Social Studies

Massachusetts History and Social Science Curriculum Framework 

Overview of Scope and Sequence

At the preschool and kindergarten level, learning in history and social science is built on children’s experiences in their families, school, community, state, and country. Children listen to stories about the people and events we celebrate in our national holidays and learn why we celebrate them. They also become familiar with our national symbols. The purpose of the preK-K curriculum is to begin the development of their civic identity. 

Grade 1 
In first grade, children listen to and read folk tales and true stories from America and from around 
the world. They learn about major historical events, figures, and symbols related to the United 
States of America and its national holidays and why they are important to Americans. The grade 1 
curriculum continues to strengthen children’s identity as American citizens. 

Grade 2

Second graders learn world and United States history, geography, economics, and government by studying more about who Americans are and where they came from.They explore their own family’s history and learn about distinctive achievements, customs, events, places, or landmarks from long ago and from around the world. The chief purpose of the grade 2 curriculum is to help students understand that American citizenship embraces all kinds of people, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, and national origin.  American students come from all countries and continents in the world.   American students come from all countries and continents in the world.

Grade 3

Drawing on information from local historic sites, historical societies, and museums, third graders learn about the history of Massachusetts from the time of the arrival of the Pilgrims. They also learn the history of their own cities and towns and about famous people and events in Massachusetts’ history. 

Grade 4

In grade 4, students study the geography and people of the United States today. Students learn geography by addressing standards that emphasize political and physical geography and embed 
five major concepts: location, place, human interaction with the environment, movement, and regions. In addition, they learn about the geography and people of contemporary Mexico and Canada. Teachers may choose to teach the standards on the geography and social characteristics of the nations in Central America and the Caribbean Islands. Teachers may also choose to have students study in the first half of the school year one early civilization. We recommend China because it is not taught in grade 7 and can be easily connected to the English language arts curriculum through its myths, legends, and folktales.

Grade 5

Students study the major pre-Columbian civilizations in the New World; the 15th and 16th century European explorations around the world, in the western hemisphere, and in North America in 
particular; the earliest settlements in North America; and the political, economic and social development of the English Colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries. They also study the early development of democratic institutions and ideas, including the events and ideas that led tothe independence of the original 13 colonies and the formation of a national government under the formation of the U.S. Constitution. The purpose of the grade 5 curriculum is to give students their first concentrated study of the formative years of U.S. history. 

Grade 6

Sixth graders systematically study the world outside of the United States and North America by addressing standards that emphasize political and physical geography and embed five major concepts:  location, place, human interaction with the environment, movement, and regions. Students systematically learn geography around the world continent by continent, similar to the way in which atlases are organized. They also learn about each continent in an order that reflects, first, the early development of the river valley civilizations and then the later development of maritime civilizations in the Mediterranean area and in Northern and Western Europe. In so doing, students are better prepared for the study of early civilizations around the Mediterranean area in grade 7.