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Social Studies and the Young Learner

The goal of Social Studies and the Young Learner is to capture and enthuse elementary teachers across the country by providing relevant and useful information about the teaching of social studies to elementary students.The teaching techniques presented in this peer-reviewed journal are designed to stimulate the reading, writing, and critical thinking skills vital to classroom success. SSYL is published quarterly: September/October; November/December; January/February; and March/April. Members who receive SSYL also get two issues of Social Education—the May/June issue (which includes the Notable Trade Books for Young People list) and the September issue.

Read Current and Back issues of Social Studies and the Young Learner

The caption for this back-issue cover photo reads, "Students can observe bees and how they behave, while also learning about what we can do to reduced threats to bee survival such as habitat loss, diminishing of native plant species, and overuse of pesticides. Photo by Sydney Franklin --Eyana, the Bee-- 2012 ("

Guidelines for Contributors to SSYL

The goal of Social Studies and the Young Learner is to a) capture and enthuse elementary teachers across the country; and b) provide relevant and useful information about the teaching of social studies to elementary students. The editor especially encourages submission of manuscripts authored by K-5 classroom teachers themselves, or co-authored by professors and classroom teachers. Currently there are no established issue themes; instead, every issue is open for possible social studies topics.

Submitting Your Manuscript

Submit your work online at After registering, you’ll receive an email with a temporary user ID and password. Follow the steps for uploading a manuscript, title page, figures, tables, or graphics.


Follow guidelines at the website. The authors' names should not appear within the paper for purposes of blind peer review. (It is okay if a citation to your own previous book or paper appears in the notes.)

With regard to citation notes, follow either The Chicago Manual of Style or the APA Style Manual. We will format and then publish articles using The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993). See examples of notes in the journal.

Margins & Spacing: 0.75 inch margins all around; 1.5 space between lines.
Font: 12-point, Times New Roman
Length: 3,000 words maximum, not including notes, references, or tables.

Images and Examples

Evidence of learning from an elementary classroom is encouraged, but not required. If possible, include examples of student work and learning—writing, photos of projects, art, or other media. Submit tables, graphics, photos, etc. at the website. Please set your digital camera at high resolution if you take action photos of "students doing social studies." Authors must obtain parental permission allowing publication of photos of students, as well as permission for the reprinting (in SSYL) of copyrighted materials used in a lesson (e.g., a historical painting in a museum, or a recent photo published in the news).

Peer Review

SSYL is peer reviewed. If a manuscript is considered for publication, the author must be willing to work with the editor on revisions. SSYL is published by the National Council for the Social Studies.


Authors of published manuscripts receive up to 50 complimentary copies of the journal in which the article appears, courtesy of NCSS. Authors are not paid for contributions.

If you have questions as you are planning your paper, please feel free to contact Editor Scott Waring (University of Central Florida), at


Who May Submit an Article?

Anybody may submit an article to Social Studies and the Young Learner. The editors especially look for manuscripts co-authored by classroom teachers and professors, or authored by K-5 classroom teachers alone.

What are Good Topics?

Articles in Social Studies and the Young Learner show how social studies (history, geography, civics, economics, anthropology, etc.) is taught in the pre-K-6 classroom. The lead article often provides background on the theme for that issue. A children’s literature piece describes how to use quality books in the classroom. A pullout usually includes a lesson with handouts.

How Will My Paper Be Judged?

This checklist shows the features that editors and reviewers will be watching for. Read your own paper against this checklist.

