Fifth Grade Social Studies

America's Past

Geography of the United States
In a Social Studies Skill Builder, students work in pairs to examine transparencies that will teach them several geography skills, such as determining location with lines of latitude and longitude and identifying physical features of the United States.

Native Americans and Their Land
In a Visual Discovery activity, students work in pairs to examine images of Native American migration routes, four natural environments in North America, and an Inuit family in front of their Artic home. Students use visual details in the images and information from History Alive! America's Past to discover why Native Americans migrated to North America and how they adapted to the environments they encountered.

Native American Cultural Regions
Students learn about seven Native American cultural regions and use an annotated map to record information about cultural adaptions made by groups from each region. In a Response Group activity, students debate what three historical artifacts might have been created by a Native American group in that area. Afterward, students read to find out which artifacts were actually from that region and record notes on an annotated map.

Why Europeans Left for the New World
Students learn about European exploration in the 15th and 16th centuries by "excavating" and examining objects from a "sunken ship." In a Social Studies Skill Builder, pairs take on the role of underwater archeologists to investigate eight placards, each of which contains an image of an artifact from an explorer's sunken ship, such as a Bible, a compass, and tobacco.

Routes of Exploration to the New World
Students learn how European explorers claimed land in North America by creating an illustrated matrix that shows important details about the explorers' expeditions. In a Social Studies Skill Builder, students work in pairs to illustrate facts--such as personal background, sponsor, and impact on Native Americans--about one European explorer's expedition.

Early English Settlements
Students learn about early English settlements in North America by analyzing images of settlements and creating short act-it-outs. In a Visual Discovery activity, students analyze images of the settlements at Roanoke, Jamestown, and Plymouth.

Comparing the Colonies
Students learn about the similarities and differences among the New England, Middle, and Southern Colonies. In a Problem Solving Groupwork activity, students work in groups of four to create a billboard about one of six American colonies, such as Massachusetts, New York, or Maryland.

Facing Slavery
Students learn about slavery from the perspective of West Africans facing difficult dilemmas as European slave traders take them farther and farther from their homeland. In a Response Group activity, students respond to three dilemmas faced by Africans during enslavement: the European slave trade in West Africa, the Middle Passage, and arrival in North America.

Life in Colonial Williamsburg
Students take a "walking tour" of Williamsburg to learn about daily life in the colonial Virginia capital. In a Writing for Understanding activity, students visit six stations, each of which represents an actual site at Williamsburg, such as the Governor's Palace, Raleigh Tavern, and Bruton Parish Church.

Growing Tensions Between the Colonies and Britain
Students learn about the growing tensions between the colonists and Britain prior to the Revolutionary War and compare the situation to a strained relationship between a parent and a child. First, in an Experiential Exercise, students are given authority to plan a class party, but then feel frustrated and powerless when the teacher places restrictions on the party--much like the colonists felt when Britain imposed laws on them.

To Declare Independence or Not
Students learn about six prominent Loyalists and Patriots and record these leaders' viewpoints on whether or not the American colonies should declare independence. In a Problem Solving Groupwork activity, students work in groups of four to prepare to bring to life one of six historical figures, such as Samuel Adams and Mercy Otis Warren, for a panel debate between Loyalists and Patriots.

The Declaration of Independence
Students examine "artifacts"--such as a letter and an invitation--on Thomas Jefferson's "desk" to learn about the Declaration of Independence and the events that led to it. In a Social Studies Skill Builder, students paraphrase key excerpts from the Declaration of Independence in their own words.

The Revolutionary War
Students learn how the American colonies defeated Britain in the Revolutionary War and compare the events to a tug-of-war between two unequal opponents. In an Experiential Exercise, students engage in a tug-of-war in which the teacher changes the rules to favor a seemingly weaker team, much as a number of factors ultimately helped the American colonies win the Revolutionary War.

The Constitution
Students compare the Constitution to a three-legged stool to learn about the Constitution and how it created a stronger central government. In a Social Studies Skill Builder, students play a game in which they are presented with a series of situations with which that government might be faced, such as "Supreme Court Justice retires and must be replaced."

The Bill of Rights
Students learn about the Bill of Rights and several of its key ammendments. In an Experiential Exercise, students work in small groups to create tableaux vivants ("living scenes") that represent key amendments in the Bill of Rights

Other Resources:

Social Studies Grade Level Content Expectations for Fifth Grade 378kb PDF externallink.gif

AAPS Fifth Grade Social Studies Curriculum Map 186kb PDF

Fifth Grade Report Form 508kb PDF

Aligned Persuasive Essays using MyAccess Writing Program Link opens in new window


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