We encourage a curiosity about the world of the past, present, and future.
The goal is to enable students to explore, experience, and form opinions about their world. To promote this exploration, the social studies curriculum combines traditional learning with experiential learning through reenactments, role-playing, and simulations.
The content of social studies curriculum was originally modeled on the Core Knowledge Sequence and the National Standards for History, Civics and Geography. Since that time, standards for Economics and Historical Understanding have also been incorporated. The scope of these standards leads to curricular content that covers a broad span of time and a wide diversity of topics.
The primary grades integrate various social studies concepts into their units of study to promote a sense of exploration. In the K/1 classroom, students learn about and experience these concepts through simulations and the building of structures. As students create a rainforest, build a pyramid, or sail the ocean on a boat, they can explore and experience geography, environmental studies, history, anthropology, trade, and government.
The tradition of simulations continues in the 2/3 classroom as students study early exploration, British colonization of North America, the American Revolution, the history and geography of Illinois and the United States, and the American pioneers. This year also introduces the concepts of governmental structures and economic systems, the popular "Classroom City."
As in the primary grades, simulations are a key component of the social studies explorations in the 4/5 class. Students spend one year traveling as tourists to experience the cultures of the world. In the first curricular year, strong emphasis is placed on geography. Students learn about maps, map usage, geographical landforms, and terms. The focus in the second curricular year is on economic systems, governments, and factors affecting population migration.
As with the other grades, the 4/5 social studies curriculum is also integrated with other curricular disciplines. For example, the unit on Ancient Greece is closely integrated with the literature unit on Greek mythology. An interdisciplinary unit on immigration includes daily journal writing by each student who assumes a specific immigrant's role, culminating in a simulation of the Ellis Island experience. Students also experience different forms of government through participation in a series of classroom simulations of oligarchy, monarchy, dictatorship, and democracy. In both years, students use the social studies textbook for weekly research of a topical question. They also read a current events news magazine, participate in class discussions, and write reflectively about relevant issues.
The middle school curriculum uses historical chronology and historical narrative to organize its three classes: Ancient Civilizations and Early Empires, Empires and Nations, and United States & the World. As the chronology of history progresses, students approach geography, political science, economics, civics, and anthropology. Students hone and shape critical thinking, writing, reading, researching, and note-taking skills. The emphasis on experiencing social studies continues through role-plays, creative assignments, small-scale simulations, and projects tied to the essential questions for each unit.
Cultures and geographies of Africa
Cities and states
Countries and continents
Age of Exploration
Colonial and Revolutionary America/
U.S. westward expansion
Maps and globes
Civics - Illinois state and U.S. national government
"Classroom City" economic simulation
Illinois study and Abraham Lincoln
Immigration and citizenship
World tour experiences in all continents
Comparative languages, economics, governments, and religions
Geography and geographic tools
Ancient Civilizations and Early Empires
Empires and Nations
United States and the World