In Kindergarten Social Studies we have learned so much this year. We have learned about farm animals, harvesting crops, habitats, and many other fun topics. The best thing about Kindergarten Social Studies is that mostly everything we learn about can be learned through hands-on activities on the farm. This has been such a wonderful experience for the Kindergarten students because they can see the things that they are learning about in real life.
One of the highlights of this year has been our unit on maple sugaring. We learned about maple sugaring in the classroom by learning about the life cycle of the tree and the basics of tapping a tree. Then, with a Farm Educator’s help, we were able to tap our own tree and see how the sap gets boiled into syrup.
The children loved this experience and were able to answer so many of the Educator’s questions because they have the benefit of going to school on a farm. The Kindergarten’s Social Studies curriculum is based on what the farm has to offer. Some other field trips this year have been visiting the dairy barn, seeing the newborn lambs, and visiting the old Dairy Barn and Coach Barn. This month we will be going to the Dairy Barn again for our dairy unit.
Our First Grade Social Studies theme focuses on Families Around the World. The children begin the year learning the meaning of the word, “culture.” From there First Graders begin pretend journeys to all seven continents and experience bits and pieces of each continent’s unique culture. Some memorable moments thus far have been creating chalk drawings that imitate seeing the northern lights in the night sky of North America, taste testing miso soup from Asia, and weaving African kente cloth from paper. At the completion of each continent unit, the children fill in their passports with facts learned, and receive a stamp on that continent’s page. In June, First Graders will have a passport full of memories from the year!
The Second Grade studies Community and Citizenship as their primary social studies theme. The children learned all about what makes up a community and the many different types of communities that exist. Students learned about local government and got to participate in our own mock election right before the real election happened last November. All children enjoyed learning about emigration and immigration and how the United States became known as “The Melting Pot.” After the Second Graders heard and read stories about some of America’s earliest, brave immigrants that came through Ellis Island, they reflected in a writing piece: What ten things would you pack in your trunk if you had to emigrate to a new country and why would you choose those particular items? The children wrote very thoughtful pieces.
This particular unit helps the students to appreciate the supportive communities around them and understand the importance of being a helpful part of their community. In addition, it also helps them to empathize with humans globally and have the desire to help immigrants feel acceptance in our country.
In the Third Grade, we begin our Social Studies curriculum learning about Vermont and Map Skills. Students learn about the different kinds of maps, what they are used for, and how to read them. In the fall we took advantage of our beautiful surroundings and ventured out into the farmyard; here children drew their own map of the space. Their maps had to include key features such as a compass rose, a key, and a title. Students are taught how to read road maps and use a location index to find towns, landmarks, etc.
Next, we study Native Americans. Students learn about the tribes that inhabited each major region of North America . We focus on how the region’s natural resources and climate affected the tribes and their way of living. This includes the type of homes they lived in, what they ate, if they were hunters or gatherers, what they wore, specific customs and traditions, etc. The unit is brought to life for the students through hands-on and interactive lessons. Students create Navajo sand art, design and create Totem Poles, build teepees in the forest, and more. We end the unit discussing the huge impact Native Americans had, and continue to have, on our everyday lives.
Currently in the Third Grade we are learning about life in Colonial Times. Students are taught about the early interactions with the European colonists and the Native Americans. Students then learn about the Thirteen Original Colonies and where they settled along the Atlantic Coast. Students learn about the New England colonies, Mid-Atlantic colonies, and the Southern colonies. And, again, how the land surrounding them affected their way of life. Students will learn the many different trades and tasks the colonists had. We will compare our way of living to the colonists’ way of living. The children have just recently finished creating their own replica of a horn book. These “books” were actually sheets of paper with the alphabet, phonics, numerals, and the lord’s prayer printed onto them. The paper was mounted on a small wooden, paddle-shaped board and protected by a thin sheet of transparent animal horn that was attached with metal strips and nails. This was an exciting project for the children as they were able to use calligraphy pens to write their manuscript, just as a Colonial child would have done. We will study the development and expansion of the colonies up through the American Revolution. Students will learn the causes and effects of the Revolution, important people of this time, and explore the Declaration of Independence.
Fourth Grade social studies has been full of fun projects, trips, and learning. We started out the year with a focus on Westward Expansion as we learned about the Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark, Sacagawea, and the Gold Rush. We even turned the LaPlatte River into the mighty Missouri, emulating Lewis and Clark’s journey as we kayaked down the river.
More recently we have focused on United States geography. We learned about the regions of the country, the state capitals, and practiced a fun song in order to recite all 50 states in alphabetical order. Students also learned about the different industries of each region as they wrote persuasive essays and created brochures in order to persuade visitors to come to a certain area of the United States.
We are currently learning about the United States government: the three branches of government, who the Vermont legislators are, how a bill becomes a law, and the role of the U.S. constitution. We enjoyed our visit to the State House in Montpelier where we learned more about lawmaking and our state’s government. We look forward to more learning and fun ahead!
Fifth Grade has an exciting year of Social Studies themes that revolve around early humans and ancient civilizations. Students begin the year learning about early humans and ancient Mesopotamia. Highlights for this unit include making fire without the use of matches and classifying skulls. Students got the opportunity to participate in an archaeological dig on the farm this year as well!
Our second theme of the year is ancient Egypt. This unit lends itself to several hands-on art and writing projects. Students created a sarcophagus in art class with Laura. They constructed pharaoh masks and mini mummies in class. Students also researched a pharaoh and wrote an evidence-based opinion writing piece on their pharaoh. Fifth Grade visited The Fleming Museum at UVM for a tour and art activity based around the museum’s ancient Egypt collection. Students ended their unit with a pyramid building STEAM challenge and an Egyptian costume party!
Students end the year with their unit on ancient Greece. Again, we will be engaged in many writing and art projects, as well as reading Greek mythology. It is a truly enriching curriculum for the children!