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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

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.

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