Taught in homeroom; topics may be integrated with other disciplines and field trips.
In lower school social studies, students explore a range of communities and cultures near and far, past and present. Starting with their community and broadening to the greater world, they develop cultural competence and gain an understanding of others’ perspectives. As they learn about the connections between communities and cultures, they begin to appreciate interdependence based upon geography and resources. They have opportunities to reflect on their lives and the lives of others in their community and the broader world. Discussions and experiences are central to the curriculum. Teachers tap into the wealth of resources in the DC metropolitan area and the rich cultural diversity of our families.
Kindergartners study habitats, beginning with their own homes and classrooms. They learn about Maret by following the adventures of the Gingerbread Man as he travels our campus. They also pick an on-campus tree and watch how it changes with the seasons. Children study tropical rain forests and the ocean. Trips to the Audubon Society and Baltimore Aquarium enrich their understanding of these habitats.
First graders explore the concepts of identity, community, and environment. Beginning with the personal and broadening to the individual’s role in society, the identity curriculum spans seven units: All About Me, Colors of Us, Names, Everyone’s a Helper, Community, Empathy, and Social Justice/Activism. Through parent presentations that focus on careers, personal heroes, and personal identity, students examine the diversity and interconnectedness of the roles of individuals in the community. This progression of lessons enables students to move from self-care and awareness to gaining empathy for others to developing an appreciation for our greater community.
Students gain a basic understanding of how to use and interpret maps. Teachers use Hispanic Heritage Month, Black History Month, and Women’s History Month as springboards for discussing America’s rich cultural diversity and various ongoing struggles for civil rights. Picture books, nonfiction texts, photographs, and videos bring important chapters of American history to life. Regular reading of Scholastic News prompts discussion of current events. Building on their service learning experiences with Martha’s Table, students also learn how food insecurity and food inequity impact members of the Washington, DC, community.
Through the study of world cultures, students gain an appreciation of different communities and their customs. They learn regional geography and how to read and interpret maps. Children study Central and South America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. They use research skills to investigate the lives of notable historical figures and make art collages to accompany their oral presentations. Third graders also read Scholastic News each week to discuss current events and explore the extensive resources in Washington, DC.
Students begin their study of ancient civilizations through archaeological exploration. During their study of ancient Egypt and Greece, students engage in research projects that utilize their library, writing, technological, and presentation skills. They pose research questions, pursue independent interests, and communicate their learning in creative ways. Students read the children’s version of the Iliad and the Odyssey in the Greek mythology unit. The unit culminates in a Greek play in which every student participates as an actor, singer, and dancer.