Why study history? There’s a saying that times change, but people don’t. Learning about historical triumphs and tragedies shows us how events are interconnected and gives us insight into what’s happening in the world. Fifth graders will study major themes in American History such as the country’s founding, constitutional rights, immigration, expansion, commerce, wars, and global leadership—topics that still dominate today’s headlines.
History will come alive as students dramatize a Civil War field hospital, an early 20th century clothing factory, and the trenches of World War I. Student-led discussions in the “Harkness style” will encourage your child to form opinions, support them with evidence, and find his voice. He will experience immigration processing at Ellis Island, blazing the Oregon Trail, and panning for gold. In every unit, students will consider events from multiple perspectives, looking not only at the dominant narrative but also at lesser-known perspectives and stories. In the process, your child will learn to think critically about past events: Who is telling the story? What is their bias, purpose, and motive? Whose voice is missing? Applying this skill, your child will examine primary sources and conclude for herself whether the Mexican American War was justified. Then fifth-grade Social Studies gets personal with the Family History Project, when students research their family tree, interview relatives, and uncover documents illuminating their family’s story (and sometimes their secrets). Your child may come to appreciate that not only is she connected to the past; she is part of American history herself.