Elementary Social Studies

Social Studies Alive! is alive indeed in our interactive, multi media social studies program.
The elementary social studies program is grounded in three educational theories: that students learn in many ways; that learning occurs in tolerant, collaborative classroom environments; and that lessons need to incorporate what students already know and build to more complex understandings. Mastery of state standards is built with dynamic interactive lessons that always involve connecting social studies concepts, past and present, to students' lives. Beginning in 2010-2011, Elementary World Languages were integrated into the social studies curriculum.

Program Summary

Grade Level-Specific Social Studies Curriculum Information
First Grade
Second Grade
Third Grade
Fourth Grade
Fifth Grade

The Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations define what the state expects students to know and be able to do in the Social Studies at the end of each grade level.  Social Studies Alive! and History Alive! is the published program the Ann Arbor Public Schools has adopted to provide students with the Social Studies instruction and experiences they need to reach expected grade level targets.  Additional Supplementary units have been written and implemented at the Third Grade to support understanding and mastery of state standards for the study of Michigan.

Discipline Strands in Elementary Social Studies

  • Geography: The World in Spatial Terms, Places and Regions, Human Systems, Environment and Society
  • Civics/Government:  Purposes of Government, Values and Principles of American Democracy, Structure and Function of Government, Role of the Citizen in American Democracy
  • Economics:  Market Economy, National Economy, International Economy
  • History:  Living and Working Together, Michigan History, United States History
  • Public Discourse, Decision Making, and Citizen Involvement

Ann Arbor Public School's Elementary Social Studies curriculum is characterized by the following features:

Theory- and Researched-Based Active Instruction

Lessons and activities are based on five well-established theories: Understanding by Design, Nonlinguistic Representation, Multiple Intelligences, Cooperative Interaction, and Spiral Curriculum.

Standards-Based Content

Dynamic lessons build mastery of the Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations (GLCE's). Units integrate hands-on active learning in order to achieve a consistent pattern of high quality social studies instruction while aligning to state standards.

Preview Assignment

A short, engaging assignment at the start of each lesson previews key concepts and activates students' prior knowledge and personal experience.

Multiple Intelligences Teaching Strategies

Multiple Intelligences Teaching Strategies incorporate six types of activities: Visual Discovery, Social Studies Skill Builder, Experiential Exercise, Writing for Understanding, Response Groups, and Problem Solving Groupwork.

Considerate Text

Carefully structured reading materials enable students at all levels to comprehend. Expository text reading instruction involves four stages: previewing the content, reading, taking notes, and processing the content or reviewing and applying what has been learned.

Graphically Organized Reading Notes

Comprehensive graphic organizers are used to record key ideas, in order to further help students obtain meaning from what they read. Graphic organizers help students to see the underlying logic and interconnections among concepts by improving their comprehension and retention in the subject area.

Processing Assignment

An end-of-lesson processing assignment, involving multiple intelligences and higher-order thinking skills, challenges students to apply what they've learned. These assignments help students synthesize and apply the information they have learned in a variety of creative ways.

Assessments to Inform Instruction

End of unit tests encourage students to use their various intelligences to demonstrate their understanding of key concepts while preparing them for standardized tests.