Social Studies » Elementary


Grades K-5 Social Studies Overview
The purpose of the social studies curriculum in the Westfield Public Schools, in accord with the goals of the Board of Education, is to assist in the maximum development of each student according to individual needs. The Westfield social studies curriculum, is aligned with the New Jersey Student Learning Standards for Social Studies and the National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies, provide that at all levels (K-5), building on and reinforcing prior concepts and activities, each student will:
Explore how individuals recognize, develop and maintain their personal identity in society in order to understand relationships and interactions among individuals, groups and institutions.
  • Explain how and why people governing institutions in order to positively participate in those institutions as citizens.
  • Develop a historical perspective and analyze how and why things change over time in order to make informed decisions.
  • Evaluate how individuals and societies balance wants and needs in order to make responsible decisions about how to use the world’s limited resources.
  • Demonstrate an appreciation and respect for diverse cultures in order to function in a global society.
  • Utilize tools such as maps, charts and graphs to analyze how people, places and the environment interact.
  • Analyze multiple perspectives using primary and secondary resources in order to understand the complexity of the human experience.
Students will achieve these goals through the exploration of thematic units at each grade level.

Who am I?
  • What is family
  • How are we part of a community?
  • How do people live around the world?
Grade One
  • What makes our school community successful?
  • What roles do families play in our lives?
  • How are we alike and different from people in other places around the world?
Grade Two
  • What is a community?
  • How are communities of the past similar and different from communities today?
  • How are communities around the world alike and different?
  • How can people be responsible citizens in taking care of our environment?
Grade Three
  • How do the five themes of geography help us understand the world?
  • What role did geography play in the development of regional differences in the United States and in Native American settlements?
  • How has immigration influenced our country? How have people from diverse cultures contributed to the development of an American culture?
  • How and why has Westfield adapted over time to meet the needs of people in the community?
  • How does society make responsible decisions about how to use the world’s limited resources?
Grade Four
In the fourth grade students study the history of North America, including exploration, the settlement of the thirteen colonies, the American Revolution and the creation of the U.S. Constitution. Students also study the democratic principles of the U.S. government and the role that citizens play in a democratic society. During the year students explore thematic units through the following essential questions:
  • Why do people from diverse cultures sometimes experience conflict?
  • Why did colonists begin to develop an 'American' identity?
  • Why was New Jeresy's location significant in the American Revolutionary War?
  • How did the decisions of individuals and groups influence the development of New Jersey and the United States in the past, present and future?
  • What is the role of citizens in the American system of republican democracy?
  • How do people in different places and times make their decisions about how to utilize their resources?
  • How can we balance the need for economic growth and the preservation of a healthy environment in New Jersey and the United States?
Grade Five
The fifth grade curriculum invites students to recognize the growing importance of their role in the global community. As tomorrow's leaders students will work across geographic borders with people from different backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences. In the fifth grade students practice global thinking as they investigate regional case studies to understand the changing relationships between people, places, and resources. Student inquiry, collaboration, and problem solving activities guide student learning as they evaluate globally significant issues such as; overpopulation, food shortage, and globalization. This exploration is grounded by a course essential question and unit essential questions. The unifying theme, spatial thinking, is emphasized during the year to develop globally aware students who are active responsible citizens.
Regional Cases Studies Include:
North America (Canada & the United States), Latin America (Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil), Africa (Egypt, Sub-Sahara, South Africa), Asia (India, China, Japan)
Course Essential Question: How does physical and human geography interact to influence and determine the development of cultures and societies throughout the world?
Unit Essential Questions:
  • What can geography teach us about the United States and the world?
  • What are the costs and benfits of people adapting the environment to meet their needs?
  • How do the environment and natural resources contribute to the preservation and development of culture?
  • How do belief systems impact the daily lives of individuals and shape their social interactions?
  • What is globalization and how does if affect people and places?