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Social Studies

*Suggestion: The times listed next to the activities are approximate. Each activity could take more or less time. This module is designed to be completed over a period of time rather than in a single sitting.


View the Introduction Social Studies -  PowerPoint Presentation for an overview of this module and key ideas related to teaching social studies to young children.

(5 min)

California Context/Standards

Access the California Department of Education’s document: The Alignment of California Preschool Learning Foundations with Key Early Education Resources.

  • Focus on pages 143-156. When reading, notice how the Preschool Learning Foundations -  align with the California History-Social Science Standards for K-12.
  • Use examples from the document when you reflect on the following: What are the fundamental skills and competences in social studies for early learners? Why are these skills and competences important for a TK classroom?
  • Identify several considerations you would take to ensure that teaching these skills and competences are developmentally appropriate for a TK environment. Give an example and non-example of a developmentally appropriate lesson in a TK classroom.

(20 minutes)

Read Social Studies in Action - , compiled by Susan Friedman. Identify example classroom practices from the article that address different social studies strands: self and society; becoming a school community member (civics); sense of time (history); sense of place (geography and ecology); and marketplace (economics).

  • How do the example classroom practices teach the concepts and skills in these strands?
  • How do the example classroom practices support the domains of learning: socio-emotional, cognitive, language, and motor development?

(25 minutes)

Read TK California’s Voices from the Field: Sharon’s Story - 

  • How does Sharon connect with families? After reading, what new ideas or realizations do you have about building family-based learning in and out of the classroom?
  • Why is connecting with families in culturally and linguistically responsive ways an important aspect of social studies and learning in TK?
  • How does family-based learning support students’ socio-emotional development in TK?

(25 minutes)

Understanding Social Studies Instruction For Young Children

Choose one of the following activities: Project-Based Learing or Connections Across Time and Space


Read one of the following articles about inquiry-based social studies instruction and respond to the “bulleted” prompts below.


View the Teaching Channel’s video on a Kindergarten social studies lesson: "Teaching Channel Kindergarten social studies"

  • Making active connections across time and space—an important foundation of social studies—entails what Levstik and Barton call, “doing history.”
  • Use the Time and Space Organizer -  to analyze the ways in which young children actively investigate history.

(45 minutes)

Applying Your Knowledge

After developing an understanding of the skills and competencies of early social studies education, do the following:

  • Go to the Teaching Tolerance website and select an early childhood lesson plan to analyze. (Teaching Tolerance: Classroom Resources - )
    • Sort by Grade Level:Pre-K to K
    • Resource: Lesson
    • Subject: Social Studies
    • Topic: [Your Choice]
  • Use the Analysis of Teaching Tolerance -  Lesson Plan to analyze your lesson plan.
  • Post your analysis and comment on others’ work or be prepared to discuss in class.

(45 minutes)

Approximate Total Time: 2 - 3 hours