions, backgrounds, and cultures of others.
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