  1. I have described the basic setting (grade level, time required to teach each activity, materials and resources needed)
  2. The social studies content is strong (students learn history, civics, geography, economics, or anthropology, etc.) See the themes I-X in Expectations of Excellence: Curriculum Standards for Social Studies, which is summarized at
  3. I have used inquiry methods when appropriate (see
  4. Other teachers could use these ideas and methods (Can this lesson or activity be applied to other classrooms, in other states, with a low budget, and with a reasonable commitment of time and materials?)
  5. There is a clear assessment of student learning. (How is student learning measured at end of the lesson? Are discussion questions or test questions included?)
  6. I have linked the subject matter in my paper to state and national content standards and to the required curriculum of my school for this grade level.
  7. I have avoided using the passive voice.
    Right: The teacher corrects and grades the papers. Wrong: Papers are corrected and graded by the teacher.
  8. I follow either APA style or the Chicago style handbook for notes, and do not use Endnote or Reference Manager programs.
  9. Here is an example of the editors' preferred style-
    BOOKS: Alfie Kohn, What to Look For in a Classroom (San Francisco, CA: Josey-Bass, 1998), 45.
    ARTICLES: Bruce E. Larson, "The Makah: Exploring Public Issues During a Structured Classroom Discussion," Social Studies and the Young Learner 10, no. 1 (September/October 1997): 10-13.
    WEBSITES: "Creating the United States," (Library of Congress),
  10. When citing online resources, I recommend specific, student-friendly websites on the topic under study, avoiding statements like, "Have students check Wikipedia," or "Just Google it."
  11. I kept my reading audience in mind. (Will classroom teachers, who are the primary audience of SSYL, eagerly read this from start to finish? Will they find it useful to their actual practice?)
  12. Optional: I have included examples of classroom experience (what students said, how they responded, and pedagogical pitfalls that arose and how to avoid them)
  13. Optional: I have included examples of young students’ work (writing, art, quotes, photos of students in action)


Ask a colleague to read your paper and check it for grammar, organization, and writing style.

Who, When, and How?

Be sure to follow the basic advice found at the “Guidelines” tab to Social Studies and the Young Learner when you format text, type references, shoot photographs, write a cover letter, and submit your manuscript online.

Other Questions?

Please feel free to contact Editor Scott Waring (University of Central Florida), at


The Editor of SSYL is Scott Waring (University of Central Florida). Contact him at The NCSS Senior Editor is Steven S. Lapham at

Editorial Board

Jan Alleman – Michigan State University
Michelle Bauml – Texas Christian University
Angel Bestwick – Kutztown University
Lisa Brown Buchanan – University of North Carolina Wilmington
Lois McFadyen Christensen – University of Alabama at Birmingham
Eric Groce – Appalachian State University
Tina Heafner – University of North Carolina Charlotte
Kimberly Heckart – Prairie Ridge Elementary
Mary Beth Henning – Northern Illinois University
Lynda Herrera – University of Hawaii at Manoa
Janie Hubbard – The University of Alabama
Sarah Montgomery – University of Northern Iowa
Scott Morrison – Elon University
Kim O’Neil – National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
Scott Roberts – Central Michigan University
Tracy Rock – University of North Carolina Charlotte
Ellen Santora – Independent Researcher and Consultant
Liz Saylor – University of Georgia
Corey Sell – Metropolitan State University of Denver
Sarah Shear – Penn State University-Altoona
Kelly Sheers – West Springfield Elementary
Jay Shuttleworth – Long Island University, Brooklyn
Emma Thacker – James Madison University
Christina Tschida – East Carolina University


A Feature in Social Studies and the Young Learner

Children’s Literature

Social Studies and the Young Learner invites you to contribute to its new Children’s Literature feature, edited by Eric Groce of Appalachian State University. Send us your experiences in integrating children’s literature in the PreK-6 classroom. Consider writing a short book review or a longer article.

A book review (600 to 800 words) briefly explains how teachers can use a book or a set of books to teach one social studies activity to students in a K-6 grade (e.g. to teaching about families, costs and benefits, a figure in U.S. history, or different cultures around the world).

