There is ample research that proves students demonstrate increased enthusiasm about learning when they have opportunities to pursue topics that interest them, and we see this so often in Miquon children. While every grade level has its own theme study focus that are developmentally appropriate at each grade level, our Social Studies program also makes space for the passions of individual students. With Social Studies, the interests, heritage, and experiences of the children in a group – as well as the interests and expertise of the teachers – influence the topical content through which skills and concepts are developed.
Teachers also allow major world events to drive and inform content, as appropriate to the development of the children. As a result, different topics and activities may vary year in and year out, the learning goals remain the same: teachers very intentionally structure the unit to address grade-level appropriate skills and concepts in Social Studies in concert with the standards set forth by the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS).
Miquon Social Studies is inquiry-based and exploration is driven by Essential Questions. Discovery activities where children wonder “What if or how can we . . . ?” and inquiry projects that ask “What do you know already, and what more would you like to learn?” serve as guiding questions for exploration.
Miquon Social Studies program is often hands-on and project-based. Children participate in projects that run over several weeks and have many facets. Projects like simulating a wagon train that will take the journey of settlers along the Oregon Trail to creating an Ancient Egyptian city allow students to delve deeply into a topic. These extensive projects also provide a relevant and meaningful canvas for children to practice their mathematical thinking and literacy skills – skills that make it possible for these students to begin to understand people, cultures, civic ideals, time, continuity, and change. In this sense, Social Studies is both the culmination and the application of all the skills our students have learned.
Finally, our Social Studies program is interdisciplinary. Theme** work allows home classroom work in literature, writing, mathematics to integrate with other curricular areas like science, physical education, and the arts. In preparation for their study of Ancient Egypt, for instance, children first work with the science and mathematics that explain the concept of time, practicing calculations like how many minutes in a hour, hours in a day, days in a month, etc. Later they might build their own functional sand timers and sundials using found materials like paper plates, straws, plastic bottles, table salt, and glue. Further, they might imagine their classroom as a time machine, constructing an artistically adorned “gate” of buttons, sequins, and levers to “transport” them back to the time of the Egyptians.
As a result of this program that is rooted in inquiry, student interest, and hands-on projects with an emphasis on social justice, Miquon graduates are known to have strong process skills, conceptual understanding, and general knowledge in Social Studies.
Social Studies is also the primary vehicle through which our program teaches social justice. Theme work is approached with an anti-bias lens where children are encouraged to research and consider (and sometimes role play) the experience of “the other” in any given situation. As with the study of the Oregon Trail, for instance, the children begin to comprehend the experience of the settlers. At the same time, they learn about the Native Americans who were oppressed as a result of Westward Expansion, and later, the treatment of the Chinese and Irish immigrants who built the transcontinental railroad, despite the recent Civil War meant to put an end to racism. Many other topics* are introduced so children may visualize, role-play, and understand the lives of underrepresented minority groups throughout our human history.
Scope and Sequence
At Miquon, we follow the curriculum standards set forth by the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) in the disciplines of history, geography, civics/government, economics, and psychology. We use of many different published materials, teacher-created materials, games, and projects.
**Social Studies themes include:
- Identity and Community (Nursery and Kindergarten)
- People, Places, and Environments (First and Second Grade)
- Time, Continuity, and Change (Third and Fourth Grade)
- Culture, Worldview, Conflict (Fifth and Sith Grade)
*Examples of Social Studies topics include:
- Animal and Human Habitats
- Westward Expansion
- Ancient Civilizations
- Colonial America
- Comparative World Religions (Islam, Judaism, and Christianity)
- The Naturalist Movement
- The Electoral Process
- Identity & Family
- The Great Depression
- The Medieval World
- The Rise of Islam
- Civil Rights
- The Industrial Revolution
- The American Civil War
- Sacred Spaces