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Social Studies and the Young Learner November/December 2019

SSYL November/December 2019 Cover


The Fifty States Project: Learning About America, One Care Package at a Time
Kelly McPherson

As a fifth grade teacher, I get to teach many subjects such as math, language arts, and science, but my true love is social studies. Because Virginia has not established social studies standards specifically for the fifth grade, my school division developed a local course called, My Place in Time and Space.1 One compelling (conceptual, divergent) question in the course is How am I connected to other spaces and places? Two supporting questions (answerable with facts or opinions) are Where have I been? and Where do I want to go in the world? To help my students engage with these inquiries, I include lessons about the geography, culture, and history of the United States over the course of the school year through our fifty states project. PreK-Elementary     Geography


Mrs. Mink Goes to Washington: The First Japanese American Member of Congress
Elyse Ledford, Ilene R. Berson, Michael J. Berson, Alexander Ledford

In this article, we offer resources and activities that highlight Patsy Mink's congressional achieve- ments and experiences, and push young students to think about the institution of Congress with a gendered lens. PreK-Elementary     Civics/Government, US History


Economic Thinking with Jon Klassen's Animal Hat Books
Jennifer Lynn Gallagher, Eibhlin Kelly

Economics is a discipline of social studies that helps us understand how to make choices given limited resources—an inquiry vital to personal and societal success in today's world. Introducing economic thinking at the elementary level can provide students early with knowledge and skills that transcend the classroom, preparing each child to fulfill many different types of economic citizenship, including the ability to make sound personal decisions, to participate in collective action, [and] to struggle against economic inequality.

In this article, we share an idea we created to purposefully integrate economic thinking into elementary curriculum by exploring the economic principles in a popular children's book series—books that many teachers are already using in class- rooms. We also provide examples from Ms. Holloman's fourth grade classroom in North Carolina— where our Animal Hats and Economics unit of study was first piloted.



Live It to Learn It: Making Elections Personally Meaningful
Margit E. McGuire, Karen Nicholson, Allan Rand

How do we preserve our civil society and dynamic political system and prepare students to be active citizens in a democratic society? The need for civic education is more essential now than ever before, and students deserve access to powerful civic lessons that actively engage them in learning about our democracy. The ultimate goal would be for students to be able to study and solve problems arising in everyday life just as adults in a democracy should do. For example, students could participate in the developing story of a presidential election, as this article will describe. PreK-Elementary     Civics/Government


Veterans Day Then and Now: First Graders Learn from Primary Sources and Take Action
Michelle Bauml, Lisa May

Introducing patriotic holidays such as Veterans Day with historical photographs and other primary sources in classrooms can not only spark children's interest, but also promote critical thinking and historical comprehension.1 Meaningful, hands-on historical lessons can also motivate children to take informed action about issues they care about.

We begin this article with a brief history of Veterans Day, followed by a description of two lessons in which first grade teacher and co-author Lisa May used historical photographs to introduce students to Veterans Day. Next, we describe a student-directed school-wide Veterans Day program that resulted from lessons that involved students in the analysis of primary sources. PreK-Elementary     Civics/Government, US History