An article (3000 words or less) details how a teacher can use a book or set of books to teach a K-6 social studies lesson or series of lessons.
In either case, here are some guidelines for what to include:

  1. Share explicit details on how a teacher could use the book (read aloud, group study, comparison and sourcing, etc.); describing the social studies content of the lesson; explaining how the book could be integrated with any other disciplines; and citing other texts or resources that could be used during the lesson or in preparation (websites, videos, maps, background reading for teachers, etc.);
  2. Include any handout for students that you created for the lesson;
  3. Optional: Provide students’ comments and reactions to the book(s), and activities;
  4. Optional: Attach examples of student work such as writing, posters, or other products (to use as illustration in your article and evidence of learning).
  5. Employ books published within the last ten years or a classic/award winning title that has stayed in print. Consider especially books included in the Notable Social Studies Trade Books lists ( and Carter G. Woodson book award winners (

If you are submitting to the Children's Literature feature, then here are some recommendations and caveats

* Include bibliographic information (title, author, publisher, date of publication), Lexile level, the major theme(s) of the book, and any awards the book has received (such as a Notable Social Studies Trade Book listing).

* Specifying the grade or developmental level of this lesson.

* Assume that the teacher may have only one copy of the book, and may be able to photocopy only two or three pages of the book for handing out to students (per allowable educational use under copyright laws). Do not assume, in your lesson plan, that readers will be able to purchase classroom copies of the book (e.g., one for each of 25 students).

* Photos of people and artwork must be submitted as high-resolution images (minimum 300 dpi at 3X5 inches; jpg or tiff).

* If you include a photo (showing the face) of a child doing a social studies activity, include a parent-signed permission form as provided by the school principal.

* Address your cover letter to Dr. Eric Groce, Editor, Children's Literature Feature. Submit your work online at After registering, you’ll receive an email with a temporary user ID and password. Follow the steps for uploading a manuscript, title page, figures, tables, or graphics.

Call for Applications Editor of Social Studies and the Young Learner

The five-year term of the current Editor of Social Studies and the Young Learner, is ending in the summer of 2021. The Editor is a volunteer who is willing to assume a significant leadership position among elementary educators. The Editor plans issues, solicits articles, organizes the manuscript review process, and cooperates with NCSS publications staff to produce a high-quality journal. The duration of this unpaid, professional service position is five years. The new Editor would join the notable professionals who have served as SSYL Editors:

Huber M. Walsh, University of Missouri-St.
Louis Gloria T. Alter, Beloit College
Sherry L. Field, University of Texas-Austin
Linda Bennett, University of Missouri-Columbia
Andrea Libresco, Hofstra University, with Jeannette Balantic, Garden City Public Schools (NY)
Scott Waring, University of Central Florida

NCSS invites applications from NCSS members interested in this vital leadership role for elementary teachers. The responsibilities of the position include:

  • Identifying ways in which the journal can meet the professional needs of classroom teachers as they educate their students in social studies subjects;
  • Organizing theme issues, soliciting manuscripts and administering the review of solicited and unsolicited manuscripts;
  • Maintaining communications with authors and reviewers; and
  • Coordinating with NCSS editorial staff to produce an interesting, readable, and lively journal that appears on schedule.

If you are interested in the position, please submit a letter, a resume, and a statement describing your view of the main current professional needs of elementary teachers of social studies and how you, as Editor of the journal, would meet these needs. Please also include one or two samples of your most teacher-friendly and reader-friendly writing.

Please indicate to what extent you would have institutional support. Send these to Steve Lapham, Senior Editor, SSYL, via e-mail at Deadline, May 31, 2020. Please place “SSYL Editor Position” on the subject line.

Call for Expertise

Social Studies and the Young Learner Editor Selection Committee

Cover of September/October 2019 Issue
The Editor of Social Studies and the Young Learner (SSYL) is a five-year position held by an NCSS member who is a leading NCSS elementary educator. The SSYL Editor plans issues, solicits articles, organizes the manuscript review process, and cooperates with NCSS publications staff to produce a high-quality journal. The principal NCSS staff support is provided by (1) a part-time NCSS editorial staff member, who is the Senior Editor responsible for the content editing, copy editing, and production editing of the journal, and (2) the NCSS Art Director, who is responsible for the design and layout of each issue.

