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Social Studies and the Young Learner January/February 2019

As we near the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the 19th Amendment in 1920, it is a fitting time for elementary educators to reconsider ways of addressing and enhancing women’s studies in the PK-6 social studies curriculum. Contributors to this guest-edited issue of Social Studies and the Young Learner have done just that.

I hope you find these articles as instructive and useful as we have. And when you implement some of these lessons and approaches, drop us a line—we’d love to hear about your classroom successes. -- Bárbara C. Cruz, Guest Editor



Belle Case La Follette: A Study in Leadership in the Suffrage Movement
Kate Van Haren

Contemporary social studies instruction should focus on objectives and concepts from many disciplines at all skill levels. In this lesson, fourth and fifth grade students successfully practiced intellectual skills while analyzing primary and secondary sources that documented the life of Belle Case La Follette. The students showed they were capable of a rigorous study of the accomplishments and tribulations of a significant historical figure.

PreK-Elementary     US History


Beyond Pocahontas: Learning from Indigenous Women Changemakers
Turtle Island Social Studies Collective

When Shirley Chisholm (in 1972) and then Hillary Clinton (in 2008, and again in 2016) ran for president, there was great excitement. Indeed, electing the “first woman” to the Office of the President would be an important milestone. Yet, ndigenous women have long held positions of leadership, including the position of President, Chairperson, or Chief, among other titles, within their Native nations.

In this unit of study, we describe how students in grades 3–5 can learn about and from Indigenous women changemakers and their professions, communities, and Native nations.

PreK-Elementary     US History


Remembering the Ladies: Connect to Local Women’s History using Storytelling

In this article, we offer a rich description for how to highlight women’s voices in history through storytelling while engaging students in historical thinking skills rooted in primary source documents. PreK-Elementary     US History


Pullout: Researching the Biography of a Local Woman
Tina M. Ellsworth, Janelle Stigall, Amy Walker



Where Are the Women? A Continuing Absence on U.S. Currency
Amy Allen

Early in the semester, during a seemingly benign math lesson over money, one of the students in my second and third grade blended classroom halted the instruction to ask “Wait! Why are there no women on money? Is there any money with women on it?” Never one to miss an opportunity to get my students thinking critically, we took some time to discuss why that might be. In considering how to approach this topic in the classroom, I drew on several areas of research: the marginalization of women in history, the use of inquiry in the elementary classroom, and incorporating discussion in lessons.

PreK-Elementary     US History


HERstory: When We were at War
Jing Williams

Can you name several well-known military personnel throughout U.S. history? When hearing this question, most people may begin reciting names like George Washington, Ulysses Grant, George Patten, or Norman Schwarzkopf Jr., who all happen to be men. When thinking about the U.S. military historically, we tend to imagine that it is a man’s world. While men continue to dominate our military, women have also been quick to put on a uniform and helped defend U.S. soil since the birth of the nation. However, both society and academia have failed to represent women’s contributions to the war effort in a well-rounded way. Most people still do not know much about “herstory” at war. To emphasize the importance of teaching herstory at war in the elementary social studies classrooms, this article provides rich examples of children’s literature about women who have served in the U.S. military and teaching ideas for how to include the voices and experiences of women service members.


PreK-Elementary     US History


A Different Kind of Superhero: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Andrea S. Libresco

Two accounts of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, published in the last two years and named as Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young Readers, are welcome additions to biography shelves in school classrooms and libraries. Both books reviewed here, Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R. B. G. vs. Inequality and I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark, are inspirational and tell a story that is both typical and exceptional–the striving of the children of immigrants and their conviction that the law could be an instrument of societal change.

PreK-Elementary     US History