Hands-On Social Studies in 5th and 6th Grade

Terrance’s 5/6 social studies classroom is filled with bright posters and chart paper notes detailing all that students have already learned about the world since school began. One wall is bordered by an alphabet (pictured above) featuring terminology students will learn this year. The first units for the year have given students a taste of what the coming months have in store.

Fifth grade students got an introduction to geography when they read Me on the Map by Joan Sweeney, an introduction to maps that begins at the very local level (in the narrator’s bedroom) and zooms out to her street, town, state, country, world and beyond. Students then created their own versions of the book. “This helps to show students that they’re part of this whole thing called the universe,” Terrance explains. That ability to zoom in and out when looking at geography is a skill they’ll use all year. “Although we live here in this region as part of the US, students will learn how we as a country interact with other parts of the world.” Over the course of the year, the study of geography in 5th grade will involve looking at regions of the globe and the various challenges they face and thinking about what solutions could be applied to these challenges. 

Sixth grade students got to preview their upcoming units of study by each diving into one of the civilizations they’ll be studying this year. They turned their research into a National Geographic cover, highlighting some facet of the civilization that applied to each of the 6 perspectives they’ll learn about: geography, religion, achievements, policies, economy, and social structure (GRAPES). The class will delve into these facets of ancient civilizations with a particular eye to how inventions of these civilizations shaped facets of our life today in the US. “They’ll be looking at what achievements they came up with and how we have revolutionized those today.” Terrance explained.  

He’s excited about the rich projects and products students will create for each unit of study, building on the posters and books they completed in this first month of the year. That will include everything from creating their own history video series to letters to President Biden to socratic seminars and debates. “I feel a lot of excitement around allowing them to take the knowledge they are gaining and turn it into their own demonstration of learning.”

Located in College Park, MD, Friends Community School is a progressive Quaker K-8 day school, founded on the belief that every child is a valued member of our community. We offer a challenging curriculum imbued with strong values of equality, integrity, community, environmental stewardship, simplicity and peaceful conflict resolution, rooted in our Quaker heritage.
Friends Community School
5901 Westchester Park Drive
College Park, Maryland 20740