Scott Waring is the current Editor of Social Studies and the Young Learner, and his term expires at the end of June 2021. The next Editor will start on July 1, 2021. The process for selecting the next Editor begins more than a year before that date.

Since 2005, the appointment of a new Editor has been made by a selection committee appointed and chaired by the NCSS President-Elect, who will be President in the year when the selection of a new Editor is made (and will continue to chair the selection committee as NCSS President). The selection process is coordinated by the NCSS staff editor of Social Studies and the Young Learner. The staff editor is not a member of the committee, but keeps records of rosters, score sheets, and correspondence. The staff editor also participates in conference calls and attends the interviews.


Composition of the Selection Committee

The NCSS President-Elect appoints the selection committee, which should be reasonably representative of NCSS elementary members and their different levels (e.g., classroom teachers and university faculty). The number of members of this committee is determined by the NCSS President-Elect and has varied between five and seven members. Some characteristics of the three selection committees that met in 2005, 2010, and 2015 have been:

  1. The majority of the members of the three selection committees have been either current or past Board members with a special interest in elementary education.
  2. Between 40% (2 out of 5) and 56% (4 out of 7) of the members of the committee have been classroom teachers. The Board has viewed this representation as important for the purpose of selecting a new Editor who is teacher-friendly and who will align the journal with the NCSS objective of expanding the number of elementary teachers who are NCSS members.
  3. At least one member of each selection committee has been a member of the SSYL Editorial Board. (The SSYL Editorial Board, which consists mainly of university professors, is a voluntary advisory body appointed by the SSYL Editor. It is not an official NCSS committee or community, and its members are listed in the journal’s masthead and at
  4. At least one member of the selection committee should be a member or leader of the NCSS Early Childhood Elementary Education Community.
  5. When the list of applicants is complete, members of the selection committee are shown the list and asked to recuse themselves if they cannot be impartial (e.g., if they are colleagues of or close collaborators with a candidate).

Selection Process

The Selection Committee reviews the list of candidates and selects a short list of two candidates. Each of the two finalists is assigned the task of putting together a special issue of Social Studies and the Young Learner, which involves selecting a theme, soliciting articles, and editing them. The Selection Committee reviews these special issues, interviews the candidates, and selects one of them.  This task has been considered useful both because it is a practical test of the ability of the candidates to perform the role of Editor, and because the special issues that are submitted as part of the application process, including those put together by the unsuccessful candidates, have all been good enough in the past to eventually be published as issues of SSYL.


Proposed Schedule

The selection process will include online meetings, with a final appointment made by April 1, 2021, to provide transition time before starting work on July 1, 2021.

May 31, 2020. Deadline for Editor-candidate applications with resumes. 

By July 31, 2020. Committee members read the applications and submit score sheets, which rank the applicants.

By August 31, 2020. The top two applicants are notified and asked to plan a future special issue of SSYL, for which they will solicit and edit manuscripts. Due date is February 1, 2021.

By February 1, 2021. The manuscripts submitted by the top two applicants are forwarded to all members of the committee, along with a scoring sheet. Members review and score the manuscripts.

By March 1, 2021. The committee conducts online interviews the final two candidates, reviews scores, and votes for the new Editor.

By April 1, 2021. The new Editor works with the outgoing editor to become familiar with the role, and the new editor becomes Editor on July 1, 2021.

Fall 2021. We anticipate that the manuscripts solicited by the new Editor as part of the application process will become one of the two Fall 2021 issues of SSYL, and that the manuscripts solicited by the runner-up could become one of the first two issues of SSYL in 2022. In the past both sets of manuscripts have been good enough to be used for future issues of SSYL.


Additional Information

Please contact Steve Lapham, SSYL Senior Editor, at

If you are interested in applying to serve on the SSYL Editor Selection Committee, please submit a letter and resume, listing any publications and including any leadership and/or editing positions you have held, to, by April 30, 2020. Please place “SSYL Editor Selection Committee” on the subject line.

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