Social Studies

What students will learn this year with activities and resources for each item

This year we will learn four main areas of Social Studies:  Citizenship and Government, Economics, Geography, and History.  Before fourth grade, all  four  areas are equally emphasized.   Starting in fourth grade, the “lead area” is Geography focusing on political geography and the cultural landscape of North America.

Citizenship and Government

  • Describe how people take action to influence a decision on a specific issue; explain how local, state, national or tribal governments have addressed that issue.
  • Describe tribal government and some of the services it provides; distinguish between United States and tribal forms of government.
  • Identify the major roles and responsibilities of elected and appointed leaders in the community, state and nation; name some current leaders who function in these roles and how they are selected.


  • Apply a reasoned decision-making process to make a choice.
  • Define the productivity of a resource and describe ways to increase it.
  • Describe a market as any place or manner in which buyers and sellers interact to make exchanges; describe prices as payments of money for items exchanged in markets.


  • Create and use various kinds of maps, including overlaying thematic maps, of places in the United States, and also Canada or Mexico; incorporate the “TODALS” map basics, as well as points, lines and colored areas to display spatial information.
  • Use latitude and longitude on maps and globes to locate places in the United States, and also Canada or Mexico.
  • Choose the most appropriate data from maps, charts, and graphs in an atlas to answer specific questions about geographic issues in the United States, and also Canada or Mexico.
  • Use photographs or satellite-produced images to interpret spatial information about the United States, and also Canada or Mexico.
  • Locate and identify the physical and human characteristics of places in the United States, and also Canada or Mexico.
  • Name and locate states and territories, major cities and state capitals in the United States.
  • Name and locate countries neighboring the United States and their major cities.
  • Use data to analyze and explain the changing distribution of population in the United States and Canada over the last century.
  • Explain how geographic factors affect population distribution and the growth of cities in the United States and Canada.
  • Explain how humans adapt to and/or modify the physical environment and how they are in turn affected by these adaptations and modifications.
  • For example: Humans cut down a forest to clear land for farming, which leads to soil erosion. Consequently, humans have to use more fertilizer to supplement the nutrients in the soil.
  • Describe how the location of resources and the distribution of people and their various economic activities has created different regions in the United States and Canada.
  • Analyze the impact of geographic factors on the development of modern agricultural regions in Minnesota and the United States.


  • Use maps to compare and contrast a particular region in the United States, and also Canada or Mexico, at different points in time.
  • Identify and locate on a map or globe the origins of peoples in the local community and state; create a timeline of when different groups arrived; describe why and how they came.

Source:  Minnesota Department of Education, Social Studies Standards (2011 draft version)


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Lakeview Elementary, Albert Lea Area Schools, Minnesota. Views expressed are my own.

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