Social Studies: Developing Informed and Active Citizens

Fourth Grade Social Science Curriculum Standards

The social studies curriculum standards provide educators with the essential conceptual framework for curriculum development to prepare informed and active citizens. They serve as the foundation for professional deliberation on content standards that identify discipline-based content that should be included in a social studies curriculum.

These enduring understandings transcend specific units and courses. They help students understand the interconnectedness of people, places and events.

Geography

Geography is the study of Earth’s lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena. Its name, derived from the Greek words geo, meaning Earth, and graphein, to write, is a reflection of its focus on spatial relationships. Geographers look at how landforms develop and change over time, how people affect the landscape, and how different regions interact with one another.

The geographic principles formulated by ancient geographers are still in use today. Eratosthenes of Cyrene, for example, devised the first systems for measuring longitude and latitude, and produced some of the world’s earliest maps.

Before improved means of transportation brought the world closer together, different parts of the globe were isolated from one another. With globalization, geography studies play an important role in understanding the interrelationships of nations and cultures.

History

By fourth grade, students should have developed enough as readers to appreciate history and understand how ancient, past and current events are connected. They should be able to use and create multiple resources for learning about historical events, including maps, charts, graphs, timelines and reports.

They should also learn about the landforms, climates and natural resources of the United States’ five geographic regions. In addition, they should study the cultures of the various peoples of the United States and how they have contributed to our nation’s diversity.

Timelines are a great instructional strategy for social studies because they allow children to construct an understanding of the sequence of historical events. Research shows that even young children can develop concepts of time, continuity and change by constructing their own timelines (Alleman & Brophy, 2003). CKHG’s American History curriculum presents history from a biblical, patriotic perspective with clear, colorful illustrations and informative text.

Civics & Government

Civics and government is a branch of social science focused on systems of governance. This strand helps students understand that citizens shape the government — not vice versa — and that politicians must heed the voices of the people in order to serve them well.

Educating citizens about government structures is an important part of a democracy. If people don’t know what their role is, or what rights they have as citizens, they can’t participate in a democratic society.

A proper civics education also teaches citizens that the power of the government is limited by Constitutional rights and that their own actions can help to make changes in government policy. Civic learning is a lifelong process that occurs in schools, homes, religious congregations and associations, political campaigns, and news websites, among many other places. It enables us to be the stewards of the Constitutional rights and democratic institutions we enjoy today. Ultimately, it leads to an informed citizenry and a more democratic world.

Economics

Economics is the study of how individuals, businesses, and governments make choices about using available resources. The underlying question is how to best use scarce resources to meet society’s needs and goals. This is a multidisciplinary topic that touches on history, geography, civics/government, and science—in addition to business, law, math, and psychology.

A society’s location, customs, and beliefs influence the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The movement and migration of people and ideas affects all societies involved.

People trade goods and services for money. The amount of money a person has determines how many resources they can consume, invest, or save. Inflation, prices, and the rate of economic growth all have implications for individual and societal well-being. Using real-world examples, students examine the ways that different groups make decisions about spending and producing resources. They also identify the costs and benefits of those choices. This enables them to evaluate whether the outcome of a specific policy is likely to be positive or negative.

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